POLITICS
05/09/2020 18:41 EDT | Updated 05/10/2020 13:50 EDT

Doug Ford Called 'Prime Minister,' Doesn't Deny Possibility

The Ontario premier didn't deny that he might aspire for the federal level in the future.

Richard Lautens/THE CANADIAN PRESS
Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Health Minister Christine Elliott and Environment Minister Jeff Yurek arrive for a daily COVID-19 press conference at Queen's Park on May 9, 2020.

Doug Ford has manoeuvred his political career from a Toronto city councillor to the premier of Ontario — and Ford isn’t ruling out that he might even turn his focus to the prime minister’s office eventually.

While taking questions as part of his daily COVID-19 briefing Saturday, Ford was referred to as ‘prime minister’ by French-language CBC reporter Camille Feireisen. 

“Hello, my question is for Prime Minister Ford ... ,” said Feireisen, before she was cut off by the premier.

“Not yet,” said Ford. “You just called me prime minister and I said ‘not yet.’”

Watch the exchange in the video below at the 25 minute mark.

Ford listened to the rest of Feireisen’s question, which was about about emergency funding for Ontario transit services during the pandemic, with a satisfied smile on his face. His response also seemed to inspire a grin out of cabinet ministers Christine Elliott and Jeff Yurek, who were standing behind him.

While Ford was quick to respond, Feireisen’s mislabelling might have been a case of mistranslation rather than an actual mistake. In French, ‘Ontario premier’ becomes “premier ministre de l’Ontario.”

This isn’t the premier’s first viral moment during the pandemic. Ford’s been front and centre with provincial updates on emergency measures to fight COVID-19, and he isn’t afraid to give his straight opinion on things.

When asked about protesters complaining about quarantine measures at a previous briefing, Ford called them a “bunch of yahoos.”

The comeback, like actual Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau’s quip on “speaking moistly,” went on to join Canada’s COVID-19 soundbite hall of fame.

Ford wasn’t spared from the remix-treatment, either, and the auto-tuned “Bunch of Yahoos” track featuring Trudeau has become something of a pandemic anthem.

Though his policies have garnered their fair share of criticism, if there’s anything that might convince Canada that Ford is prime minister material, it’s the profile he’s maintained during the pandemic.

Ford has drawn praise, even from his critics, for his calm and diplomatic tone.

During the crisis, Ford has often been seen sporting T-shirts commending front-line workers and has been extremely gracious during his briefings. He took a moment to thank Christopher Desloges, his sign-language interpreter and has even, to the surprise of many, thanked members of the press.

“You’re playing a massive role in helping us out,” he said about the media during his March 19 briefing

Ford’s transformation seems extreme given his divisive policies before the pandemic. His Progressive Conservative government targeted childcare services, education, legal aid and health care with funding cuts to address the province’s $11.7-billion deficit.

He changed his tone as the virus started to spread, introducing housing and job protection laws, even going as far as telling Ontarians to prioritize food over rent. Ford’s tumultuous relationship with city councillors, whose jobs he’s previously tried to cut as well, has also taken a turn for the better. 

“We put differences aside and we moved together because people expect that,” he told The Canadian Press.

With files from The Canadian Press

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