#onpoli newsletter - Fedeli and Ford: Friends forever?

Revisiting some earlier episodes of our Ontario politics podcast
By Eric Bombicino - Published on July 2, 2019
Man typing on a computer at a desk.
Steve Paikin working away in his office.



Hello, #onpoli people,

Over the summer, we’ll be revisiting some of our earlier episodes of the podcast in this newsletter. In the first half of the season, we featured Steve Paikin’s candid one-on-one interviews with MPPs.

Unlike what we might have done for an Agenda segment, we didn’t go into them with a mapped-out plan. No heavily researched questions on policy issues, no packet of relevant statistics, no script. We went into these interviews with no plan other than to get to know who Ontario’s representatives are as people, and why they got into politics in the first place.

We wanted to hear their stories, and we wanted those stories to unfold as organically as possible.

As a producer, this is a terrifying concept. Showing up to Queen’s Park with no questions prepared felt like stepping into a hockey rink with no stick or skates.

But the plan worked. Personally, I had never produced an interview with a sitting politician where they were as honest, real, and candid as with this batch of interviews.

Man types at computer while sitting at desk.

“What I love about the podcast,” Steve told me as I jammed a recorder in his face in between tapings at The Agenda, “is the chance to have these kinds of really in-depth, non-policy-related conversations that really get at the underlying motives for why they do what they do.”

The first MPP interview we published back in April was with then-Minister of Finance Vic Fedeli. He was removed from that post in a cabinet shuffle in June, but remained in cabinet as Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation, and Trade.

Here’s some of the feedback we got from listeners.

Say what?

We received two tweets from users who probably didn’t exactly agree with Fedeli politically, but came out of the interview with a different view of him as a person.

Twitter post that says "The Steve Paikin interview of Finance Minister Vict Fedeli on the #onpoli podcast is an eye-opening and telling look into the type of person he is and what informs his views and ways/style of governing."

Twitter post that says "I subscribed to TVO's #onpoli podcast and listened to Steve Paikin interview Vic Fedeli, the person. I had to admit to myself, the guy wasn't the malicious lower-income loathing fat cat I'd imagined (wanted) him to be. This is what thought does: it constructs such narratives.

And David Sun Lee had two interesting take-aways from the wide-ranging interview.

Twitter post that says "That Vic Fedeli interview on TVO had a couple of takeaways for me. 1) He uses a naturopath. 20 Him and Ford like to joke around while they should be listening to debates.

They do it for the LOLz

In this interview Fedeli spoke candidly about his deep friendship with Premier Doug Ford.

“Oh my gosh, we have a lot of fun. Our humour gets us into trouble all the time, because I’ll end up cracking him up or he’ll end up cracking me up. Unfortunately, it may be a tense moment in the legislature and we’re having a little chuckle. And it doesn’t come off properly…there may be a debate of some sort going on and I’m telling him a funny story about something, and I’ll make him laugh, and somebody in the NDP will inevitably say, ‘that’s not funny!’”

What do you think? Should question period be sombre and serious, or a place for a little levity and laughter? And: will Fedeli and Ford be seen laughing together when the legislature is back in session in the fall?

Ford did remove Fedeli after less than a year at the helm of the Ministry of Finance. (He was nine days shy of a year, for those keeping score at home.) But during the cabinet shuffle announcement on June 20, Ford did praise Fedeli, telling reporters he “did an incredible job as finance minister.”

It’s B-A-N-A-N-A-S

In last week’s mailbag episode, we featured some clips of Steve singing between takes throughout the season. One of those clips, when it happened, was nothing short of shocking for everyone in the room.

It wasn’t that Steve was singing. The man loves to sing. Constantly. It’s what he was singing.

“I ain’t no hollaback girrrrrl. I ain’t no hollaback girrrrl.” Steve can really belt it.

Yes, he was singing the 2000s-era Gwen Stefani classic. Steve’s musical tastes usually stop around the year 1957, and usually only include songs by people named either Frank or Sinatra. This, needless to say, was a surprise for us, an unexpected twist right up there with the end of Usual Suspects or The Sixth Sense. We’re not sure what was happening or why it was happening, but we decided to roll with it. And now we need your help!

If you would like to be part of the #onpoli team’s extremely important initiative to bring Steve’s music catalogue into this millennium, tweet him at @spaikin or email the whole team at onpolitics@tvo.org with any song suggestions.

Please help us continue Steve’s modern musical education.

That’s all for this week.


#onpoli producer

P.S. How much do you know about TVO? Like, really know about us? Yes, we love Polkaroo, too, but there’s so much more to what we do. And did you know that as a registered non-profit charity, our work is largely funded by donors? If you like what you get from TVO, think about being part of our growing family of donors. And thanks, as always, for valuing smart journalism about what Ontarians need to know. We do, too!

How we do what we do

TVO is funded as a public agency by the government of Ontario. But when we do something new, like the #onpoli podcast and this newsletter, we often rely on generous donors like you to get it off the ground.

If you like what we're doing with #onpoli, please make a donation to keep it going. We'd like to feature the donors who make our work possible on future episodes of the podcast. So, if you make a donation, please write to us and let us know what you like about #onpoli at onpolitics@tvo.org.

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