Aug 25, 2019
Dean French left the Premier's Office at Queen's Park about two months ago and, by accident or design, the tone and approach of the Doug Ford government has shifted significantly. That tone was front and centre this past week at the annual AMO (Association of Municipalities of Ontario) meeting in Ottawa.
It wasn't a love-in by any stretch of the imagination. Local governments are still struggling with Queen's Park's decision to cut funding for municipal services including public health and child care. But, there was dialogue. The premier and his cabinet entertained some 600 meetings with municipal mayors, councillors and adminstrators during the AMO conference.
While the reception for Premier Ford may be described as cool, Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark got a rock star welcome. The local governments feel he's listening. And listening hasn't been a strong suit for this government so far.
It's also worth noting that this is the final week of the summer vacation for school kids and for all the predictions of an all out war with the teachers' unions, it would appear that Ontario students are going to head back to class without a lot of drama. It doesn't mean it won't be an issue as we move into the fall term, but for now, all's relatively quiet on the labour front.
None of that would have been even considered two months ago when Dean French ruled the roost as the premier's chief of staff.
It not only signals a change in tone, it signals a government that may have finally moved from campaign mode (a year after winning office) to governing mode.