Doug Ford rules out run at federal politics
Joshua Freeman, CP24.com
Published Thursday, January 9, 2020 11:52AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, January 9, 2020 2:24PM EST
Premier Doug Ford is ruling out a run at federal office for the time being.
Speaking with CP24 in a sit-down interview Thursday, Ford said he is currently “laser-focused on Ontario” when asked whether he might be interested in entering federal politics.
“I just want to focus on Ontario. We have a big job at hand right now. Knock on wood, the economy is booming.”
He said that right now, he is focused on the economy, increasing healthcare spending, and education.
“Those are the three areas people really care about,” Ford said.
The Conservative Party of Canada has set a date of June 27 to pick a new leader to replace Andrew Scheer. The move follows a disappointing showing in the federal election that saw the party win the overall popular vote, but remain in opposition.
During the federal campaign, Ford kept a conspicuously low profile, with many speculating that the federal party feared his low approval rating might tarnish their chances.
“I think I’m going to leave it up to them to have a good leadership (race),” Ford said Thursday, referring to the federal Conservative leadership contest. “I’m not getting involved again. I’m laser-focussed on Ontario. I just want to wish all the people running all the best and may the best person win.”
Mom was a ‘true leader’
Ford, who is currently grieving the loss of his mother, also spoke about her influence on their family.
"She was the real matriarch of our family and a true leader," he said. He recalled that over the years, Diane Ford welcomed “thousands of people to her backyard in Etobicoke for various political and community events.”
She passed away from cancer on Sunday at the age of 85.
Ford also recalled that his mother "never got over" the death of her son, former Toronto mayor Rob Ford, who died of cancer in 2016.
Diane Ford is set to be laid to rest on Saturday. Visitation is being held for her this week and there will be a public funeral service at the Toronto Congress Centre on Saturday ahead of a private burial.
Ford hopeful for deal with teachers
In the wide-ranging interview, Premier Ford also touched on the ongoing labour dispute with between the province and various teachers’ unions and said that he is “proud” of the way that Education Minister Stephen Lecce is handling the file.
“We’re working hard. I’m just so proud of Minister Lecce. He is just an incredible person, a great communicator. He’s doing a great job,” Ford said.
He praised “hard-working teachers” while deriding the heads of their unions.
“What I’m hearing from them (teachers) is they just wanna stay in the classroom, they want to get this going and keep working and I differentiate between them and the heads of the unions,” Ford said. “For 30 years they want to fight with any government, with any premier, but we’ll get a deal done and it’ll be beneficial to the students who are our priority.”
The Ontario Secondary School Teachers Union has been locked in a public battle with Lecce for months over wages, class sizes, e-learning courses and educational supports.
The union charges that the province is trying to unfairly cap their wages below the rate of inflation and is seeking to impose unproven teaching methods to save money.
The other major teaching unions have followed suit, with all of them joining a court challenge against the Ford government’s wage cap legislation and several of them engaging in more limited job action of their own.
The province has characterized the teachers as being obsessed with wages. Both sides accuse the other of refusing to listen to parents or to bargain in good faith.
Ford did not directly address those issues Thursday, but thanked teachers for their work and said he’s hopeful there will be a deal.
“I just want to thank them personally for doing a great job and hopefully we can put this to bed and move forward,” he said.