Marie Henein is a lawyer and senior partner with Henein Hutchison.
I’m among friends, so I might as well say it: Isolation has a way of forcing you to reassess, well, just about everything.
I’ve avoided any semblance of a monastic life up until now. Isolation inevitably begets introspection, an unsettling prospect even when things are going well, and much less so in these precarious times. It throws you off your game. But try as I might to avoid this one thing, I cannot. So here it is: While my feelings have not risen to a state of unabashed fandom, the burbling of a begrudging acknowledgement cannot be denied. I am going to say it, plainly and simply: Ontario Premier Doug Ford is doing an admirable job of shepherding the province, all of us, through this crisis.
He has dealt with this emergency in a non-partisan fashion. To date, he has chosen to listen to science and to make decisions based on information and whatever evidence is available. He has spoken in an assured way. He stood up to the bully to the south, Donald Trump, when he proclaimed that stopping the shipment of much-needed medical supplies to Canada is not how a neighbour is expected to act. Understanding the pervasive anxiety, he reassured the youngest Ontarians that the Easter Bunny was an essential service. One cannot escape the feeling that there is an adult in the legislative house, and that alone provides some comfort.
It is uncomfortable for me to admit this. It is not easy to heap praise in his direction. There are things he has done that I have not agreed with – pre-pandemic policies that I think are just plain wrong. But right now, at this moment, Mr. Ford is showing himself to be a true leader. And for that, he deserves all Ontarians’ credit and support.
I’m not alone in the bewilderment I’m feeling at saying this out loud. For days, it’s been nagging at me. Late at night. When I was alone and trying to remember precisely what day it was while eating through another bag of Oreos, there it was, in the nether recesses of mind, niggling away. At first, I thought it was just a stomach-ache from all the junk food. But it just wouldn’t go away. I would be relieved when the sun rose and I could once again focus on what pair of sweatpants would serve as my business attire for the day.
After a few days, though, I couldn’t lie to myself anymore. I was ashamed of my feelings. I considered just not saying them out loud, so they would eventually quietly go away and no one would ever need to know about any of this. And then one day, while on a Zoom call with a friend of mine, I blurted it out: Ford is doing a damn good job.
There, I had said it. Out loud. My friend lowered his eyes, as though to avert his gaze from what I had just gone and done. But after a few moments of awkward silence between us, he looked up and quietly said: “Yeah, I’ve been thinking the same thing too.” And there it was.
The old saying goes, leaders are not born, they are made. These days, in Ontario, it is hard to deny that we seem to have one in the making.
Keep your Opinions sharp and informed. Get the Opinion newsletter. Sign up today.