Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday April 23, 2021
Ford apologizes after public backlash to enhanced police powers, playground closures
Ontario Premier Doug Ford apologized to Ontarians Thursday morning, days after his government faced intense backlash for introducing a number of additional COVID-19 restrictions that were not recommended by health experts and then nixed earlier this week.
Ford, who is isolating at his late mother’s home in Etobicoke after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19, said at a news conference he wanted to “address the events of this past week” after his government put in new measures in response to “extremely troubling modelling.”
The province was trying to curb mobility in Ontario, he said.
“But we moved too fast,” Ford said, with some measures going too far.
“Simply put, we got it wrong. We made a mistake. These decisions, they left a lot of people really concerned,” Ford said.
“For that I am sorry, and I sincerely apologize.”
The premier and some of his top cabinet ministers have been under fire after announcing last Friday that the province would close playgrounds and hand police arbitrary powers, among other additional measures, in a bid to curb the third wave of the pandemic.
The public outcry to both moves was so swift and fierce that the government reversed course on both within days of the announcement. Members of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table also disavowed the decisions, making clear in interviews with media that they were not based on their own recommendations to cabinet.
Various sources close to the government told CBC News the decisions came amid panic over the latest modelling for the pandemic and fears that Ford’s approval among voters would suffer badly if he was not seen to be taking action.
At one point during Thursday’s news conference, Ford appeared to cry while talking about the pandemic and how hard it has been for businesses, health-care workers and families.
“I understand your frustration,” he said. “This experience, this pandemic, it’s something that has affected every single person.”
Ford said Thursday it is “not lost on him” that he is able to isolate and continue working.
“For too many people right now, that’s not the case,” Ford said.
Throughout the pandemic, Ford and his ministers have shut down calls to create a system for paid sick days in Ontario by saying the province didn’t want to double up on the federal program, which until recently, they repeatedly said was sufficient.
Provincial officials have rejected calls from GTHA (Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area) mayors, the province’s science table, local medical officers of health, Opposition parties and countless citizens to do more. The City of Toronto called on the province to institute paid sick leave last May, but to no avail. (CBC)