'You can't have it both ways:' Ford slams cottage country mayors for hair cut protest
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Tuesday, June 9, 2020 3:00PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, June 9, 2020 5:28PM EDT
Premier Doug Ford is criticizing the behaviour of two cottage country mayors who made a show of getting hair cuts on Tuesday afternoon as a means of protesting his government’s decision to leave their communities out of the next stage of Ontario’s reopening.
On Monday the province announced that restaurants, salons and other businesses would be able to reopen at the end of the week except in the GTA and in a handful of other areas with a higher number of new COVID-19 cases, including Haldimand-Norfolk County where an outbreak at a single farm has now infected 164 people.
Following the decision, the mayors of Haldimand and Norfolk counties issued a statement accusing the province of leaving their communities behind without so much as consulting with their medical officer of health.
The mayors, Norfolk County’s Kristal Chopp and Haldimand County’s Ken Hewitt, then took things one step further on Tuesday when they decided to get haircuts as a show of protest.
That action prompted a swift rebuke from Ford during his daily briefing at Queen’s Park.
He said that he was shocked that the mayors would take such a hard-lined position on reopening, especially after they threatened to fine cottage-goers from outside the region last month amid concerns over the spread of COVID-19.
“They were the same mayors that were shouting and screaming and that is fine, God bless them but all of a sudden to do 180 like that in a couple weeks as your numbers are going up in your area. I just can’t figure it out,” Ford said. “They are the last two mayors in the whole province out of 444 mayors that I would think would be doing this but this pandemic does strange thing to people.”
Last month both Chopp and Hewitt expressed concerns about GTA residents heading to their cottages and hastening the spread of COVID-19 within their communities.
The medical officer of health for the country even went so far as to introduce a $5,000 per day fine that was intended to prevent anyone with a primary residence outside the region from accessing their cottages.
“You can’t be telling everyone to stay away and that we will fine you if you go to the cottage that you pay taxes for and then a couple weeks later sit there getting a haircut and going against the protocol. Give me a break,” Ford said Tuesday. “I get it. Things change but you can’t have it both ways.”
‘A slap in the face’
Speaking with CP24 on Tuesday afternoon, Hewitt said that he is not necessarily suggesting that Haldimand-Norfolk County restaurants and hair salons should be allowed to reopen this week.
The point that he is trying to make, he said, is that businesses should not be penalized just because they are located in a community that has a farm or a long-term care home that has experienced an outbreak, as was the case in his county.
He said that the Ford government also failed his county by not providing it with the “extra testing kits” needed to properly test migrant workers at area farms for COVID-19.
“Our community and our local people business owners have done everything we have asked them to do for the last three or four months and to tell them that because of a controlled outbreak you are not allowed to reopen it is a slap in the face,” he said.