Another Ford Country? Could Doug Ford Become Ontario's Premier?
New Ontario PC Leader Doug Ford
Unsettling Times Ahead
Doug Ford makes me very nervous, but then again, so does Kathleen Wynne.
For those who don't know who either of these individuals are, Doug Ford is one of the older brothers of Rob Ford, the bombastic and often-troubled mayor of Toronto, Ontario, Canada who is now the leader of Ontario's Progressive Conservative party. Rob Ford certainly put Toronto on the map when he was in office, especially when footage of inappropriate comments he made and evidence of drug use surfaced. Doug was probably Rob's most ardent defender, to his credit, and certainly, the bond between the two of them in spite of the controversies that rocked Rob Ford's mayoralty was unshakeable. Doug Ford certainly has shown a desire for leadership, having launched a mayoral campaign in the wake of his brother's passing, and now, he's leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative party.
We are now a little over two months away from Ontario's next provincial election, and the leaders of both the major parties are making me nervous.
No one can dispute the Ford family's love of Toronto, and the good work that Rob and his brother Doug did for Toronto continues to be felt today, but there is that dubious legacy that the Fords have left. Allegations of drug dealing continue to follow Doug Ford in particular like a bad smell, and while allegations are nowhere near the same as proof, these should be enough to at least give voters pause to consider the options on the table.
Kathleen Wynne is now quite probably one of the least liked leaders in Ontario's history, and that's saying something. Since I moved back to Ontario in 2007, I've heard all about how people felt about both Mike Harris and Bob Rae - two former Ontario premiers - and Kathleen Wynne is now seemingly being held up in the same light. There are many things that her government has done that the Ontario public has found offensive since her tenure began just over four years ago, including the overhaul of the contentious sex-ed curriculum that has now become contentious again because Wynne's rival Ford is now saying he'll scrap and revamp it with consultation from parents and teachers (which was done when Wynne first revamped the curriculum).
It's been suggested by TVO's Steve Paikin that some in government have become uncomfortable with the seeming role of Wynne's partner, Jane Rounthwaite, in Wynne's views on policy. It's not government that votes individuals into power, though; it's the people themselves, and while Wynne's Liberal party initiatives have gotten public approval, it would seem that she herself has not, for a range of reasons that aren't quite clear. Environment minister Glen Murray has said that if Wynne was a male, she would not be facing the criticism she does.
Whether it's a result of sexism or people simply disagreeing with her politics, the simple fact is there are those who deeply dislike Kathleen Wynne, who according to Macleans now has the lowest approval rating of any Ontario premier, which is saying something. It could simply be that after 14 years of the Liberals being in charge, Ontario residents are ready for a change.
However, should that change come in the form of a man who some pundits are referring to as "Trump Lite?" A man who The Globe And Mail has suggested was a drug dealer back in the 1980s, with considerable investigation behind the story?
While we can't necessarily look at someone's past - particularly when that person was in his mid-teens to early 20s - as a predictor of how they will behave some two decades or more later, the drug dealer revelation should be enough to give us some pause. Kathleen Wynne might be caught between a rock and a hard place simply because the Ontario public may just have had enough of the Liberals. For many, the choice between what many might perceive as two poor choices might become an option to vote another way altogether.
That could be the scariest prospect of all, and one that could have Ontario's other political parties - the NDP, the Green Party or something different altogether - scrambling to see what headway they could potentially make with voters between now and June 7.