For the past thirteen months we, as a nation, have been doing our best to fight back against COVID-19. Sometimes those efforts have worked, other times not so much, but what’s been clear is that most people have been doing their part in this hard fight. In these hard moments, people rightly look to their governments for leadership and guidance. That’s what we elect governments to do, and it really shouldn’t come as a shock to those who aspire to lead us.
Yet we can point to examples from all governments, both federal and provincial, of failures and marks missed. But while some failures have been done in good will and effort, others have been more of a result of unwillingness to act. In Ontario, we can point to those, usually involving a collection of mixed messages and an unwillingness to accept responsibility from the part of the Ford Government. Heck just as Ontario started facing record high COVID cases and ICU admission, Doug Ford went before the cameras late last week and said this:
“Ontario is doing pretty well right now”… That’s what Ford had to say to Ontarians on the same day that Ontario saw 4,227 new COVID infections, the 2nd highest daily number since the pandemic started at the time (today’s number is over 4,400) , and with 552 patients in ICUs, another record that has since been broken. That’s a kind of “whistling past the graveyard” that’s on a level of its own. It’s disturbing to see this Premier deciding to ignore the reality on the ground and live his life through rose-coloured glasses. So it shouldn’t have come as a shock that the Opposition at Queen’s Park would have some questions about the Premier’s comments. No, what was shocking was the answer that came from Doug Ford’s Government House Leader, none other than Paul Calandra. If you’ve forgotten about Calandra’s history when it comes to defending his government, here’s a quick reminder of his “work” from the past:
Yep, that was bad and let’s be honest, we were all Paul Dewar in that moment. That is the guy that the Ford Conservatives put up to reply to the Premier’s words and as you can imagine, it didn’t go that well:
Wait, Ontario only started to “fight back” against COVID-19 last Wednesday? Seriously? I had to go back and listen to that quote a few times because it was that awful yet so telling about this government. If the Ford Government hasn’t been “fighting” against COVID-19 for the past 13 months, then what in the sweet Hell were they doing? Not only is that answer somehow worse than what Ford said last week, it just spits on the efforts of front-line healthcare workers, who have been fighting for the past year trying to save lives. They’ve done that in spite of the Ford governments half-measures, mixed messages and unwillingness to face the truth. And for all that sacrifice, they get this? Calandra’s awful response might also add some context to this quote that came from Ford’s Solicitor General Sylvia Jones on Thursday morning, when she was talking on CBC radio. She was asked why the Ford government waited until after Easter to finally bring in a stay-at-home order. Her answer was bad then, but looks even worse now:
“We wanted to make sure that the modelling was actually showing up in our hospitals.” Yep, they wanted to “make sure” that people actually turned up sick in hospitals and ICUs before they acted, as if they needed some kind of verification after a year of this pandemic. That lead to a very strong rebuttal from Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical officer of health, as she made a point that should have been clear to any government minister long before now: You don’t wait for ICU numbers to go up because that is the last indicator before death. Basically, if you wait for that point to step in and do anything, you are way beyond too late.
So let’s put this all together. In the span of five days, we’ve had three different members of the Ford Cabinet, including the Premier himself, tell Ontarians that they “wanted to make sure” that people were actually turning up in ICUs before acting to prevent them from ending up there, that they only started “fighting back” against COVID on Wednesday (basically suggesting they weren’t trying for the past year?) and, oh, yeah, don’t worry because compared to everyone else, “Ontario is doing pretty well right now”. Sweet tapdancing Christ on a Triscuit, that’s terrible.
Yet that’s exactly where we find ourselves. At the very moment when we are supposed to be able to trust our elected government to do what’s right and fight to save lives, they’ve told the public that either they weren’t trying, were waiting for the worst to come and that we should all be grateful for their response. How in the Hell are we supposed to have confidence in that?
I’m honestly speechless when thinking about how to respond to this or thinking of what to do with it. The only reasonable response would be to replace this government, but we’re another year out from the next election. Many of us have tried our best to be patient and hopeful that our governments would pull it together, yet the Ford Conservatives in Ontario are now basically trolling all of us in those efforts. How else to explain this level of crap? Ontarians have given the Ford Conservatives a lot of leeway when it comes to this pandemic, in the hopes that they would rise to the moment. After some hopeful early days on that front, that clearly isn’t happening anymore. Lives are at stake and it’s time for this government to get its sh*t together because one thing is crystal clear; those answers are nowhere near being adequate. Ford and Co. needs to shape up or ship out because there is too much at stake to let this status quo continue.