During Wednesday’s news conference, Ontario Premier Doug Ford told a story about a child named Arthur, whom he apparently met with to discuss the school reopening plan.
Just as Ford’s school announcement was supposed to wrap up, he paused the question-and-answer section to recount a tale about a French-language student who wrote him a letter and dropped it off at his house.
Ford apparently “hopped” in his truck and drove a few blocks to Arthur’s house for a visit, where the premier arrived unannounced and went into the family’s backyard, where they were having dinner.
There, the premier told Arthur his worries about sending kids back to class and driving up COVID-19 infections.
“If there was a choice, would you want to go back to class or go to camp?” Ford asked Arthur.
The child replied that he’d rather go back to class. But after some discussion, Arthur suggested to the premier that schools have outdoor graduation ceremonies in June before summer camps and other activities begin.
“He was a tough negotiator,” Ford said. “He’s going to be premier one day.”
On Wednesday, Ford announced schools will remain closed until September to avoid further spread of COVID-19. He added that schools can work with local health units to conduct outdoor graduation ceremonies.
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But several journalists, health experts, and others listening to the call questioned both the story’s authenticity and Ford’s judgement for listening to a child instead of policy experts — and for visiting the boy during a Stay-at-Home order.
During a stay-at-home order, Ontario’s Premier visited a student named Arthur in his backyard, to come up with a plan for schools.
Can we also ask Arthur to help us get more staff in LTC, vaccines to hotspots, and 10 employer funded permanent paid sick days?
— Dr. Amit Arya (@AmitAryaMD) June 2, 2021
Ah. the Premier says he visited an Ontario student who wrote to him, went into the backyard for a visit last night to have a spirited debate about schools.
This happened during the stay at home order. #onpoli
— Colin D’Mello CTVNews (@ColinDMello) June 2, 2021
I’d also like to point out if this Arthur story is actually true, Premier @FordNation admitted to breaking his own stay-at-home order, showing up to a stranger’s house uninvited, and then made a life-changing policy decision based off of that interaction. #onpoli #onted
— Tyler Watt 🇨🇦 (@tylerwatt90) June 2, 2021
Interesting that a student in one night could help Doug make a decision but we’ve had well over a year to make decisions to make schools safe and yet here we are. 🙄 #profitsbeforepeople
— Alicia (@Alicia_Lynn_) June 2, 2021
Ontario’s Premier just admitted his plan for schools was swayed by advice from a student named Arthur who randomly wrote to him.
Folks, this is what it has come to.
— Naheed Dosani (@NaheedD) June 2, 2021
Oh, and if Arthur or his family is reading this: several journalists want to speak with you.
Some days during the Rob Ford era, I felt like I was on drugs. Well, here we are again
— Bruce Arthur (@bruce_arthur) June 2, 2021