Ford’s fate as Premier is an Open Question

By: Laura Steiner
Ontario Premier Doug Ford is having a rough time on the leadership front.  It started with the announcement of strengthened stay-at-home orders. It ended with a Thursday morning apology and press conference while  isolation at his mother’s house after being exposed to COVID-19.
What happened with the police forces has been  underplayed.  As everyone by now knows one of the aborted changes was the authority for police forces to randomly stop residents outside their home, and ask them why they’re out.  Saturday morning different police forces started releasing statements basically declining the power.  By the following Monday, all 34 of Ontario’s municipal police forces had declined it.
The police represent the judicial branch of government, while the cabinet and Ford represent the executive branch. When the police declined those powers, it was a check on the executive.  Ford’s government stepped back, and issued a replacement order by the end of Saturday. What happened was a stinging rebuke. What kind of trust was lost between those two branches? Can Ford continue governing without it?  The answer is open to debate.
In one sense the answer is yes.  It could be argued that the most recent attempts to reopen were a matter of timing.  Ford knew there was a third wave coming, it’s possible he saw a window to help businesses recoup a some small amount of lost revenue, even knowing he would have to eventually close them.   The new restrictions could be seen as an honest mistake that went too far- the quick reversal something to be grateful for.  The current situation as much about the lack of vaccines, and closure of federal borders, both of which, are federal problems as it is about lockdowns.  The institutions did their checks and balances, and now we can move on.
In another sense no.  It could be argued that in choosing to ignore the first set of restrictions, police forces have effectively expressed their lack of confidence in the premier; the chief lawmaker in the province.   The coverage of what happened that weekend has revealed a cabinet divided along rural/urban lines, and a Premier unable or unwilling to take a tough decision. Other coverage paints a stark picture of the cost of these restrictions.  Ford’s fate is an open question to be solved by either the electorate in another year, or cabinet, and his caucus now.