Hi Doug, can I call you Doug? Allow me to start this by coming clean. I am not a fan of yours. I’ve never been. Since your government was elected I’ve been an ardent critic of your policies and actions. When this pandemic hit, your track record to date did not leave me with a lot of confidence that we were in good hands. I mean look at it: the callous treatment of autistic families and children, the patronage appointments in the face of promises of accountability, and of course the needlessly long rotating school strikes parents and children were subjected to just prior to this pandemic hitting. Of course we can’t forget the incompetence of redesigning our province’s license plates to make them un readable when a light is shone on them. These are not the stories you want to have on the resume of the leader who is going to lead us through a pandemic response.
Yet, you surprised myself and the rest of Ontarians. Your daily press briefings have been a calming force in reassuring the province we’ll get through this. Calm and measured, relying on science to guide us through the pandemic. It was the right response of a leader, and what we needed at this time. It’s no surprise that your polling numbers have recovered in a dramatic fashion.
Many in Ontario have been wondering, where has this Doug Ford been this whole time. However, don’t let yourself fall into complacency Doug. So far your governments pandemic response has been spot on, but as this has gone on some blind spots are beginning to appear. A rather large on is your willful refusal to enact commercial tenant eviction protection legislation runs the risk of being a blight on your pandemic record. I’ve written about the need in The Spec. As has Jon Shell of Savesmallbusiness.ca, in a column he’s written in Macleans.
The arguments against enacting some kind of protection against small business eviction protection are flimsy. Especially, when your peers in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have already passed legislation to ensure their small businesses are protected. You have also enacted protection for residential tenants from being evicted here in Ontario. If there is a reason why its more legally murky to pass protection for small businesses but not residents, it remains to be seen to me.
People will notice when their favorite restaurants begin to close because landlords are evicting them. Locally in Halton, Facebook groups have sprouted up to promote and encourage patronage of locally owned restaurants. Across the province, regular people are coming together to support these struggling businesses as best they can. However it is not enough in most cases. Tenant protection is needed to help small businesses survive and transition into the post-COVID19 economy.
Right now Doug, you are turning your party’s favors around in this province. Where you were once fated for a one term record, you’ve managed to make the Ontario PC brand competitive once again in the province. All of this can change in a heartbeat though. When the evictions begin to pile up, and the out of work entrepreneur begins to lay the blame at your feet, how long do you think that current good will is going to last? As people’s favorite restaurants and boutiques begin to close they are going to start to turn to you and ask why are you not taking action. Passing the buck is not going to suffice. When the doors start to close on businesses, people will start taking a look at other shortcomings of your government’s pandemic response. Things like our long-term care homes.
When that happens, those high numbers can become more of a blip than a trend. It’s your call Doug.