Premier Doug Ford visited his Muskoka cottage on Easter Sunday, after asking his fellow Ontario cottage owners to stay at home over Easter weekend and the May long weekend in an effort to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Ivana Yelich, a spokesperson for Ford’s office, confirmed with the CBC on Friday that on the morning of April 12, the premier drove alone to his family property up north “to check on the plumbing” as the property is under construction.
“He spent less than an hour there and on his travel, he didn’t stop anywhere and he didn’t interact with anyone,” Yelich added.
Here’s premier @fordnation’s full response after revelations he visited his cottage during Easter long weekend, even after asking Ontarians not to. He says it was his first morning off in 2 months, he headed up north to check his plumbing for an hour, and was back home by noon: pic.twitter.com/X5D9idKSnr
— Tina Yazdani (@TinaYazdani) May 8, 2020
Days before, during Ford’s April 8 press conference, the premier asked Ontario residents to avoid visiting their cottages during Easter weekend due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting strain visitors could put on rural healthcare systems.
Even if Ford was simply checking on the pipes, social media is calling the act out as hypocritical:
He’s so entitled – he’s forgotten it’s not all about what’s “fair” for those who pay big taxes because they own cottages. God forbid they might have to “suffer” and delay their cottage time, vs. go and risk spreading a deadly virus in small towns with minimal health resources. 🤷♀️
— Kelly Caldwell (@kcaldwell) May 8, 2020
— junkyard rich (@JunkyardRich) May 8, 2020
Earlier this week, Ford said that he couldn’t hold taxpayers back from going to their cottages indefinitely and that he didn’t see a massive issue in some doing so for the Victoria Day weekend, as long as people brought their own supplies. However, in an updated statement on Thursday, the premier said that Ontarians need to stay vigilant and continue to avoid non-essential travel.
“I know Ontarians are eager to enjoy the great outdoors, but there will be plenty of long weekends to come,” Ford said, after speaking with cottage country mayors. “Right now, we need to focus on doing everything we can to protect the health and safety of all Ontarians. We’re all in this together and together we will beat COVID-19.”
Ford added that although cottage country residents are known for their hospitality, this year, they are asking visitors to help them fight the spread of COVID-19 and hold-off visiting these regions until it is safe to do so.
“We are still battling a terrible virus, so we are asking seasonal residents travelling to their cottages to practice the same public health measures as usual, including no public gatherings, avoiding non-essential travel as much as possible, and continue to practice social distancing,” Ford said.