, 04.20.2022 12:45 PM

My latest: Ford will win

Full disclosure: Doug Ford is going to win.

And, before we get this little column going, further full disclosure: my firm sometimes lobbies his government, just like we did all the ones before his.

Also: we’re on the Ontario government’s standing offer list for communications. But we haven’t gotten a stitch of work from him. Zero, zippo, zilch.

That’s okay, because here’s a bit more disclosure: I like the guy. My mom, an Irish Catholic Montreal Liberal, loves him. Asked her why.

“He’s got a big heart,” said my mom. “He cares about people.”

And he does, he does. If you’d told me that a few years back, when Ford and I would duel to the death on radio and TV political panels, I would’ve said you were crazy. Back then, I didn’t really know him, and I figured he was one of those Trump-style ideological right-wing types.

I was wrong, wrong, wrong. He ain’t. And I’m not the only one who knows it, now. Polls say he is cruising towards a second big majority government on June 2.

Here’s five reasons why.

1. Ford Nation. I don’t like the name, because it sounds a bit boasty to me. But that’s quibbling. Despite the criticisms of the pink-skinned, Blundstone-wearing deepest Annex types, I’d wager that Ford’s base is more racially diverse than that of any other conservative politician in North America. I first saw it almost a decade ago, during a Toronto mayoral race. Downtown progressives sneered that he was a racist – but Ford had the support of 70% of people of colour. Ford Nation is like the United Nations: everyone is represented there.

2. The pandemic. He’s made a misstep or two during the pandemic — the quickly-rescinded playground and police lockdown comes to mind — but, for the most part, Ford has done a pretty good job throughout the past two tough years. His critics didn’t expect that. They assumed he hated government, and he’d leave people to the ravages of the virus. He didn’t. He pushed vaccinations and sensible public health measures, and he pushed hope. You could see, too, that the COVID-related death toll weighed heavily on him on TV every morning — his voice raw, his face ashen. He didn’t care what his haters said, but he sure seemed to care about keeping them alive.

3. His government. The pandemic was the biggest economic, cultural and personal event of our collective lifetimes. Everyone had an opinion on it, because everyone was hurt by it. More than once, the hardcore Leftie types were mad at Ford for not shutting everything down. Simultaneously, the hardcore Rightie types were mad at him for shutting anything down. I spoke to a former Liberal prime minister about it. “When the hard Left and the hard Right are both mad at you, it’s a good day,” he said. And it’s true: Ontario voters are smack-dab in the middle of the road. That’s where Ford mostly is, too.

4. His opponents. Ontario New Democrats grumble that their leader, Andrea Horwath, has lost too many elections and needs to go. But they don’t do anything about it. Ontario Liberals give interviews to the Toronto Star — anonymously — and agree their guy, Steven Del Duca, is “not a leader.” During the pandemic, when the consequences were literally life-and-death, Horwath and Del Duca were up and down like a toilet seat — demanding masking, then holding mask-free superspreader rallies (as Del Duca did). Or falsely claiming public sector workers had “a Charter right” to refuse vaccinations (as Horwath did). Right now, the Ontario election is a battle for second place, between the Dippers and the Grits. And they act like Ford has already won. But he doesn’t — it’s not his personality to take anything for granted.

5. His personality. So, this column ends where it started: on Doug Ford’s personality. Way back when, I used to crap all over Doug Ford in the media. I went after him every chance I got. And then one day, when I got in a whole lot of trouble for a stupid tweet, guess who was the first person to call? Yep: Doug Ford. “Warren, you’ve kicked me and my brother around a lot, but we respect you,” he said. “Hang in there.”

I’ve heard dozens of similar tales from dozens of other folks, of all political persuasions. Doug Ford, they agree, is one of the best retail politicians Canada has ever produced. (My former boss Jean Chretien, naturally, is the best. And Chretien and Ford know and like each other, tellingly.)

Are other factors at play? Sure. Justin Trudeau’s re-election helped Doug Ford, because Ontario voters prefer to have different parties representing them in Ottawa and Queen’s Park. And Pierre Poilievre’s crusade to turn the Conservative Party into a wing of the far-Right People’s Party doesn’t hurt, either: it makes Ford look like a kind-hearted centrist.

Except he already was. He is.

And, full disclosure: that’s why he’s going to win again.

— Kinsella ran Dalton McGuinty’s three war rooms


  1. Warren,

    Not for me to quibble with the patently obvious. Bang on.

  2. Call Me Senorita says:

    Didn’t vote for him in the last election and won’t be voting for him in the next one. Would never vote for anyone you support.

  3. Sean says:

    This campaign will be about a Ford Majority or Ford Minority.

    I don’t think there is a popular sentiment out there that he handled the pandemic well. At all. From any camp. However, as Warren points out there isn’t an obvious alternative on that issue. Horwath and Del Duca have been very inconsistent / unreliable in their positions.

    The most important factor that is totally missing in this piece is the role of the Ontario Party and similar spinoff groups. They will play a role similar to Reform in the 1990s. Syphoning the hard loyalists away from the mother ship. In 2018, those folks had nowhere to park their vote but with Ford. Not so this time around. They’ll never see him as a real Conservative ever again. And they are motivated. Way more than the traditional P.Cs. As the saying goes – out of the tent, pissing inwards.

    Right now I see a minority Tory win. It will be a 20 minute conversation between Del Duca and Horwath to sort out the Cabinet posts…. and we will be into 2-3 years of a Liberal – NDP coalition.

  4. the salamander says:

    .. Welcome to your opinion .. here’s one from a Beaches parent who’s non partisan, has no Blundstones, never bought into ‘shutting everything down’, is highly informed re the morbidity, post infection Covid consequences, mortality related to ‘a misstep or two’

    Can you explain Doug Ford’s initiative to jam through legislation protecting LTC ownership from Legal Consequences ? Why it took the Canadian Military to confirm what was evident to anyone ? I could be more graphic.. but that’s ‘old news’ .. (as if the passage of time post funeral lessens losing Mom, Dad, Sister or Brother

    You can take ‘The Premonition- A Pandemic Story’ by Michael Lewis.. and ‘map’ Doug Ford & Jason Kenney into it perfectly, in terms of complete & abject failure in how they & their Ministers & Political Parties blundered about when the shit hit the fan.. & worse, (there’s always worse) they still are. They appear to have little belief in the consequences of DYING.. or SUFFERING.. or POST INFECTION CONSEQUENCES.

    The words of Dr Larry Brilliant hold true re Pandemic
    Early Detection – Early Response

    Keep in mind too.. the shocking reality of Social Distancing.. Schools & home environments are essentially the worst in terms of social distancing… and keep in mind that in North America, for every person using Public Transit there are two school kids on School Buses.. great 2 way conduit for a virus that is not just a respiratory threat, but also a cognitive & cardiac threat. Counting ICU numbers is a failure as is ‘beds’ with no Healthcare Professionals to utilize them

    So Gee Doug.. props re your ‘folksy’ .. achey breaky 24/7 heartache .. and your ‘one man army against snowstorms’ while armed with a snowmobile shovel and a tow rope. When your idol is Donald Trump.. or you pretend your CMOH is working 24/7 .. while on a beach in the Carribbean.. it somehow leaves a bad taste in the grave

    Reality is.. he has no real competition, no valid alternative that I can see.. He’ll dominate in a complete void of useful, courageous, capable competitors. He’ll win a ‘Beauty Contest in an Attention Industry fashion show

    The best he ever was ? A 3rd rate city councilman ..
    As far as Governance goes.. Ontario has never been in more jeopardy due to a complete absence of LEADERSHIP and CAPABILITY. I’m certainly not blaming him for that.. 2/3rds of the deadwood & dullards are on his ‘competition’.. He’s on the hook for the entirety only because he’s simply inadequate for his 1/3rd.. which tragically is ‘a majority’ in our archaic laughable, nay DANGEROUS clapped out faux ‘democracy’

  5. Peter Seville says:

    Doug Ford is the greatest premier that Ontario, indeed, the world, has ever seen! And you don’t have to take my word for it. He’ll tell you that himself! Gawd bless the people of Ontario…

  6. Robert White says:

    Premier Ford is a very mature veteran Canadian politician who knows how to fight without allowing anger to subvert his goals. His extremely BIG hearted
    persona is real and not just an act to impress his peers.

    Ford is actually a much better fighter than I am because he knows how to avoid getting angry & mad vis-a-vis politics. I, on the other hand, am far too emotional about politics so I do try to take a page from Ford knowing that he has mastered the art of politics by maintaining his mood so that anger is not part of his discourse.

    In my case, I’m always refelxively moody when it comes to most political discourses. Premier Ford has mastered being a cool politician that is level-headed in approach. As a political neophyte I’m pretty much always all over the map compared to someone like Ford who maintains his cool facade never letting it slip into being angry or mad at opposition.


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