Trudeau and Ford's death embrace is a sign of political posturing to come

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support today for as little as $1 per month!

That was a bizarre, vast, cabinet shuffle at Queen's Park this week, since the only genuine problem was the unshuffled premier. How so?

Well, Monday's City Hall Raptors party became the de facto Liberal launch for October's federal election. It didn't start that way; it happened when Doug was booed and Justin, cheered. Justin will now go full DoFo till the vote. It's his best, maybe only, hope.

It probably shouldn't have happened. Doug, man of the people, champ of The Little Guy -- at a Raptors celebration? Those were his "folks." But Justin has horseshoes. It's like that boxing match he shouldn't have agreed to yet won. He may've been ready for boos too -- but they never came.

Meanwhile Doug can't buy a break. "What boggles my mind," he whines, "we're pouring money into autism." But he can't shake those parents' anger.

Students get a few dollars off tuition but lose thousands in loans. Now landlords get their biggest rent increase in years -- so there go tenants. He's cutting more health jobs -- after swearing there'd be no losses -- along with teachers, who like all pubic servants will get only tiny, sub-inflation raises, unlike landlords.

After a while, people notice he has only one trick: slashing. He halved Toronto's council, killed the money-raising carbon tax, cut tree planting, stem cell research, class sizes.

There was a heartbreaking story on high school courses cancelled. But school's all about your teachers. It's like being a kid: the point isn't having parents, it's the actual ones you have. There's so much, you can't recall everything but impressions linger, leaving a residual sense of disgust in your brainpan. Like his effort to have his cop pal named OPP boss. Or the ignominious standing O's required in Question Period.

Fall from grace? He never was in a state of grace, he just thought he was. People didn't want Doug, they wanted Wynne gone. There's no evidence his actual appeal is any greater than his nephew Mikey, who inherited the family seat on council. If things stay this bad, they might try subbing Mikey in.

And because this is Ontario, he's denied the central weapon of role models like Trump, Boris, or Orban: weaponizing whiteness against immigrants. Pauvre mec. It's as if he's fighting with one of his right hands tied behind his back.

Justin must thank God for Doug. What else has he got? He's the last neoliberal standing and he's not running on it, he's burdened by it. All that frantic dickering to renegotiate NAFTA and Trump makes an exquisite mockery of it by setting tariffs based on "national security." What was the bloody point?

The weirdest part of the Justin-DoFo death embrace is who gets left out: Andrew Scheer, in theory the Conservative running for PM, and Andrea Horwath, rumoured opposition leader in Ontario. They're like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in Hamlet. R and G were, if you don't recall, reported dead about halfway through the play. Maybe they can find a way to run against each other.

Scheer, who's incapable of not taking a nerdy picture -- if he weren't, we'd surely have one by now -- must want to distance himself. But this week's climate non-plan cemented him firmly to Doug, in a kind of Mikey role.

The mystery about Horwath is how DoFo works for Justin but not her. She was poised to take him out a year ago and more or less passed. She got 84 per cent support at last week's NDP convention, not a healthy sign. If her party were serious about power, there'd have been more dissension.

What's encouraging is that people seem to have made up their own minds on Doug, contrary to all the alarm about the majestic power of social media and algorithms in politics. Politicians say they keep hearing about Doug "at the door."

Why pay attention at the door if social media determine everything? Or are those mighty technologies still largely slapdash and guesswork, while people can still think and draw conclusions? Then the party pros discover that reality, and proclaim it online as if they created it. "These are miraculous days," PEI poet Milton Acorn wrote: "Worms sing!"

Things change in politics. But for this election, DoFo is Justin's gateway.

Image: Andrew Scheer/Flickr

Rick Salutin is a Canadian novelist, playwright and critic. He is a strong advocate of left wing causes and writes a regular column in the Toronto Star. This column originally appeared there.

Related Items

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable. has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.