Ontario Premier Doug Ford refuses to apologize for comments about immigration
TORONTO -- Ontario Premier Doug Ford refused to apologize for comments he made about immigrants coming to the province “to collect the dole,” instead saying that he is “pro immigration.”
Speaking to reporters in Tecumseh, Ont. on Monday, Ford said there was a labour shortage in the province and urged people to come to Ontario to work.
“We’re in such desperate need of people from around the world,” he said.
But then the premier specified that he only wanted “hard-working” people to come to Ontario.
“You come here like every other new Canadian. You work your tail off," Ford said. "If you think you're coming to collect the dole and sit around, it’s not going to happen. Go somewhere else.”
‘Collecting the dole’ is a term used in some countries to refer to receiving unemployment benefits.
Shortly after the comments were made, some Ontario politicians spoke out and demanded Ford apologize for the “divisive” remarks.
“A premier is supposed to unite Ontarians, not wedge us further apart,” Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca said on Twitter. “As a son of immigrants, I know first-hand how people like my parents helped to build Ontario. Doug Ford should apologize for his callous comments.”
Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the comments echoed “demeaning stereotypes” associated with immigrants while Ontario Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner said that to suggest newcomers are not hard workers “is inexcusable.”
While in Question Period on Tuesday, Ford was asked by the NDP to apologize for the “discriminatory” comments. He did not do so and instead used the opportunity to say he is “pro immigration.”
“I have been pro immigration from day one,” he said. “We are short 290,000 people. I was the only government who wrote letter after letter to the prime minister saying we need more people.”
“All you have to do is come to a ‘Ford Fest’ and you’ll see the support from people around the world,” he added.
Earlier in the day, Ontario’s health minister said that she did not think Ford had to apologize for the comments.
“I don’t think it’s necessary because what the premier was actually saying is that we need more immigrants in Ontario. We have lots of work,” she said at a news conference. “We know that when people come here they do work hard, they provide for themselves and their families, they contribute largely to our communities and we need more people in Ontario. That’s what the premier was indicating yesterday.”
Elliott emphasized that the premier was not saying that immigrants are not hard workers, but rather “his expectation is when people come here that they will work and we know they are working.”
‘IT WAS A VERY OUTDATED AND TIRED THING TO SAY’
Speaking after Question Period, Horwath said that Ford’s response proves the premier has “some pretty distasteful and inappropriate values and beliefs about immigrants.”
"What he is doing is showing stereotypes of immigrants that create dislike, that create division, that create a situation where people assume that what the premier says is correct and it is not correct,” Horwath told reporters.
“He can parse his words all he wants but a premier that speaks with such ignorance about who it is that built our entire province. We are a province and country of immigrants."
Del Duca, meanwhile, said that he wants to give Ford the benefit of the doubt, saying that “at the very least the language was poorly chosen.”
"I think what he said was incredibly hurtful to lots of Ontarians. I think at the very least it shows a very outdated notion of the value of immigration,” he said. "It was a very outdated and tired thing to say so I hope he apologizes and we can move on."