Under fire for “insensitive” and “hurtful” comments about the new Canadians, an unrepentant premier Doug Ford insists he is “pro-immigration” and has no plans to apologize.
Ford told the legislature on Tuesday that his phone has been “exploding” with messages “from new Canadian immigrants who came here, the first generation,” sharing his success stories.
“I have been in favor of immigration from day one. We are short 290,000 people. Ours was the only government that wrote letter after letter to the prime minister saying we need more people, ”the prime minister said.
“All you have to do is come to a Ford Fest. You will see the support of people from all over the world who come there, ”he said, referring to the free public picnics his family has organized for many years.
“I’ll tell you how the Ford Nation was created: they came to this country, they couldn’t reach any NDPs or liberal leaders, but they did reach out to the mayor of Toronto (the late Rob Ford) and the prime minister,” Ford said.
“We show up at your door. We return your calls. “
But on Monday, the prime minister’s clumsy call for immigrants to come to Ontario to ease the labor shortage fell through during a campaign-style stop near Windsor.
“Do you know what our biggest problem is right now? We need people, ”Ford said.
“So folks, if you have hard-working people, I only have one criterion: you come here like every other new Canadian has come here. Work until the end, ”he said.
Then the prime minister sounded a warning: “Do you think you are going to come and collect the subsidy and sit down? It won’t happen, go elsewhere. You want to work? Come here, we have a lot of work. “
NDP MPP Doly Begum (Scarborough Southwest) described Ford’s comments as “insensitive, discriminatory, dismissive and offensive towards thousands of immigrants who came to Ontario in search of a better future, many of whom have helped build this province.
“Her words undermine the uphill battle immigrants face when they come to this country, like the struggles my family faced when they came here hoping for a better life,” said Begum, whose family moved to Canada from Bangladesh when she it was a child.
“His words undermine the thousands of new Canadians who have helped Ontario over the past year and a half.”
Liberal leader Steven Del Duca, the son of a Scottish mother and an Italian father, said he was not surprised that Ford was “bending down” and “showing a degree of stubbornness that does not help modern leadership.”
“You should reconsider. You should do the right thing. I urge you to apologize. It doesn’t show weakness to apologize when a mistake is made, it actually shows strength, ”Del Duca said.
“It was incredibly painful for many Ontarians. It shows a very old-fashioned notion of the value of immigrants ”.
Green leader Mike Schreiner, who was born in the United States and moved to Canada when he was 26, said he “has no idea what the prime minister was thinking.”
“I hope it’s not some kind of dog whistle for certain elements of your base,” Schreiner said.
“If the prime minister really wanted to attract more immigrants to Ontario, he would retract his comments yesterday (and) unequivocally apologize to reinforce the message that Ontario is a welcoming place for immigrants.”
JOIN THE CONVERSATION