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Opinion: Doug Ford shows he's stuck in the 1950s

"Collect the dole?" Straight from the 1950s
Doug Ford
Ontario Premier Doug Ford (Matt Vis,

Doug Ford--a man of the people?

Only if the people referred to are stuck in the 1950s like the Premier of Ontario.

The gaffe-prone Ford has done it again with his refusal to apologize about an outrageous remark he made at a news conference this week about immigrants.

He was saying Ontario needs more immigrants to fill labour shortages when he said “You come here like every other Canadian has come here, you work your tail off. If you think you’re coming to collect the dole and sit around, not going to happen. Go somewhere else. You want to work, come here.”


“Collect the dole?” Straight from the 1950s.

It is called Ontario Works social assistance program and newly-arrived immigrants are not eligible to collect social assistance benefits. Ford doesn’t let the facts get in the way of forming an opinion.

The Premier told the Ontario Legislature he has been “pro-immigration from Day 1” and that may be true. Does he understand how our immigration system works and how hurtful and disrespectful his comment was?

Not a bit.

The opposition jumped on his remarks, seizing the opportunity to portray the Premier as out of touch with modern-day Ontario.

NDP MPP Doly Begum, who asked the Premier to apologize during Question Period, also asked him what he would do to help thousands of foreign-trained doctors and nurses who are unable to work in their chosen fields because of credential recognition barriers. We have many trained nurses here in North Bay who are working as PSWs while they jump through the accreditation hoops.

My former colleague Debbie Douglas, executive director of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI) said the remark was “xenophobic” for reflecting the unfounded belief that immigrants, refugees, and migrant workers come to Ontario ta take advantage of its social safety net.

“His comments landed as racist rhetoric,” she is quoted as saying in Wednesday’s Globe and Mail. “My sense is that the Premier is truly not understanding why it is that communities, and the diversity of communities, are responding the way they are.”

I once arranged a meeting for OCASI board members in the Queen’s Park office of our MPP, Vic Fedeli. They were impressed with his knowledge of immigration issues and his empathy. They are not saying the same about the Premier.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the Premier’s comments were “abhorrent” and “racist” and his party has used “dog-whistle politics” in the past to send signals to supporters with intolerant views.

She has a point. Where else in Ontario can the right-wing fringe element park their votes? The People’s Party of Canada does not have a provincial presence, so it’s the Progressive Conservatives. PC MPPs know those folks comprise a minority of their base.

Should Doug Ford apologize?

Of course.

Will he? That’s unlikely.

Doug Ford and his late brother Rob, former mayor of Toronto, typify old-school politics, and “Ford Nation” built a base in the GTA that makes it difficult for challengers from within the PC party.

I am sure ministers like Vic Fedeli and Christine Elliott privately condemn the Premier’s remarks, but publicly, with our political system, you fall in line with the leader and play down the remarks, saying the Premier really didn’t mean what he said.

But the truth is, he did mean it, sees nothing wrong with it, and he won’t apologize.

Welcome to Ontario—1955.

Editor’s Note: Don Curry is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant living in North Bay and is a member of the Bay Today community advisory committee.

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Don Curry

About the Author: Don Curry

Don Curry is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant and president of Curry Immigration Consulting and a former journalism instructor
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