Photo by: Chris Robert on Unsplash
Doug Ford continues a trend of fence riding and dodginess to save his political credibility in refusing a summons to testify at the Emergencies Act inquiry in Ottawa.
The Public Order Emergency Commision is opening an inquiry into the use of the Emergencies Act last winter to combat the Convoy Protest. Mayors from across Ontario, including the mayor of Ottawa, have accepted testifying at the inquiry.
Recently re-elected Ontario Premier, Doug Ford, on the other hand, is refusing to testify on grounds that the inquiry is a federal matter not a provincial one, hence not his concern. Commentators are correctly pointing out that this is a strategic move to not have to testify at the hearings and sway voters who may have been supportive of the Convoy.
This kind of dodginess might ring familiar to those who are used to Ford’s unwillingness to stir the pot so as not to be divisive. For example, back in November of 2021 Ford refused to mandate a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for hospital workers, leaving “human resourcing decisions up to individual hospitals.” His style is a slow, subtle undercutting of essential caretaker funds in the province, pushing privatization wherever he can and acting coy and passive in the name of individuals’ freedoms.
This refusal to testify is more proof of the inability of Ontario’s Premier to be a leader.
At the Legislative Assembly of Ontario opposition members pushed the Premier to “come clean” and speak with the Commission. Ford’s one and only response before a fellow MP took the rest of the opposition’s heat was the following:
“Mr. Speaker, this is a federal inquiry into the federal government’s use of the federal Emergencies Act… This was a policing matter, not a political matter. And the opposition knows, Mr. Speaker, politicians don’t direct the police.”
This appeal to institutional authority’s discretion is of course extremely similar to Ford’s hands off, leave it up to hospitals, approach to vaccine mandates for hospital workers. Ford’s political imaginary is one where the government is not beholden to how institutions function and deal with issues, but tries to maximize their autonomy and thus can place blame on individual institutions or actors instead of government direction.
It’s time to stop electing political leaders who, in the interest of corporate lobbyists, preach apolitical solutions to keep the wheels turning on Bay Street instead of stepping up and leading for the good of the electorate.