VERNER, Ont. — Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Tuesday he is too busy governing to campaign with federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, as one of a suite of Tory premiers to so far decline to appear on the trail.
Scheer has now campaigned in three provinces — Ontario, Alberta and Manitoba — that have conservative premiers. None has appeared with him.
Ford, Scheer, Manitoba's Brian Pallister, Alberta's Jason Kenney and Saskatchewan's Scott Moe all appeared together last year on a cover of Maclean's magazine, labelled "The Resistance." The leaders all oppose the federal carbon tax and have been fighting it through court challenges and campaigns.
But several of those leaders have since said they won't be stumping for Scheer in this election. Scheer declined to read anything into that when asked about it recently.
"The people in that photograph — premiers of provinces where the carbon tax has been imposed — we have all been very clear that we are going to work hard to fight back against the carbon tax," he said.
"The good news is that on Oct. 21, those premiers, the premiers of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, will not have to fight the carbon tax, because Job 1 of a Conservative government is going to be to cancel the carbon tax."
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has campaigned in one Liberal-held province, making a brief announcement in St. John's, N.L., Tuesday morning without Premier Dwight Ball. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh hasn't yet campaigned in British Columbia, the one province governed by New Democrats. But neither Trudeau nor Singh has had as much explicit support from current premiers as Scheer has.
Kenney has made no secret that he intends to campaign hard to help get Scheer elected, but the others are staying away. Kenney even has plans to do so in Ontario, making Ford's absence from the Scheer campaign effort more noticeable. Scheer has even campaigned in the west-Toronto area of Etobicoke, which is Ford's home community, without the premier.
When asked Tuesday if Scheer's campaign had contacted him, Ford said he "can't say they have."
"I'm busy governing," Ford said at a rural expo in northern Ontario. "It's a full-time job. I always joke around, they're working me like a rented mule this whole summer. Honestly, I just haven't had time. I don't want to interfere in the federal election. I want them to go out there and have a good race and let the best party win."
Since Ford's election last year his popularity has fallen, particularly after a spring budget that was rife with cuts. Trudeau has often tried to bind Scheer to Ford, suggesting that Ford's governing in Ontario is indicative of what a Scheer government would look like.
Scheer, meanwhile, does not use Ford's name when directly asked about the premier, preferring instead to criticize the former Ontario Liberal government. But he denies making any attempt to distance himself from Ford.
Moe has reportedly said he will not endorse anyone in this election.
The Canadian Press