Question Period at Queens Park at the best of times is a form of low theatre with opposition members asking canned questions in mock outrage that would earn them the hook in community theatre in Listowel– and getting talking-point answers, but Tuesday it reached something of a new low. Government House Leader Paul Calandra reverted to a form he first displayed in the dying days of the Harper Government and in the subsequent election, where regardless of the question, he would respond with talking points that bore no resemblance to the question asked.
NDP member Peter Tabuns was asking about a group Called Vaughan Working Families, who Tabuns said were big donors of the PC’s who spent a lot on money attacking teachers. He wondered if these attack ads represented illegal campaign contributions. For anybody who wanted a definition of gaslighting, Calandra’s answer was instructive. He first falsely attributed complementary comments about the government’s investments in Ontario to Tabuns and then somehow segued into a pitch for all members of the house to write Trudeau asking him to shut down the border crossings. There were also friendly questions on the border issue from government backbenchers with predictable responses. While Question Period was underway, the Premiers office issued a statement on the same subject that read:
“In the last two weeks, we have sent the federal government three urgent letters requesting immediate action on the borders. The Premier also appealed directly to the Prime Minister last Thursday.
To date, we have received no formal response to our requests and there has been no indication that any further action is coming to stop the importation of variants into Canada.
Over the same two-week period, over 150,000 people came into Canada through our land borders and more than 65,000 through our airports. As well, 35 international and 23 domestic flights from outside Ontario landed at Toronto Pearson International Airport with COVID-positive passengers. Many of these planes carried multiple people infected with the virus and exposed an unknown number of other travellers arriving in Ontario.
These cases and countless others could have been avoided had action been taken sooner. We are once again pleading with the federal government to impose stricter measures at our borders, including banning all non-essential travel, implementing pre-departure PCR testing for domestic flights and closing the quarantine loophole at land border crossings.
More can and must be done. We cannot sit back and watch the fourth wave of COVID-19 walk across our border.”
The theatre in Question period and the premier’s statement are signs that the special relationship with Ottawa that Ford talked about last year is at an end. The Ontario Government seemed to have been caught off-guard when the Federal government mobilized medical staff from the military and other provinces and sent them to Ontario last month; and today it was announced the federal government wants to have its environmental watchdog take a closer look at the controversial Highway 413 project.