Editorial – Pandemic politics

Ontarians are just under two years from the next provincial election, but based on the news last week, it seemed like we were about to head to the polls.

Recent announcements by Premier Doug Ford have been rolled out like election platform planks, peppered with on site visits to highlight “good news” stories in friendly locations with tightly controlled messages delivered. This, combined with news of all incumbent MPPs having their candidacy renewed for the next election, certainly seemed like an election call may be near. On September 26th, Ford denied there were any plans of calling an election.

Ford was elected in 2018 with a majority government and a clear mandate. That mandate however has been interrupted by having to lead Ontario’s response to the largest public health crisis in a century. Going to the people to get a recovery mandate is not outside the realm of reason or logic.

New Brunswick has already gone to the polls and elected a new government. British Columbia is in the middle of an election campaign, Saskatchewan announced September 29th that its residents would vote in late October. Up until this past weekend, the possibility of a federal election this Fall was also high. The NDP have since agreed to support the governing Liberals in exchange for concessions in COVID-19 employment insurance supports.

With the exception of Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, British Columbia, and the federal government are all minority governments. Holding an election makes more sense as a government has to navigate dealing with a pandemic and the delicate balancing act of parliamentary politics.

It may be tempting to go to the polls in Ontario to seek a new mandate from the people barely two years into his term. But playing pandemic politics with an election as the infection rates of a second wave continue to climb is irresponsible and foolish. It may be a premier’s right to seek an election, but it is not a good use of time. A majority government is a mandate to govern, period. That means governing through the good and bad times.

Right now, what the residents of Ontario need is for the government to be focused on the task at hand: managing the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic; and navigate the social and economic fall out from it. Do that first, and when it’s over, then go back to politics. Do a good enough job and who knows what may happen.

Since you’re here…

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