June 7 came and went. The sun came up the morning of June 8, and the sky didn’t fall (as my father-in-law reminded—and he isn’t a PC supporter). Welcome to ‘Ford World’ as a colleague recently coined it.
But whether it’s Ford World, A New World, Your World, or Our World, Ontarians quite convincingly drew an end to 15 years of Liberal rule.
And what a week! But maybe not the sort of week critics had been predicting? A few days after what can only be described as a ‘tremendously’ (sorry, I have to steal an oft-used presidential superlative) bad first visit to Canada by Donald Trump, Premier-Elect Ford wasted no time getting a head start on his new job.
In the face of Trump’s feeling that he was simply slighted—or worse stabbed in the back by his (former?) friend Justin Trudeau—after the PM intimated that ‘Canada won’t be pushed around’ when it comes to protecting Canadian jobs and one of the biggest trade relationships in the world, talks on NAFTA 2.0 quickly took a turn for the worse. Fire and fury followed, with the President vowing that Trudeau’s `disrespect’ (I think he was suggesting?) will “cost Canadians a lot of money.”
Now rewind to the start of the Ontario election campaign: ‘Doug Ford is our Donald Trump’. Remember that one? ‘Ford has no experience to be Premier’. The fear and loathing were real, and it didn’t let up. And I suspect it won’t for some time to come.
But the facts are the facts. Trump’s threat to attack Canada’s auto industry is fighting words to anyone who knows anything about Canada-U.S. trade. Indeed the original Canada-U.S Auto Pact was a precursor to the 1988 Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement…which of course, led to NAFTA a few years later.
Yes, there are those who will surely say Doug Ford isn’t ready to be Premier. But after week one, it’s safe to say that he’s at least ready to fight for Ontarians in the face of a stiff upper-cut from Trump. Tariffs in the range of 25% on automobiles would all but turn the lights out on the domestic industry. And ironically, it would put thousands of Americans out of work in the very states Trump rode to victory—the Michigans, Ohios, and Wisconsins. Ontario would plunge into recession.
But shoulder-to-shoulder they are: Ford, Trudeau, former PM Harper, Quebec Premier Couillard, former PM Brian Mulroney (the architect of the original FTA), other Premiers, MPs, MPPs of all political stripes; and the list goes on. All standing up for Canada in the face of this threat.
It is early days in Ford World. But for now, the non-partisan response is to give credit where credit is due.
Kevin Macintosh is a former political staffer who served through parts of Brian Mulroney, Kim Campbell, Mike Harris and Stephen Harper eras.