The election of Doug Ford as Leader of Ontario’s PC Party has—right on cue—prompted all manner of anxiety and emotion, and not just on the left. It is right across the political spectrum.
Oh no, our Donald Trump! He’s the second coming of his late brother! He’s his penny-pinching dad, Doug Sr.! He’s scary! He’s not smart enough to be Premier! He isn’t sophisticated, articulate or smooth enough to lead Canada’s biggest province!
The fear, the loathing, is palpable.
That’s certainly the perception…but here’s my gut feeling on the reality: He is proudly bits and pieces of his brother and his father. And that isn’t a bad thing.
Doug Ford is no Donald Trump. That is a good thing. Yes, he is plain spoken and no one can accuse him of being a narcissist; but I don’t get the feeling he is casual with the truth. He doesn’t carry the weight of the world on his shoulders (a la Stephen Harper). He could even be accused of having a sunny disposition (a la you-know-who).
So why all the hand-wringing? Why the charges, the fear of a ‘hidden agenda’? Where have I heard that one before?
A reality check: He won, the establishment lost. There’s a 15-year-old government due to hit the polls again in a couple of months. The PC’s have chosen a leader that even Premier Wynne’s own campaign chief says will be hardest of all to beat. And my guess is that he knows something that Ford Nation adherents know well: All Politics is Local. If there was ever a family that knew and lived by that maxim, it is surely the Ford family.
It is going to be a very interesting next couple of months indeed. Premier Wynne cannot be counted out. She is sharp and she is a fighter. She is also practicing her own very smart version of All Politics is Local: Running on a good new minimum wage, and affordable childcare—both speak big-time local!
So who knows? Maybe the hand-wringing will more and more turn to head scratching? Ha, I do know a few of my Liberal friends are increasingly surprised to see Doug Ford is not quite as scary as they first imagined. Time will tell.
Kevin Macintosh is a former political staffer who served through parts of Brian Mulroney, Kim Campbell, Mike Harris and Stephen Harper eras.