The Ford Factor (1)

John Ibbitson, writing in the Globe and Mail, says that “In the next election campaign, whenever it comes, Justin Trudeau won’t have Doug Ford to kick around any more … [as he did] … In last year’s federal election … [when] … the Liberal Leader focused as heavily on the Ontario Premier, who was then unpopular because of spending cuts, as he did on then-Conservative leader Andrew Scheer … [when, for example] … At one news conference, in the middle of the campaign, Mr. Trudeau mentioned Mr. Ford 16 times.

Mr. Ford did his best to help his Conservative cousins by keeping a low profile,” Mr Ibbitson explains, “But it didn’t stop the Liberals from making him the focus of their campaign in Ontario. And it worked … [because] … An Angus Reid poll taken during the campaign said half of Ontario voters thought their federal vote would be influenced by the performance of the Ford government, and 85 per cent of those voters thought it would make them less likely to vote Conservative.

A year later,” John Ibbitson opines, “things couldn’t be more different. Mr. Ford is highly popular. An Angus Reid poll four weeks ago had him the second-most popular leader in the country, behind B.C. Premier John Horgan. (The online poll employed a representative sample of 4,703 Canadian adults, reporting a comparative margin of error of 1.4 percentage points.) … [and while] … The Ontario government has made its share of mistakes over the past seven months – most tragically in failing to protect residents of long-term care facilitiesvoters seem willing to forgive premiers across the country, who are trying hard to do the best job they can during a pandemic .. [and] … Mr. Ford’s relations with the federal Liberals are now mostly friendly, and he has said he will not participate in the next federal election campaign on behalf of any party or leader.

Mr Ibbitson says that “may disappoint Erin O’Toole … [but] … the real loser is Mr. Trudeau. No longer will he be able to warn Ontario voters that to vote for Mr. O’Toole would be to double down on Mr. Ford. The Ford factor is no longer available to the Liberals.

Of course, as John Ibbitson notes, things may change between now and, say, next spring (he thinks that a fall election is, now, unlikely, given that Jagmeet Singh has ceded the entire left (progressive) wing of the Canadian political spectrum to the Liberals. “The province is struggling to contain a second wave of infections even as it reopens its schools,” John Ibbitson notes, and, as we have seen in the past days, Premier Ford is struggling to find the right mix of reopening for business while, simultaneously, restricting social gatherings. Some of those measures are going to be unpopular amongst one important segment of the voting population: young, hip, urban voters ~ but very few of them ever vote Conservative; those who bother to vote at all will vote for Justin Trudeau’s Liberals, anyway. On the other hand, those all important suburban voters, often working parents of young children, often new Canadians

… don’t care, not even the tiniest bit, if strip clubs are closed down … they don’t go to bars after 10:00 PM, in fact, they rarely go out before 10:00 PM and when they do go out it is to a family friendly neighbourhood restaurant. Stephen Harper understood, in the first decade of the 2000s that new Canadians often share moderate Conservative values. They are NOT social conservatives ~ Brad Trost, Andrew Scheer and Derek Sloan had little if any appeal in the suburbs around Toronto and Vancouver …

… but those voters ~ and they do vote in large numbers ~ have many strong Conservative values: they believe in law and order; they oppose higher taxes; they believe in well regulated, fair, colour blind immigration; and they believe in equality of opportunity ~ not favouritism for the “flavour of the month minority” ~ nor even when it’s them. They drive to work, they drive to the mall … but they believe that we must address climate change ~ because, in some respects, their children come home from school, almost every day with new, dire warning about the impact of global climate change …

… they would like to have an electric care (see more, here, tomorrow, about that) when the price is right and the recharging infrastructure is available but, for now, they want to hear some affordable common sense proposals to address climate change ~ something that, they hope, doesn’t involve another new tax.

For now, and likely, given his record to date, Doug Ford is NOT a campaign aid for Justin Trudeau. I expect and hope that some of his more popular and effective ministers …

… will campaign, actively, for Erin O’Toole while Doug Ford stays “above the fray,” so to say, reminding Ontarians that a Conservative government can be efficient and effective and have a well developed social conscience too.

Published by Ted Campbell

Old, retired Canadian soldier, Conservative ~ socially moderate, but a fiscal hawk. A husband, father and grandfather. Published material is posted under the "Fair Dealing" provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act for the purposes of research, private study and education.

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