Doug Ford has made a big U Turn. Tom Walkom writes that Ford began his term in office by going to war with Ottawa:
He launched an all-out war against Trudeau’s federal carbon tax. He even brought in a law requiring gas stations to post stickers that blamed Ottawa for the high price of fuel.
He cut back provincial funding for refugee claimants, saying they were the federal government’s responsibility. He chose not to follow federal requirements for infrastructure funding and then blamed Ottawa when the money didn’t flow.
All in all, he had a fine time bashing the federal government. And he seemed to believe that this populist campaign against the powers that be would work for him politically.
In this, he was badly mistaken — just as he was mistaken when he assumed that the scattershot of spending cuts announced in his first budget would earn him political points.
Ford simply didn't understand his fellow citizens:
Most Ontarians don’t view the national government as an external entity imposed upon them. They view it as their government. They expect it to reflect Ontario’s interests and are usually proven correct.
That’s why the politics of regional grievance rarely works here.
So, instead of bashing the federal government, he is now saying he can work with Ottawa:
Ford has not dropped his opposition to the federal carbon tax. But he is no longer fixated on it. A few months ago, he was at daggers drawn with Trudeau on virtually every file. Now he says his relations with the prime minister are “great.”
It appears that the lessons of history are beginning to sink in. Only Oliver Mowat -- in the 19th century -- and Mitchell Hepburn -- in the 20th century -- have successfully gone to war with Ottawa:
Like Ontario premiers before him, ranging from Progressive Conservatives John Robarts and Bill Davis to Liberal David Peterson to New Democrat Bob Rae, Ford says national unity is his focus.
He used to style himself as part of the opposition to federal Liberal infamy, aligning himself with Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe.
Now he is adopting the traditional Ontario role of conciliator — a kind of marriage counsellor devoted to smoothing out differences between disaffected provinces and Ottawa.
Ford appears to be learning on the job.
Image: The Toronto Star