Only a few of us change our beliefs, beliefs, or behaviors as adults. Even less, politicians. But sometimes a shock or a deep crisis can lead us to a new model and new perspectives.
Daga Ford’s initial reaction to the younger brother Rob’s tragic end seemed to be just anger. Anger at Rob’s widow, anger at his colleagues, which led to Daga as a populist and angry political success.
Over time, this anger seems to have changed slowly, at least in public. There were fewer diatribes; his policies were still harsh and often narrow, but his behavior seemed to mature.
Then came the pandemic. The first signal of his influence on Dag Ford was his surprising confession that he shared a deep and trusting relationship with Christie Freiland. Old Ford would not have been able to trust the partisan opponent so much, let alone reveal it with such open emotions.
Ford’s new understanding of the value of a broader perspective and only the predictable partisan certainty of the world’s borders was a double-edged sword. Shaken by opposing voices and changing realities has led him to make too many pandemic decisions. Over time, he realized his orientation, soaring prices, embarrassing anti-vaxxers, and demanding that his group agree on his pandemic program. Ford even threw some of his deputies off the bus because of their disloyalty.
His rapprochement with Justin Trudo was the most striking change. It became a partnership – the last time on childcare and electric cars – in which the Prime Minister dug the Ontario Liberal Party a few days before their particularly clumsy campaign. This helped reduce their chances even before the indictment was dropped.
Most of the “adults” who helped lead Ford to a safer and more desirable political path, including Christine Eliot and Rhode Phillips, are now gone. It is to be hoped that persistent delinquents such as Education Minister Steven Lecce and former harpist Greg Rickford will not be allowed to take their seats.
So Ford now has four years to lay the foundations for a more attractive and sustainable heritage: health, housing and a sustainable and prosperous province. Will he return to his old populist deception or will he continue to develop both as a person and as a leader?
One of the first indications will be the speech of the Throne. If he returns to the evangelical Christian view of education, is once again opposed to climate change, or promises to cut jobs and make drastic cuts in curricula, it will mean very bad years ahead – and all hopes for a more positive end. heritage.
However, if Ford continues to balance significant spending with fiscal discipline and use a scalpel instead of an meat ax, in 2026 the province could be more reminiscent of the time of Prime Minister Bill Davis than Mike Harris.
We could have an Ontario government that works more closely with Ottawa, trade unions and civil society than acting as a corporate watchdog.
Early evidence of a ‘new Ford’ would be the appointment of a team of experts to examine the true cost of the 413th highway, including the loss of thousands of acres of our best agricultural land. Davis showed wisdom and courage in canceling the Spadina Freeway more than 50 years ago; his Toronto legacy was then forever golden. Ford could confront its developer lenders and disobedient Ontario municipalities “to expand single-family homes forever” and deliver on its promises to build 1.5 million new homes. It would be a legacy for him to join other prime ministers in pushing for real health care reform.
It will be exciting to see which way Ford goes. If he chooses the main path, he could be a major player in driving the Federal Conservatives out of the dangerous place they are now wandering around, helping them become a desirable party again. If he flirts with the strange Pierre Pewiev and others, he risks joining Mike Harris as another failed mistake in Ontario’s political verdict.
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