Ottawa’s mayor is dismissing any notion of tension between himself and Ontario Premier Doug Ford over the decision earlier this month to shut down some businesses in the nation’s capital and other COVID-19 hot spots to flatten the second wave of the pandemic.
Ford was asked Monday during his provincial COVID-19 update about how much say municipal officials have in pushing back on the decision to close gyms, theatres and indoor dining at restaurants as part of a modified Stage 2 restrictions in coronavirus hot spots such as Ottawa, Toronto and Peel Region.
He was asked about the topic in regards to a letter sent over the weekend by elected officials in the Halton region urging the premier not to impose similar restrictions in the area.
Ford said he always consults with elected officials before rolling back reopening measures in hard-hit regions, but was asked specifically about whether Watson pushed back on the decision, in regards to media reports suggesting he was against the call to force businesses to close.
In an interview with CTV News at the start of the Thanksgiving weekend, Watson said he had not seen any evidence that there had been superspreader events at restaurants, bars and gyms in Ottawa. He said it was a “disappointing day” for affected businesses but that the premier gave him a “heads up” about the closures the morning before they were announced.
Ford said Monday that Watson did not push back on the decision to impose modified Stage 2 restrictions in Ottawa.
“I talked to the mayor in Ottawa. I told him and he agreed,” Ford said, adding, “it was the right decision to be made.”
In a statement released later Monday afternoon, a spokesperson for the mayor said that Watson and Ford remain on the “same page” in relation to the reimposed restrictions.
“Although Mayor Watson did not advocate for the closure of restaurants and gyms in Ottawa, he understands the province’s decision, given the number of cases was increasing dramatically at the time,” the statement read.
The mayor’s office attributes any confusion to a resolution passed at city council on Oct. 14, calling on Watson to send a letter to the premier requesting a copy of the data that informed the decision to shut down businesses in Ottawa.
“Many small businesses are currently fighting to remain open, and the people of Ottawa deserve to know the reasons behind the restrictions being imposed at a local level,” the statement concluded.
Ford reiterated his support of Watson later in the press conference.
“I think the world of Mayor Watson, he’s doing a great job and we have a great relationship,” he said.