Several of Doug Ford's key pandemic decisions were swayed by business interests, Star analysis suggests - 2021-07-15
On Nov. 23, 2020, with Ontario still climbing the face of a devastating second wave, a tired-looking Doug Ford appeared before the media for his then daily press conference. The premier looked ashen and sounded worse. His voice barely projected, like someone had set his volume too low.
That week, Ford had imposed a new set of restrictions in Toronto and Peel Region barring most retailers from selling anything in store, just as the lucrative Christmas season was kicking off. The shutdowns were aimed at curbing the pandemic's runaway swell in the province. New cases per day, which had fallen into the thirties in August, had exploded past 1,500 in early November. They would eventually peak at more than 4,000 per day, leading to thousands of deaths public health experts said then and still believe now were preventable with stronger action.
But for small business owners, the new restrictions landed like a second stone on Atlas's back. For Catherine Choi, who co-owns Hanji Gifts, a small chain in Toronto, the announcement was devastating, even if she understood why it was necessary. "At Christmas, our stores are normally packed," she said. "It's a gift store. Obviously Christmas is our most important time of year."