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OPSEU stands down from Ford Fest protest, continues to fight Ford agenda

OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren 'Smokey' Thomas

Toronto – OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says OPSEU will not be picketing at Ford Fest this weekend, despite ongoing concerns about Doug Ford’s destructive agenda.

“We’re not backing down from our fight against Ford,” said Thomas. “We’ll continue to protest Ford’s fancy fundraisers and insider events. But Ford Fest is a chance for real people to have a hamburger and a conversation with Ford – we think the people might even talk some sense into him.”

Thomas also said he’s not one to kick someone while they’re down, after Premier Ford received a terrible reception at the Raptors’ celebratory parade this week.

“It’s never good when the premier of your province is so unpopular that he gets booed out of a celebration,” said Thomas. “I’m not at all surprised; a lot of Ford’s policies have hurt a lot of people. But I’m not one to kick him while he’s down, either.”

The union is also concerned for their members’ safety after visiting the site at the Markham Fairgrounds.

“We don’t want to put our members in harm’s way,” said OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida. “The police will try to provide a safe place for people to gather and to rally, but it won’t be easy. Even the police are worried about people’s safety.”

“It’s a bit ironic that there won’t be any booze at Ford Fest,” said Thomas. “Ford’s obsessed with tailgating parties and easy access to alcohol everywhere else in the province, but he doesn’t want the hassle at his own festival.”   

“Kudos to the York Regional Police for all their help and attention to fine details,” said Almeida. “But OPSEU’s going to encourage our members to attend Pride events this weekend instead.”

With rumours circulating that Earl Provost – senior adviser on former prime minister Paul Martin’s campaigns – will now be joining the premier’s office, Thomas hopes that Ford might finally be willing to listen to wiser counsel and change course entirely.

“We’ve heard that Provost is a problem solver and a thoughtful person,” said Thomas. “Maybe he can help to steer Ford off his destructive path. Maybe this is an indication of a change in attitude.

“We’re still waiting to meet with Ford and to talk about the serious issues facing working Ontarians and the public services they rely on,” said Thomas. “With Provost in his office, we’ll be reaching out once again. In the meantime, we’ll let them enjoy their hamburgers.”

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931