What a difference a year makes. Sort of.
A year ago at this time, Premier Doug Ford was getting positive reviews in many quarters for his almost daily news briefings and apparent leadership in guiding Ontario through an unprecedented pandemic. (Well, there was his unfortunate “enjoy March Break” comment, but …)
Of course, there also were many people critical of him at the time for previous attempts to reduce public health funding, among other small-c conservative moves.
Fast-forward 12 months and the gang who couldn't shoot straight is scrambling to try to stumble its way through the third wave of the same pandemic.
We suppose we could give Ford credit for quickly responding to the huge public outcry after last Friday's ill-conceived, back-of-a-napkin plan to give police unconstitutional new powers to stop and question people without cause.
Like he had a choice in backing down.
Credit police services across the province, including Niagara's, for forcing his hand by having the good sense to say they would not go along with the Ford idea.
Sometimes ideology and public health do not mix well. Especially when it forces people to choose between their health and feeding their families.
Rather than follow the advice of everyone from his own health, science and policy experts to social advocates and institute paid sick days for workers caught in the COVID maelstrom, it was more important to criminalize legal behaviour in the midst of the pandemic.
And shut down playgrounds. And golf courses (yes, we play the game, but Ontario seems to be the only jurisdiction in North America that has decided non-contact, physically distanced, outdoor recreation in a parkland setting is a really bad idea).
Taking a page from a former U.S. president, Ford used Twitter on Saturday to backtrack on the closing of playgrounds and other outdoor structures. Governance by social media is not yet a thing, however, and the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake held off reopening facilities until officials were sure the government would follow through.
The result here in NOTL was lots of confusion and our bylaw enforcement officers, simply trying to do the job we ask of them, were harassed and ridiculed by “adult” visitors who should know better.
We are a small business that relies on small business for our livelihood. We don't like these revolving lockdowns either, but they beat the alternative, despite what last weekend's protesters in Niagara Falls and elsewhere would have you believe.
The bottom line in Ford's case is that had he implemented proper lockdowns previously when all the science experts urged him to do so, we very likely would not be in the mess we are in now.
We hope the premier finally has the good sense, as has been hinted at this week, to finally restore, and expand, paid sick days in Ontario so those essential worker “heroes” he is so happy to praise aren't forced to choose between their health and going to work.
And, for goodness sake, stop politicizing public health and pay more than lip service to the science and medical experts.