Doug Ford ended his campaign the same way he started it — a rally in the heart of Ford Nation.
The rally in his riding of Etobicoke-North remained calm, with only a very small handful of demonstrators outside the event protesting Ford’s record on health care.
Doug Ford, Leader of the Ontario PC Party, speaks during a rally at the Toronto Congress Centre in Etobicoke, Ont. on Wednesday June 1, 2022. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)
Ford spent his time going through his party’s trademark promises including the building of Highway 413, reducing the gas tax, and transit improvements, with Ford adding that his late brother Rob Ford, “is doing cartwheels right now hearing we're building a subway in Scarborough.”
Ford’s speech mainly stayed positive only mentioning one of his opponents, Ontario Liberal leader Steven Del Duca, once in relation to the “nasty Del Duca road tolls.”
Ford was seemingly referring to his government’s removal of tolls on Highways 412 and 418 in Durham. The pair of highways connecting Highway 401 to the Highway 407 eastern extension were built under the previous Liberal government.
Despite attacks from the Ontario Liberals, NDP, and Greens, Ford’s campaign has been relatively uneventful, with the PC leader, according to polling from Mainstreet Research, set to regain another majority government.
Ford has been criticized for his lack of media availability throughout the campaign compared to the other major parties. He spent the last few days of the campaign door-knocking and holding photo ops, but hasn’t held a media availability since Monday.
In response to a question about his lack of time with the media, Ford said at a campaign stop in Kitchener earlier last month that “none of the parties have clocked more miles than I have.”
He also touted his “great relationship” with the press at another stop last week in Brampton adding that, “the media has been very, very fair. They’ve been fair throughout the pandemic, they’ve been fair now.”
The other major party leaders have also taken aim at Ford about the amount of time he spends with the media.
Earlier in the campaign, NDP leader Andrea Horwath expressed confusion as to why Ford didn’t take questions from the media following the first party leaders’ debate in northern Ontario.
“It’s an election, it’s the time for people to question their leaders to understand what motivates them and what their priorities are. Any time to connect with people should be taken by leaders,” Horwath said during a scrum following the debate.
Del Duca went even harder at Ford calling his avoidance of the media a “slap in the face” adding that it, “shows complete disregard for democracy.”
While he has taken aim at Ford over his media appearances, Del Duca faced criticism Wednesday morning for holding a “media availability” at a stop in the riding of Humber River—Black Creek only for it to abruptly end after his remarks without the chance for the media to ask questions. The move was an unusual one for the leader who has allowed reporters throughout the campaign to ask more than the customary two questions like the NDP and PCs.
Journalists were allowed to ask questions at the party’s second campaign stop later that day, though there was no livestream of that event, unlike the party’s morning media availability.
Horwath seemed to have made a dig at Del Duca during her media availability that occurred shortly after the Liberals’ where she said, “Because I did say this is a media availability, I’m now available for questions from the media.”
Doug Ford wasn’t the only prominent PC candidate at the Wednesday night rally. Several members of Ford’s cabinet who are now running for re-election also were in attendance.
They included PC candidates Paul Calandra who is running in Markham—Stouffville, Caroline Mulroney who is running in York—Simcoe, Prabmeet Sarkaria who is running in Brampton South, and Kinga Surma who is running in Etobicoke Centre.
The party will be returning to the Toronto Congress Centre today for its election party.