Ontario Premier Doug Ford is calling for a cooling of political rhetoric and for Canadians to work together despite difference after a divisive federal election.
The controversial premier — whose critics have accused him of using divisive rhetoric of his own — spoke with reporters in Ottawa on Friday following what he called a “phenomenal” meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in which he said the two leaders discussed pharmacare, transit and infrastructure along with the need for greater unity.
“It’s absolutely critical we unite the country and we stick together,” Ford said.
“I can’t emphasize it enough. We need to stick together and send the message to the rest of the world: we’re Canada and we’re ready to work together.”
The sit-down between the pair was the latest in a series of in-person talks Trudeau has had with provincial leaders after receiving a minority mandate last month.
Trudeau frequently warned voters during the federal election against Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer by trying to tie him to Ford, whose popularity tanked over the first year of his mandate after controversial vows to cut public services like autism support and increase class sizes.
Ford is also among a cohort of provincial premiers who have been aggressively opposing Trudeau’s carbon tax in court but who are now striking a more moderated tone in the wake of a federal election that rubbed raw deep tensions and alienation in Western Canada.
Ford told reporters that while he will continue to oppose the carbon tax, he will be focusing on moving forward on areas of joint interest in which his government can work together with Trudeau, including discussions about a potential universal pharmacare plan and transit funding.
“We agreed that we’re going to move forward and work together. There’s always going to be things we don’t agree on, and let’s work on the things we do agree on,” Ford said. “We have to send a message around the world that we’re a big family.”
Trudeau has already met with other leaders, including Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister.
— With files from the Canadian Press