This week Doug Ford said he was sorry. And he cried. Bruce Arthur writes:
The premier is in self-isolation after exposure to a positive COVID case, and broke down talking about not being able to hold a parent’s hand as they die, and maybe that was part of the emotion. Maybe it really was the accumulated weight, but then, we are all carrying accumulated weight. Talk to an ICU nurse sometime. Mostly, Doug Ford didn’t look like he was up to the job.
The apology and the tears were good theatre; but they were a distraction:
There is a better way to do this, and instead the government decided on policies so absurd they enraged the entire political spectrum, with plummeting polls to match. Which, if we’re being honest, was probably the biggest reason Doug said sorry.
Ford also said the buck stopped with him, before blaming the federal government for everything. The strangeness, the breakdown, the setting — it was all reminiscent of the Rob Ford era, and it was striking.
It was all a show to avoid what is the whole point:
The point is that so much damage has been done, and will be done, and what matters now is what this government does. There are already 800 COVID-19 patients in Ontario ICUs, and the patient transport system is the only reason several hospitals haven’t been overwhelmed. The ICU number isn’t even the true number, because there are so many patients who would ordinarily be in the ICU, but are being given supplemental oxygen on the wards. Elective surgeries are gone. Triage is underway.
The point is that this government owns the third wave, lock, stock and coffins. They were told what would happen; they opened Ontario up anyway, waited until three weeks ago to do anything, waited another week before doing a little more, and left the vulnerable root causes untouched.
They could have controlled it. They chose not to. Ford cried the same day one of his MPPs, Jane McKenna of Burlington, spoke in the legislature of COVID-19 Chicken Littles. That’s probably the kind of person the premier was speaking of when he mentioned the people who thought a stay-at-home order should not have happened at all.
The point is that if Ontario manages to avoid the worst-case modelling presented by the science table it will be because so many people did so much to save us from a provincial government that still didn’t understand the playgrounds shouldn’t close. The case curve finally appears to be flattening; it’s now possible Ontario could hold this to 1,000 in the ICU. But ICU numbers will take some time to fall. Emptying the ICUs, even if cases drop and continue to drop, will take months.
So what the government does matters, Real, easy paid sick leave for workers who need it; Ford is already signalling he won’t impose costs on business owners, though. Close more nonessential businesses; that still hasn’t happened. Pour vaccines into hot spots; that may be on the list. Hot spots in Toronto and Peel are slated to get 25 per cent of Pfizer now; the science table asked for 50 per cent. When the science table laid out its recommendations in that letter earlier this week, it dawned on me that it was the first time Ontario had ever seen a strategy that wasn’t just to react, to protect donors, and to hope the hospitals didn’t tip.
Reaction defines Doug Ford. Proactive behaviour is not his thing.
Image: The Toronto Star