Ford government needs to straighten up and fly right

This week Ontario Premier Doug Ford heads to the Council of the Federation meetings in Saskatoon. It will be his first public foray since his cabinet shuffle was upstaged by his now former Chief of Staff known as Dean French.

Thankfully for Ford he has an event prior to his arrival in Saskatoon, he’ll be part of a media availability with several other premiers in Calgary as he makes a brief stop in Calgary for the Stampede.

Toronto media, which actually means the national media in many ways, have taken notice.

The questions for Ford will be all about French and about the recent outburst by tourism minister Lisa MacLeod.

This will likely dominate a news conference in Calgary that will also include the premiers of Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and the Northwest Territories. I’m sure it isn’t what Ford or his fellow premiers want to talk about.

But if that is the case then it is only further proof that Ford and his team need to get on the straight and narrow.

The cabinet reset was supposed to do that two weeks ago. Then we had the Dean French fiasco with the appointments and French’s resignation.

That was followed by a week of media looking at anyone that was appointed by the Ford government and may have walked by French on the street. I get it, there are likely other bad appointments but others are being hounded despite being qualified.

As that started to settle down we had the absolutely ridiculous outburst by MacLeod come to light. What is bizarre is that MacLeod’s outburst came on the same weekend where I and others pointed to the toxic outbursts that politicians and public figures too often have to deal with.

It wasn’t her finest moment, though knowing Ottawa and the feelings that many have towards Eugune Melnyk in the capital, I don’t think it will hurt her. The reality is that no one walked away from that story looking good.

And that includes Ford.

Which if you are a minister in the Ford government then you need to worried about that very fact. MacLeod is lucky she hasn’t been fired and if Ford hadn’t been dealing with other bigger issues of late, she might have been.

Truth is, Ford can’t afford anymore bloodletting in his government.

This has been a perplexing government to cover over the last few months, the last year really. They have been embroiled in controversy at every turn.

Some in the government would like to say that they are being hounded by a media that acts more like an opposition than a normal press gallery. At times I think there is some merit to that but that isn’t the whole story.

This is a government that can’t get out in front of a story because even when they have good news there is someone doing something stupid to distract from the good news.

Did you hear about the announcement of curriculum changes in Ontario last week? A series of changes that will put financial literacy and will offer varied career paths to high school students rather than just pushing everyone to university?

I don’t know anyone that thinks this was a bad move by the government but it wasn’t widely talked about.

It got some pick up but not as much attention as it should have.

The Ford government is making the changes that need to be made to put Ontario back on a solid footing.

This province has the largest sub-national debt in the world which is nothing short of shocking. That debt, driven by never ending deficits, was created by governments that couldn’t say no to any spending proposal.

Doug Ford was elected to right the books of this province and say no to outlandish spending. Despite my complaints about increased spending his government is moving, overall, in the right direction.

Yet as he looks at his poll numbers he needs to know that the drop in support for his agenda is as much about tone and style as it is about substance.

As Ford gets ready for his appearance in Calgary, his time in Saskatoon and his time between now and when the legislature resumes in late October, he’d be wise to heed the words of the immortal Nat King Cole.

Straighten Up and Fly Right.