As Ontarians grapple with yet another bout of pandemic-related restrictions, — many are left wondering as to the future stewardship of Canada’s most populous province.
Doug Ford took the reigns as Premier in June of 2018 for what many may seem like a lifetime ago. His unexpected and meteoric rise to power was an enthralling drama worthy of its own deliberations.
Ford’s leadership had a rocky start with no shortage of sordid issues; the Dean French patronage scandal, and his friend Ron Taverner’s near ascension to the post of Ontario’s top cop are first to mind.
Indeed, the ethics of Mr. Ford’s premiership were in question from it’s inception.
Much like its southerly neighbours at the time, Ontario’s political landscape was one of deep division and polarity; the hangover from the previous government’s 15 year reign had left many voters incensed and disaffected.
The polls for the newly minted Premier reflected this reality, with just 31% of Ontarians approving of his leadership in its opening days.
Mr. Ford needed a rallying cry; and one was looming on the far side of the globe.
As Covid-19 spread with impunity and put a collective end to all sense of normalcy, a call to arms went out to all Ontarians from the office of the Premier.
At the height of his pandemic popularity, Ford’s approval rating had soared to 62% in June of 2020. Ontarians had mostly agreed that the province was weathering the worldwide storm with competence and stability.
But as the Premier would soon find out, effective leadership requires much more than platitudes and tired euphemisms.
Recent polling has found Ford’s approval drop back to near pre-pandemic levels. Ontario is suffering from major pandemic fatigue.
Ontario parents are plagued by sporadic school closures. Businesses and workers are left in a constant state of uncertainty and confusion, often without badly needed financial support to help them through.
All of this is no doubt contributing to what is shaping up to be a watershed moment in Ontario’s provincial politics for years to come.
Will Doug Ford and his PC’s be forgiven by voters for his governments shortcomings in recent months?
Or will this recent round of restrictions be the death knell for Ontario’s return to PC leadership?
One thing is for certain in these uncertain times… change is always just around the corner.
But who will lead Ontario through the bend?