Ontario Premier Doug Ford broke down and issued a tearful apology after his province implemented, then relaxed, the strictest coronavirus restrictions in North America. His critics weren’t appeased.
The Canadian province of Ontario has had the longest lockdown of any North American territory, with little to show for its efforts except business closures and a spike in suicides and depression. Nevertheless, Ford’s government ratcheted up the restrictions last week, sealing off Ontario’s borders to non-essential travellers, extending a stay-at-home order to six weeks, closing playgrounds, and empowering police to enforce the draconian crackdown.
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After a massive public backlash, in which Ontario’s scientific advisers disavowed some of Ford’s decisions, the provincial government reversed course almost immediately, dropping the new police powers and reopening playgrounds. Ford himself addressed the public on Thursday, and apologized for the overreach.
"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."
WATCH: Doug Ford, on the verge of tears, addresses Ontarians on Thursday morning pic.twitter.com/hYaBR1WwP2— Roberto Wakerell-Cruz ✝️ (@Robertopedia) April 22, 2021
Ford then broke down into tears. "I understand your frustration," he said, addressing struggling business owners and citizens unable to visit dying relatives in hospital. "This experience, this pandemic, it's something that has affected every single person."
The premier’s apology came amid a public outcry, as even US newspapers were publishing op-eds calling for his resignation. As such, it didn’t win his critics over.
“Doug Ford has no idea what he's doing, he has no interest in learning, he can fake contrition for about thirty seconds and then goes right back to blustery self-defense,” one Toronto writer declared. “Nothing is going to change until he's out of office, and people will keep getting sick and dying.”
Like most of the Ontario press conferences, this was a waste of time and frustration.— James Wattie (@jameswattie) April 22, 2021
Doug Ford apologized (not sure for what).
Doug Ford took no responsibility or accountability.
We don’t have any details of when a paid sick program is coming or what it will do.
Doug Ford knows he's spiralling and that Ontario voters have lost confidence in his ability to manage this emergency. But "Sorry, folks" won't cut it.— Steven Del Duca (@StevenDelDuca) April 22, 2021
His cold hearted refusal to introduce paid sick days for more than a year has already cost lives. #onpoli
Every single reporter who's tweeting "Doug Ford is holding back tears" or "Doug Ford is making an emmotional apology to Ontario" are sheep. This is an act, and journalists in Ontario are falling for it. #onpoli— Rob Gill (@vote4robgill) April 22, 2021
Aside from the severity of Ontario’s lockdown, Ford is also facing criticism for his reluctance to implement a provincial paid sick-days program, and for allowing hospitals to become overcrowded and vaccine deliveries delayed.
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