After a turbulent Conservative leadership election saw Doug Ford take over from former-leader Patrick Brown, it didn’t take long for people to start making the Trump comparisons. In fact, people started making Trump comparisons the moment Ford entered the race and it doesn’t look like they’ll be dying down any time soon, especially with the incumbent premier on board.
The campaign for Ontario leadership doesn’t officially start until 28 days before the June 7 election, but that hasn’t stopped the two premier front-runners from starting in on the character attacks. During a press conference at an Ontario hospital Wednesday, Wynne took the first swing in what she herself said she feared would be a “vicious election” by comparing her opponent to Donald Trump.
“Doug Ford sounds like Donald Trump and that’s because he is like Donald Trump,” she said, “He believes in an ugly, vicious brand of politics. He’ll say anything about anyone at any time because, just like Trump, it is all about him. It’s not about our people, it’s not about their families. It’s not about Ontario’s success. It’s about him.”
She added, “He may be Donald Trump, but I’m not Hillary Clinton.”
She was responding to comments Ford had made earlier in the week that Wynne and others in the Liberal government should be jailed for the way they have governed the province. For more than a few people, that triggered memories of Make America Great Again hat-clad crowds chanting “Lock her up.” Ford’s exact words, according to the Toronto Star were: “If Kathleen Wynne tried to pull these kinds of shady tricks in private life, then there would be a few more Liberals joining David Livingston in jail.”
Ford, who was a supporter of Trump in 2016, shot back at Wynne, calling her comments “desperate.” He also doubled down on the same line of thought that prompted Wynne’s comparison in the first place, suggesting she runs “the most politically corrupt government this country has ever seen.”
“She can fight an election in another country, but I’m going to focus on the people of Ontario,” Ford added to refute Wynne’s accusation that he isn’t focused on Ontarians.
Wynne released her full statement in a Facebook post later Wednesday and explained further why she believes it is important to “call that bullying behaviour out for what it is.” She also appeared on CBC’s Metro Morning to reiterate the comments.
The Liberals, who have candidly admitted there would need to be a “dramatic falling off of the Tory vote” for them to come anywhere close to their last election win, also started airing personal attack ads last week. Their campaign to expose “The Real Doug Ford” features some of the Conservative leader’s most controversial quotes and actions.
— Ontario Liberal Party (@OntLiberal) April 13, 2018
Climate change is the single most urgent issue of our time. But the Real Doug Ford thinks action can wait and Ontario can abdicate its global responsibility. RT if you disagree with Doug and agree we must fight climate change https://t.co/MFIMtlpa5N #onpoli pic.twitter.com/XW5vLFkbZ8
— Ontario Liberal Party (@OntLiberal) April 16, 2018
How did this get so personal so fast? Probably because in a lot of ways, it feels like the campaign for the 2016 American election never ended. Between the ongoing Russia investigation into possible conspiracy and Donald Trump’s inability to let anything go (even though he won and Hillary lost), it seems like we’ve been on this same campaign trail since 2015. Add that to the similarities between Wynne/Ford and Clinton/Trump – a woman with more political experience accused of being corrupt, a populist businessman labeled a “bully” — and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
One thing is for sure: Wynne was 100 per cent right when she made that self-fulfilling prophecy that this campaign would be vicious.