Doug Ford credits kid named Arthur for decision on schools and people have questions
Viewers never know what they're going to get during Ontario premier Doug Ford's regular pandemic press conferences, which have over the last 14 months or so ranged from being completely uneventful to rife with new lockdown restrictions (or extensions) to, if we're lucky, very dad-like one-liners and a quirky personal anecdote or two.
The latter was the case on Wednesday, when Ford shared his encounter with a young neighbour named Arthur to help explain his team's decision to keep schools closed for the rest of the year, but permit outdoor graduation ceremonies for all students in the province.
Doug Ford spurns science table advice once again, chooses to follow little Arthur’s open air graduation policy for Ontario.— vilma (@hmvi) June 2, 2021
It was at the end of his briefing following the question period that Ford mentioned that he wanted to tell a story before he went off air for the day; a story that started with a random piece of personal correspondence delivered to his home from little Arthur, who is passionate about getting back into the classroom.
"I got a letter dropped off at my house and it's from a young gentleman named Arthur who lives a few blocks away. So I took it upon myself to hop in my pickup and drive over to the house," Ford said.
Upon his arrival, the premier said he was shown to the backyard — all while wearing a mask, he assured the press — where he got to meet and have a chat with Arthur and his family.
Some would say @Fordnation broke the state of emergency to meet "Arthur." But I'm calling the whole story as BS. Kory Teneyke pulled "Arthur" out of his ass just for this press conference.— Derek Raymaker 🇵🇸☮️ (@draymaker) June 2, 2021
"I sat and asked him, I said 'Arthur, this is the situation, I'm going to bring it to cabinet, but I'm really concerned about putting all the kids in the classroom. If there was a choice, do you want to go back to class or do you [want to go] to camp?"
Arthur chose class despite being signed up for camp this summer, but after some allegedly heavy negotiations, he and Ford came to an agreement, with the child saying he would be happy with an in-person graduation day for all students of all grades so they could see their friends before the academic year is out.
Though heartwarming, the tale was admittedly a bit peculiar, leaving many people making memes and joking about it on social media within minutes, often questioning its veracity.
Ford is indeed prone to such digressions during his pressers, and also to being swayed by constituents who share with him their personal experiences.
He is, by all appearances, a pretty emotional guy who feels for injured wildlife, gets visibly angry at those who blatantly flout lockdown restrictions and publicly cries over the devastation of COVID-19.
Health care workers, scientists, hair salons, restaurants owners, businesses, education workers etc, have been begging @fordnation and @Sflecce to listen to them but they decided to listen to the little neighbour boy #Arthur We’re in trouble folks!— Ropsy (@RopsJim) June 2, 2021
But he is also the guy who perhaps didn't impose firm enough lockdown restrictions in the first place, opened things up too quickly, and then kept them closed for far too long, some would argue, depending on their stance on the province's pandemic management and their expectations of a political leader in an unprecedented situation.
And as the figurehead for the provincial government, he is an easy target to dislike, disbelieve and poke fun at right now.
Perhaps in the coming days the public will get to have their minds eased about the tale of Arthur, as some already seem to be on the hunt for him and his story.
And regardless, at least students in the province have something to look forward to now: graduation ceremonies and, hopefully, as Ford said today, a great summer.
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