Ontario Premier Doug Ford swung back at Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson on Tuesday as the two leaders battle over impending provincewide lockdowns set to begin on Saturday.
Ford’s announcement on Monday that Ottawa would be included in a 28-day lockdown aimed at stemming the spread of the novel coronavirus in Ontario struck the wrong chord with Watson and the city’s top doctor, Vera Etches, who later that day said they do not support locking down the nation’s capital.
Coronavirus infection rates have stabilized in Ottawa since the city entered another month-long lockdown in October, with the local public health unit reporting 16 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday.
There are currently 20 people in hospital with COVID-19 in Ottawa, none of whom are in the intensive care unit, as ICUs across the province reach their capacities.
Watson said the city’s businesses and residents were “blindsided” by the lockdown announcement and said there was “no evidence” to support Ford’s claims that leaving Ottawa out of the shutdown would promote travel from other regions of the province and from across the river in Gatineau, Que.
Ottawa restaurateur calls Ontario lockdowns a ‘kick in the gut’
Ford, who prefaced his comments Tuesday by saying he has a “great deal of respect” for both Watson and Etches, said getting into arguments over restrictions is not what matters in the province’s COVID-19 response.
“Honestly, in my opinion, I think there’s a little bit of politics going on. I don’t care about politics. I am here to protect people’s lives,” he said.
“Now is not the time to ignore the advice of our health experts.”
Etches has long advocated for a balanced approach to the pandemic that weighs the benefits of closing schools and businesses with the impacts on resident’s mental, physical and financial well-being.
“In a shutdown, we lose balance,” she said on Monday.
In defending his decision on Tuesday, Ford pointed to rising levels of COVID-19 in Ottawa’s wastewater tracking system as cause for concern in the city. The seven-day average of viral signal in the city has been on the rise since the start of December, according to researchers monitoring Ottawa’s sewage data.
Ford also said rising cases in Ottawa’s long-term care facilities is an indicator that’s causing concern, but Ottawa Public Health’s COVID-19 dashboard shows long-term care outbreaks do not appear to be on the rise. There are currently six ongoing outbreaks in long-term care homes with no new outbreaks added on Tuesday.
Watson and Etches said they are hopeful Ontario will reduce the lockdown in Ottawa to 14 days, in line with northern Ontario. Nepean MPP Lisa MacLeod said Tuesday on Twitter that restrictions for communities including Ottawa will be reassessed two weeks into the lockdown.
Ford indicated Tuesday he was comfortable taking a wait-and-see approach.
“We’re going to continue to monitor the shutdown measures. I’d love nothing more than to ease them,” he said Tuesday.
Coronavirus: Ontario Premier Doug Ford says without shutdown, Quebecers would be ‘flowing into Ottawa’
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Week In Politics: Trump Is Impeached Again – NPR
Ivanka’s political future comes into sharper focus – POLITICO
When Donald Trump incited a mob riot on Capitol Hill last week, he didn’t just complicate his own political future— he scrambled the political career arcs of his kids as well.
At least three Trump family members are either considering runs for office or being urged to do so, according to well-connected GOP operatives and Trump family allies.
Top party officials say that Lara Trump, wife of the president’s son Eric, is actively contemplating a run for the Senate in North Carolina, where an open seat awaits in 2022. “It’s real and she is legitimately interested in it,” said one Trump family political adviser.
The president’s eldest son, Don Jr., is eyeing a future in politics as well, though allies say it’s unclear when or what office he’d seek after he passed on running for the Senate in Wyoming this last cycle. He and his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle have also been scoping out real estate in Florida.
The newest and most-buzzed about possibility, however, surrounds the president’s daughter Ivanka. The senior White House adviser is set to decamp to Florida after her father’s presidency comes to a close. And though talk of her launching a primary challenge to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has given off the faint whiff of political fan-fick, in reality, Trump officials say, there have been machinations behind the scenes.
One person in contact with the president said that Jared Kushner is viewed as “working single-mindedly to protect and promote his wife’s ‘political career.’” And two sources, including one top GOP fundraiser, said that Trump ally and mega donor Tom Barrack had been pressing fellow Republican financiers to put together some type of operation that could lure Ivanka into entering the race.
“He’s calling people and trying to line them up saying Rubio is terrible, worthless, he’s probably going to lose, Ivanka is going to go there and we should all get together and pledge our support to her and get her to run,” the GOP fundraiser said.
Tommy Davis, a Barrack spokesman, said no chatter of challenging Rubio ever took place.
“It’s not true. He’s never made any comments like this about Marco and he’s not making these calls,” said Davis. “Maybe people are getting confused because we did as much work as we could for the Senate Leadership Fund for the Georgia race. But that was before Christmas. But, no, nothing about Ivanka and nothing about Marco.”
And one person close to Trump said that Ivanka herself had denied having interest in running for office. But the president’s advisers are openly playing up her political potency.
“Ivanka only got into politics to help her father and help his agenda but what’s now clear is that Ivanka is a political powerhouse in her own right,” said Jason Miller, a senior adviser to Trump.
Others in Trumpworld say the signs are evident that Ivanka is leaving the door open to elected office. In late October, Ivanka, who had been registered as a Democrat in the past, gave an interview in which she declared herself “unapologetically pro-life.” One top Florida Republican who is close to the Trumps and Rubio noted that she not only upped her appearances on the campaign trail during the 2020 cycle — both for her father and the two Republicans in the Georgia Senate runoff — but passed out food at a food distribution event in Miami before Christmas.
“We’re taking the possibility seriously,” the Republican official said. “And so is Marco. And that’s a good thing. But you never know. She’s a Trump and the Trumps move on their own timetables.”
And, perhaps most tellingly, in the last week, Steve Bannon, as he was renewing his contacts with Trump himself, began talking up Ivanka’s political resume.
“The second most fire breathing populist in the White House was Ivanka Trump,” the president’s one-time adviser said on a recent podcast of his. If, Bannon added, Rubio voted for the certification of Joe Biden’s election — and he did — then, “I strongly believe and would strongly recommend that Ivanka Trump immediately…. if she is not going to remain an assistant to the president, she should immediately file and run for the senate and primary Marco Rubio in Florida.”
American politics has seen its share of family dynasties before. And though Donald Trump’s standing may have taken a hit by his handling of his election loss — which included inciting a riot that led to violence on Capitol Hill, his ouster from major social media platforms, resignations from his Cabinet, public disgust from party leaders and his second impeachment — public polling still shows that his name remains the most dominant in Republican circles. Virtually everyone expects that to transfer to his children.
“Their brand was certainly stained and it’s a stain we’ll never be able to erase,” said one top Republican strategist. “At the same time, the name of the game is winning a primary and someone with the last name of Trump could win.”
But running in theory is different from running in practice. In Florida, Rubio’s standing has been considered largely stable up to this point. The senator was trashed by hardcore Trump supporters for his vote that certified the Electoral College results. But those close to him said he was expecting far worse. They also point to his solid support in Miami-Dade County, Florida’s most-populous, where 74 percent of the GOP voters are Hispanic and overwhelmingly Cuban-American like Rubio.
“We have nothing bad to say about Ivanka,” said a Rubio adviser. “He’s going to run his race. I’m not sure she really wants to run? She just finished working in the White House and she has three small children — and now she’s going to move to Florida and run against Marco Rubio in a Republican primary?”
For that reason, the expectation among Trump allies and even establishment Republicans is that Ivanka will take her time considering a run while Lara jumps in. One Republican operative who worked with both Lara and Ivanka Trump in 2020 noted that Ivanka was less interested in the rallies and retail politics that come with running for office.
Ivanka Trump is expected to take some time off after leaving the White House, according to one former White House official, and she is currently working on closing out her work, including mitigating the fallout of the riots on Capitol Hill. After that, her family is expected to pack up their home in Washington.
A person close to Lara Trump, meanwhile, said that she has not made any decisions on entering the race in North Carolina, although consultants have been “poking around” for her in the state.
“For [Ivanka] to take on Marco or Florida she’s gotta be ready to rock and roll,” the operative said. “Whereas with Lara, I get the vibe she is ready to go.”
Opinion | Doug Ford's COVID-19 dissenters don't get how politics — or science — works – Toronto Star
The premier has pushed them out of the Progressive Conservative caucus, but they are pushing back hard. They have lost their voice in the party, but gained more publicity and notoriety than anonymous backbenchers ever enjoy.
Who wins this power struggle in mid-pandemic? Where do the rest of us fit in?
It is tempting to pick apart the misguided or misleading arguments of York Centre MPP Roman Baber, who went public with his dissent Friday. Or to assail the antimask histrionics of MPP Randy Hillier in eastern Ontario, or rebut the pandemic polemics of Belinda Karahalios in Cambridge, both of whom jumped ship — and jumped the shark — last year.
Baber is the rookie politician who first tried to make his mark by cruelly mocking and publicly haranguing former premier Kathleen Wynne at Ford’s behest in 2018. Now the roles are reversed, with Ford’s Tories deconstructing and demolishing Baber’s arguments on Friday — far better than any columnist could, so no point revisiting them here.
Karahalios, who refuses to wear a mask most days in the legislature, is harder to fathom because she has few followers. But the dissent and descent of Hillier, an aspiring (if not quite inspiring) orator with a fondness for suspenders, has been hard to watch — destructive but also instructive.
A founder and leader of the Ontario Landowners movement — our homegrown collection of anti-government paranoiacs — Hillier was a proud libertarian and parliamentarian who belatedly joined the Tories, only to be bounced from caucus for running afoul of Ford. An eccentric electrician with a soft spot for Tibet and pit bulls, he is now unleashed — leading the charge against mandatory masks.
In normal times, the media love covering the outliers and giving voice to dissidents. People reflexively fault premiers and prime ministers for using their power to muzzle critics, they question the strictures of cabinet solidarity, or they wonder about the demands of caucus consensus over dissidence in our parliamentary government.
But the back and forth reminds us that there is a fine line between consensus and dissidence, between dissenters and fomenters. The trouble with second-guessing is that it works both ways.
Consensus has become a dirty word in our society, but it shouldn’t be confused with conformity and acquiescence. At some point, even in our adversarial system, we need an agreed set of facts and policies or we have alternate realities.
As any political journalist understands, politics is a team sport and parliamentary government depends on cabinet secrecy and caucus solidarity. The point is not merely to keep everyone in line, but to agree on a path forward so that everyone isn’t going in different directions.
Consensus is not only central to political science but pure science. It’s easy to forget that the science of epidemiology — like the science of climatology — relies on probabilities more than certainties.
Climate deniers reject the science of global warming on the grounds that it is not immediately observable like the laws of gravity, so how do we know climate change is real? Weather disasters might seem empirical but are hardly irrefutable.
The real reason people believe in global warming is that we can point to a powerful and enduring consensus among climate scientists — recognized experts who have thrashed out their intellectual disagreements and differing interpretations. It is no accident that the most authoritative work on climate change, emanating from a UN panel, was always described in the media as based on consensus reports from thousands of scientists.
When a lone political wolf like Baber or Hillier challenges the orthodoxy and efficacy of COVID-19 measures, it is easy to question his lack of medical credentials as a backbencher. Instead we turn to the preponderance of scientific expertise that forms our provincial consensus, do we not?
And yet throughout this pandemic there has been a peculiar crusade against the credentials and abilities of the scientific experts contributing to the provincial consensus on combating COVID-19. Often the criticism is directed against one politician, demonizing and personalizing the premier’s performance as if he were single-handedly standing in the way of an otherwise clear path to a COVID-free Ontario (never mind our status as a large jurisdiction with the least COVID-19 fallout on the continent).
The carping and questioning of credentials has also been aimed at chief medical officer of health Dr. David Williams (who was bizarrely accused of being a Ford appointee and lackey — he is neither), or his deputy, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, or the entire roster of epidemiologists and other experts who have come together to find common ground despite their internal disagreements. To watch the public briefing by Ontario’s COVID-19 brain trust Tuesday was to see their clarity and sagacity.
Ford’s government has largely heeded their advice but the critics on both sides believe they know better, or would do better. To be sure, the premier’s mistakes have been well documented, and the experts aren’t always right, but in the clamour about alleged incompetence we are sapping our collective solidarity.
The epidemiological science of COVID-19 is evolving daily, just as the political science of governing in a pandemic remains a work in progress. Public dissent — whether epidemiological, epistemological or political — can be honourable.
Sometimes, though, enduring dissent merely betrays cognitive dissonance — the inability to hold two conflicting thoughts at once: Ford being an unappealing premier to his critics, but capable of making critical pandemic appeals based on the best medical advice.
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