Where has Doug Ford been during the Ottawa emergencies? Elsewhere

With about a week to go until Election Day, Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford was set to make his first – and arguably only – campaign stop in Ottawa on Thursday.

But after a devastating storm swept through the capital and surrounding areas of eastern Ontario, Ford’s trip to Ottawa was canceled. One of his campaign insiders told CBC News that the focus should be on letting hydroelectric workers focus on reconnecting the 74,000 residents who are still without power.

But if Ford was concerned about causing a distraction, why did he visit the storm-ravaged town of Uxbridge — located in the riding school of Peter Bethlenfalvy, who served as Ford’s Chancellor of the Exchequer — on Monday? And why wasn’t Ford too worried about coming to Ottawa on September 21, 2019? two days after Ottawa was hit by multiple tornadoesto see the damage?

Now it looks like Ford is coming to Ottawa on Monday, just three days before voters choose their next provincial government.

It’s not the first emergency in Ottawa that Ford has missed. He was criticized by some for do not intervene earlier during the truck protests who occupied the capital for three weeks in February, although he did declare a state of emergency and call the protests “illegal”.

But he wasn’t in Ottawa at the time. And during the second weekend of those street protests, that some called a “revolt”, Ford was at his cottage and was photographed on a snowmobile.

Those absences haven’t gone unnoticed — most notably Liberal leader Steven Del Duca, who slammed Ford on his three trips to the Ottawa region, telling voters it’s a leader’s job to “show up.” ‘. And reminding them that he himself was visiting during the protests in February.

NDP leader Andrea Horwath invaded on March 4, shortly after the protests ended, call on the province to give more than the $10 million it promised to companies affected by the protests. And she’s been to Ottawa once since the election was called.

Ford, meanwhile, visited Ottawa on March 25 — weeks after the protests ended — to announce the next phase of funding for a new campus of The Ottawa Hospital.

City leaders say no reason Ford couldn’t come

Whether Del Duca’s message about showing up resonates with voters — whether they see it as election campaigning — remains to be seen. But Ford seems to be falling into the Liberal leader’s script.

Ontario Liberal leader Steven Del Duca, seen here at a campaign event in Ottawa earlier this month, has repeatedly said the people of the city deserve a prime minister who “pops up.” (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

There doesn’t seem to be any practical reason why Ford couldn’t have toured Ottawa the next day or two. Asked at a Tuesday news conference whether anyone has stopped Ford and his entourage from visiting Ottawa, city leaders said no.

Mayor Jim Watson said he had heard from the three main party leaders since the storm hit on Saturday, saying Ford “has indicated what help the county can provide, he would be there to make sure that happens.”

The city has requested heavy equipment to help clear trees from the site more quickly, but there was no word yet on when the machines would arrive.

As for whether anyone dealing with the storm’s aftermath has asked Ford to delay his planned campaign shutdown, the mayor said no such request had been made.

Little political gain for Ford in Ottawa?

On a purely political level, it’s no big surprise that Ford doesn’t spend much time in eastern Ontario. The seats the PCs occupy on the outskirts of Ottawa and in the rural areas outside the city are considered quite safe.

The PCs got a seat in Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, which had been liberal for twenty years. But the MPP left months later the party’s francophone policy and optionally joined the liberals, who are expected to retain the seat. Del Duca drove the flag east of Ottawa on Monday, while Ford waved his in Uxbridge.

The one in the game for the PCs is Ottawa West Nepean, which experts call a race to watch. It has traditionally been in the hands of liberals, but in 2018 the party’s mood collapsed and many switched their votes to the NDP candidate who ultimately lost to the PC candidate by just 175 votes.

Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath, second from right, met residents and the candidate on the Ottawa West Nepean driving guard last week. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

The leaders of the Liberals and the NDP are still fighting for it. Del Duca has been to the equestrian center twice, including on the first weekend of the campaignand Horwath had two events there last week.

So Ford seems to be rejecting Ottawa because he’s confident the PCs can win — or write it off?

It’s hard to know.

Row-level polling is not too reliable because the sample size is usually too small and the margins of error too large.

Perhaps a trek to eastern Ontario takes too much time to support what would be just a single seat?

After all, the seats that the PCs must retain to secure a majority government are usually located in the suburbs of Toronto and surrounding areas.

And while it hasn’t been made public what Ford is doing during the day on Thursday, he won’t be visiting people in eastern Ontario in the evenings — instead, he’ll take center stage at a rally in Hamilton’s PC-NDP battlefield.

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