Relations between the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario are on a downward slope. Susan Delacourt writes:
While it’s more the rule than the exception to have opposing parties in power at Queen’s Park and on Parliament Hill, relations between the Ford and Trudeau governments appear to be particularly raw, and especially so this week.
On Tuesday, federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer visited Queen’s Park and was warmly greeted by the premier as the “next prime minister of Canada” — a development that would come, Ford said at a photo op in his office, after voters “get rid” of Trudeau in next year’s election.
Meanwhile, federal Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen was accused once again this week of giving the back of the hand to his Ontario counterpart, Lisa MacLeod.
In an interview on Thursday night with CBC’s Power and Politics, Hussen said MacLeod was “engaged in fear mongering and using this issue to demonize people.” As for MacLeod’s claim that 40 per cent of Toronto shelter occupants are refugees, Hussen said: “The figures that are being thrown around are not based on facts.”
MacLeod responded on Twitter that Hussen was a “name-calling bully.” That charge also isn’t new — the two ministers have been sparring almost since the Ford government came to office last summer.
Trudeau’s labour minister, Patty Hajdu, was also plunging into the fray this week, announcing a wave of new worker protections very similar to the ones that have recently been rolled back by the Ford government.
Hajdu spoke out against what she called the “politics of cruelty” and the “devastating” spectacle of governments rolling back worker benefits.
In some ways, this isn't new. Stephen Harper and Dalton McGuinty were never on the best of terms. And Doug Ford has never been diplomatic when it comes to his opinion of Justin Trudeau. Moreover, the advisors for each party are openly hostile to each other:
There is plenty of cross-pollination between partisans in Queen’s Park and Ottawa at present. Trudeau’s government has been built around strong connections to Ontario Liberals. His two chief advisers, Gerald Butts and Katie Telford, are veterans of the old McGuinty government.
Ford’s new government, similarly, has been drawing on a raft of staff connections to the old Harper regime, including Jenni Byrne, who served as Harper’s campaign manager and deputy chief of staff, and is now installed in the premier’s office.
What has happened over the last couple of weeks offers a peek into the 2019 election. In Ontario, things will get mean.