Highlights from Ford Fest 2018

By Sabrina Nanji September 24, 2018

Ontario Premier Doug Ford rallied thousands of supporters this weekend at Ford Fest, an annual barbecue that has been hosted at the Ford family home in Etobicoke (and occasionally in public parks in Etobicoke and Scarborough) for more than 20 years.

Saturday’s event took place at the Veneto Centre in Vaughan, with the PC Party footing the bill.

In a speech, Ford told the crowd he spent the day visiting two police officers that were shot in Burlington; he said “they’ll be OK.” He also said he would be visiting Ottawa Sunday to survey the damage caused by a tornado that struck the region.

He also took the opportunity to sound off a list of PC accomplishments, including among others the cancellation of cap-and-trade and renewable energy contracts, cuts to Toronto council, and buck-a-beer.

Ford took aim at the former Ontario Liberal premier as well as the current prime minister, which prompted “Boos!” and chants of “Lock her up!” and “Put them in jail!” from the crowd.

“Together we have taken Kathleen Wynne’s hands out of your pockets, and together we will get Justin Trudeau’s hands out of your pockets,” Ford said.

“He hit all the right notes, and he reinforced the reasons why we voted for him in the first place. The debt in particular hits a high note with people, or rather a low note,” said Stacey Dittman, who made the trek from Orangeville with her family.

Julz Adamson, of Innisfil, said it was her first Ford Fest. “I always liked the Fords, even when they were in Toronto [City Hall],” Adamson said. “I thought it would be great to come down and support who I like. I was hoping he’d go provincial — I think it’s good for our province. Now we need the PC Party in federal.”

Franka Terrance, 21, who does outreach for the PC caucus, noted the Ford family’s unique ability to draw big crowds. “They’re really engaged. The personality, they’re such people-people,” she said of the Ford political brand.

Samuel Lewkowicz called the Ford administration “a respite of sanity.” He added he didn’t mind waiting in a long line for a burger because “you get to be around your own peeps, so it’s fun.”

After the speech people lined up to take photos and meet the premier. That included white supremacist and far-right Toronto mayoral candidate Faith Goldy, which the NDP called “deeply chilling.”

“Anti-hate experts are calling on people not to legitimize the views of this neo-Nazi sympathizer, but Doug Ford posed for photos with her, lending what could be construed as an endorsement,” anti-racism critic Laura Mae Lindo said in a statement.