Ford needs to learn to hold his ground - Denny Scott editorial
Effectively leading a country, a province, a county or even a municipality takes a special kind of person: to be that kind of a leader, you need to be ready for people to not like you.
Elected leaders need to be liked enough to get voted into the position, but ready to fall in the eyes of the very people who put them in power because you can’t always make popular decisions. The most important part of the job, however, is to stick to your guns and make those decisions for the betterment of all your constituents.
Recently, Premier Doug Ford, as an example, has continued to hedge his bets and walk back rulings based on the reaction of the public which, in my opinion, is one of the main reasons we’re sitting in the middle of the third, and now most deadly, wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Whether it’s Ford pushing off important lockdown rules until after major events (like Easter or Christmas) or even just putting those rules off until after a weekend, he’s doing more harm than good: people are rushing to get events in or crowding malls because of the warning given.
Keep in mind this is different from, say, the decision to close schools, which won’t cause any kind of rush to buy or race to get together with people, but could be made far ahead of time to make things easier for parents.
Being a good leader might mean being an unpopular leader and having to make tough decisions, but that’s the role that Ford and his ilk signed up for when they let their names stand for public office.
While many people were impressed (and a great many of us surprised) with how he handled the pandemic early on, he has continued to fail this province through not listening to the experts, siding with big-box stores over mom-and-pop businesses and not standing his ground.
That’s the problem with politicians in the modern era: they’re more worried about their next term than making the important decisions in their current term.
I, for one, was happy when Ford decided to issue more police powers as part of the most recent round of actions (the stay-at-home order) because it might actually mean that people would think twice about breaking the rules and help to curb the pandemic. It might also put a stop to the number of people travelling from “hotspots” to other areas, like say the communities near cottages along the lakes of Huron County which will inevitably see cottagers return soon despite the stay-at-home order.
However, in the face of becoming unpopular due to the action, Ford once again walked back the decision. If you want to compare his actions to a politician who is putting what they feel is the best plan of action forward, despite the potential backlash, you don’t have to look much further than North Huron Township.
While it is true that I don’t agree with a lot of the actions taken by North Huron recently, it would be hard to say they are backtracking on their plans.
Take, for example, the hotly-contested cross-border servicing issue: the council has again decided to re-enter negotiations with Morris-Turnberry for cross-border servicing, and if it doesn’t work out, North Huron council will face some difficult decisions.
In a recent interview with The Citizen, Reeve Bernie Bailey said that, if an agreement can’t be reached, North Huron Township Council may have to consider turning off the water to existing Morris-Turnberry residents on the water system. He says that, because of the legalities of having cross-border infrastructure, an agreement is absolutely necessary for North Huron to be able to maintain the integrity of its infrastructure and guarantee the safety of everyone who accesses the water and wastewater systems.
As part of the negotiations, Bailey wants to look at other ways that Morris-Turnberry can contribute to North Huron to offset the costs of maintaining and upgrading its infrastructure that goes beyond the regular usage.
Morris-Turnberry Mayor Jamie Heffer has stated that Morris-Turnberry wants the agreement to only deal with water and wastewater.
Despite both stances being logical Both councils, however, have found themselves maligned in the public and in “Letters to the Editor” in The Citizen for sticking to their guns.
Again, I’m not saying what’s right or wrong here, just that it’s admirable that the politicians are sticking to their guns and following the suggestions of their own staff and legal counsel, in the face of a potential backlash.
Sticking to your guns is what makes you a good politician. Great politicians, however, can have their mind changed as a result of the facts, not as a result of potentially becoming unpopular or wanting to improve their chances in the polls. The Ontario PC Party would be wise to take that kind of lesson to heart and review who they have leading the party.