TORONTO — An angry Premier Doug Ford lashed out on Friday at anti-lockdown protesters outside his home, accusing them of intimidating nearby residents and saying their actions wouldn’t sway him.
His neighbours, Ford said in offering them a sincere apology for getting caught up in the situation, make no government decisions and never signed up to be targets.
“Stop acting like a bunch of buffoons out there and start respecting the people of Ontario,” Ford said at his daily briefing. “This is totally unacceptable that my neighbours are being intimidated, being threatened, and these people, they need to stop.”
Protesters opposed to measures aimed at curbing the lethal spread of COVID-19 have gathered outside the premier’s west-end Toronto home daily. Their actions, he said, are unacceptable.
“You want to protest me, come down to Queen’s Park,” Ford said. “You can do cartwheels, you can jump up and down.”
Ford took aim at Independent legislator Randy Hillier, who did lead an anti-mask and anti-lockdown rally at the legislature on Thursday. Police ticketed Hiller, whom Ford called irresponsible, for allegedly breaking health rules imposed to curb COVID.
Hillier’s supporters took to social media to denounce the citation and restrictions as unnecessary. Ford, however, said it’s unfathomable that some people believe coronavirus disease to be a hoax when in fact the virus is so serious.
“Look at the states to the south of us that want to ignore the regulations — they’re blowing up,” he said. “They have mobile morgues driving around in Texas collecting bodies. If that’s not a wake-up call, I don’t know what is.”
On Friday, Ontario reported a record 1,855 new infections, a 25 per cent surge in a day, and 20 new deaths. The province has now seen 109,361 cases, 3,575 of them fatal.
Ford defended the restrictions that have shut down many businesses and limited gatherings as public health authorities urged people to stay home except for essential reasons. The measures, he said, were proven effective earlier this year.
“The proof is in the pudding: When we did it last time, we were down to almost 100 cases, which is unheard of in a population of 14.77 million people.”
The protesters outside his house, Ford said, were special interest and political groups. Small business owners on his street and elsewhere in the neighbourhood were among those anti-lockdown protests end up hurting, he added.
Ultimately, Ford said, the protesters were violating the very tenets of political discourse.
“There’s an unwritten rule here in Canada: You don’t go after people’s families and neighbours,” he said. “You want to come at me, come at me, and leave my family and leave my neighbours alone.”