, 05.24.2022 10:17 AM

My latest: character matters

When does a politician’s character get revealed?

Because, as Ken Dryden once memorably said about hockey, character doesn’t get built by the political life. It gets revealed.

Our history is full of those unplanned, unscheduled moments when a leader’s character is revealed. During the October Crisis, when Canadians were terrorized by separatist murderers, Pierre Trudeau famously said: “Just watch me.” And Canadians watched, and rallied to him.

When Conservatives and Paul Martin acolytes were hissing that Jean Chretien was too old, and yesterday’s man, my former boss literally jumped on a single water ski – and figuratively flipped his enemies the bird. Canadians laughed, and rallied to him.

And when he was elected a minority Prime Minister, the very first thing Stephen Harper did was apologize for abuses at residential schools, and announce compensation. Canadians nodded, and would go on to support Harper for nearly a decade.

By the by: Harper did that notwithstanding the braying and screeching of Pipsqueak Conservatives like Pierre Poilievre, who had insinuated that Indigenous people were lazy and dishonest. That was a moment when character was revealed, but perhaps not in a way that Poilievre would like.

All those things (and more) show character, and reveal a leader’s better nature. That’s what voters are looking for. That’s what citizens are desperate for. Character.

Doug Ford’s character was revealed early on in the pandemic, twice. Neither were momentous occasions that will be written about by historians for decades to come. But they told a story.

In April 2020, when COVID-19 was rampaging and killing innocents, Ford held a press conference. He looked profoundly sad and sombre. He said: “You deserve to know what I know when you’re making decisions for yourself, your family and your community.” And Ford gave Ontarians the grim facts about COVID infections and deaths – something that he would go on to do on a near-daily basis for the next two years.

And in the same week, someone snapped a cell phone shot of Ford helping to load a donation of surgical masks at a dentist‘s office in Markham. No political aides or official photographers captured it. It was simply Ford, making an impromptu decision to help out himself. Personally.

More recently, Ford’s character was again seen in a positive light: when extremists and anarchists occupied Ottawa, and barricaded the borders, it was Ford – not Justin Trudeau – who first declared a state of emergency, who first beefed up police presence, and who first cracked down on the lawlessness. Lawlessness, by the by, that the aforementioned Poilievre had supported. And still does.

For Ontarians who remembered the old Doug Ford – the one who was often forced to angrily defend his brother’s many lapses – the new Doug Ford was a surprise. The new Doug Ford showed character, and he attracted the support of people who thought they would never give it – including people like my friend, top lawyer Marie Henein.

In a much-discussed column in the Globe and Mail, Henein – no knuckle dragging Conservative – said: “Doug Ford is the leader Ontario needs.”

Many agreed with her, and still do. During the pandemic, Ford was not perfect, as he himself admitted many times. But as the likes of Henein also noted, he did a far better job than many expected.

In times of crisis, in times of conflict, we learn things about each other. In those times, we particularly learn things about the leaders we elect.

Doug Ford revealed himself to be a good and decent man.

And one who most of us feel deserves reelection.

[Kinsella advises a trade union active in the Ontario election campaign.]


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    Ronald O'Dowd says:


    If I was an Ontarian, my election reflex would be short and sweet: change, why?

    Translation: a Ford majority government. IMHO.

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    Robert White says:

    I’m posting from the Ottawa Public Library because Premier Ford has yet to fix my Internet connectivity.

    I’ll hand it to the Premier for fixing my electricity, but where is my Internet ISP?

    Six days without Internet in a G7 capital city just because of a one hour wind storm. Ottawa is ripped apart at the seams via the electrical grid. Merivale Road has been shut down for an entire week now with no electrical fix for the downed wires or poles yet. Slow response due to outliers on the grid.

    No way in heck i’m ever buying an electric car.


    • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
      Ron Benn says:

      I am struggling with what you think Premier Ford is supposed to do Robert.

      Should he don a hard hat, steel toed boots, take/renew his “working at heights course”, grab a ladder and start stringing wire in your neighbourhood? Is he or his party responsible for the overhead wires installed by Bell and Rogers on Hydro Ottawa’s ancient network of utility poles?

      Telephone and internet cables strung on poles across the backyards of 40+ year old neighbourhoods are NOT the responsibility of the provincial government. Ask Hydro Ottawa when they are going to do something about aging infrastructure. Ask Ottawa city council if they are prepared to forego their annual $20 million dividend from their wholly owned subsidiary, an amount which would then be available to reinvest in storm proofing their assets.

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        Robert White says:

        Premier Ford should call his corporate peers at Rogers.


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      Pipes says:

      Hydro needs a long long term plan to begin putting wires below ground.

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    Edward says:

    Doug Ford may be a “helluva guy” and has certainly been a more attractive premier especially with regard to the pandemic than some of his Conservative fellow provincial leaders. He may in fact be somewhat of a Progressive Conservative in the vein of Joe Clark or Bill Davis. He is however still a Conservative leading a party of Conservatives many of whom are not the least bit progressive. They follow a conservative political ideology that will never help people as much as Liberals or the NDP would. When you are a mouse the white cat is basically the same as the black one.

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      Phil in London says:

      To put my research on a par with your own, I just consulted the good book as we used to call it. Nothing in the 10 commandments that states thou shalt not vote conservative. Conservative does not have to mean fascist in fact – Conservatives and Liberals were both centrist parties in many democracies in the old days. When they are not rewarding elite friends liberals have drifted so far left the boat is listing.

      There is a HUGE swath of middle voters and that is what segment the PCs are so appealing to.

      There are two radical right wing choices for the hard right they are not a voting segment this province wishes to see.
      So many left leaning voters think they are in the middle, yet they cannot see the communists and elitists in their midst.

      If anything but a PC government is so important why are Del lame-Ducka and Comrade Horwath not uniting BEFORE the writ was dropped?

      • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
        Robert White says:

        Mixing Communists & Neoliberals is physically impossible. Comrade Horwath & Comrade Singh would never benefit from a merger with Neoliberal ideologues given the Finance agenda that would be applied if they did.

        The unions have never supported the PCs throughout history, but Ford is even enjoying a small percentage of unionized labour support this electoral round.

        The NDP need to step up their game vis-a-vis union supports.

        P.S. Rogers fixed my Internet connectivity this morning. Seven and a half days of no Internet makes this the longest outage ever. Normalcy has returned to Ottawa’s west end neighbourhoods, finally.

        Oh happy day!


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