Transcript: Rebuilding Ontario's Liberal Party During COVID-19 | Apr 26, 2021

Steve sits in a room with white walls, a low slanted ceiling and several framed pictures on the walls including one of George Drew and one of Walter Kronkite. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a blue shirt and a striped blue tie.

A caption on screen reads "Rebuilding Ontario's Liberal Party amid COVID-19. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says A LITTLE OVER A YEAR AGO, STEVEN DEL DUCA WON THE ONTARIO LIBERAL LEADERSHIP ON THE FIRST BALLOT AT WHAT WAS NICKNAMED "THE CORONA CONVENTION" BECAUSE COVID-19 HAD JUST STRUCK. IN THAT YEAR, DEL DUCA HAS HAD TO RETIRE THE LIBERALS' MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR DEBT, FIND MORE NEW CANDIDATES THAN ANY PREVIOUS LIBERAL LEADER EVER, COME UP WITH SOME POLICY IDEAS THAT MIGHT GET THE LIBERALS TO REBOUND FROM THEIR WORST SHOWING IN HISTORY, IN THE LAST ELECTION... AND DO IT ALL ONLINE FROM HIS DINING ROOM TABLE, AS WE'VE BEEN UNDER STAY-AT-HOME ORDERS. HOW'S ALL THAT GOING? LET'S FIND OUT. HERE'S LIBERAL LEADER STEVEN DEL DUCA, WHO JOINS US NOW FROM VAUGHAN, ONTARIO.

Del Duca is in his late forties, clean-shaven and bald. He's wearing glasses, a gray suit and shirt, and a striped red tie.

Steve continues IT'S GOOD TO HAVE YOU ON TVO AGAIN. HOW ARE YOU MANAGING TODAY?

Del Duca says WELL, IT'S GREAT TO BE ON WITH YOU. I APPRECIATE THE OPPORTUNITY AND I'M DOING OKAY TODAY.

Steve says GOOD. AS WE SUGGESTED IN THE INTRO, MR. DEL DUCA, YOU'VE HAD... I DON'T KNOW WHAT ELSE TO CALL IT OTHER THAN THE WORST TO-DO LIST OF ANY LIBERAL LEADER IN HISTORY, AN ENORMOUS JOB BRINGING YOUR PARTY BACK FROM THE WORST SHOWING IT'S EVER HAD IN HISTORY. DO YOU EVER HAVE DAYS WHEN YOU WONDER, WHY DID I WANT THIS JOB IN THE FIRST PLACE?

The caption changes to "Steven Del Duca. Liberal Leader."

Del Duca says NO, LISTEN, IT'S, AS YOU KNOW, I'VE BEEN INVOLVED IN GOVERNMENT, IN POLITICS, FOR A GOOD CHUNK OF MY LIFE. AND HAVING THE CHANCE TO WIN THE ONTARIO LIBERAL PARTY LEADERSHIP HAS BEEN THE HONOUR OF MY LIFETIME. THERE IS A LOT OF WORK TO DO, LET'S BE REALLY CLEAR ABOUT THAT. WE'VE GOTTEN A LOT ACCOMPLISHED OVER THE LAST YEAR, BUT WE STILL HAVE A LOT TO DO. IT'S BEEN A STRUGGLE THIS YEAR FOR EVERYBODY ACROSS ONTARIO. I'M NOT EXCLUDED FROM THAT LIST. BUT I LOVE THIS WORK. I LOVE MY PROVINCE. AND I WANT US TO DO BETTER.

Steve says NOW, BECAUSE YOU DON'T HAVE 12 SEATS AT QUEEN'S PARK, YOU'RE NOT WHAT'S CALLED AN OFFICIALLY CONSTITUTED PARTY, WHICH MEANS YOU MISS OUT ON LITERALLY MILLIONS OF DOLLARS OF FUNDING THAT COULD GO TOWARDS HIRING MORE STAFF, DOING MORE RESEARCH, ET CETERA, ET CETERA. HOW MUCH DO YOU THINK THAT HAS HANDICAPPED YOUR EFFORTS OVER THE PAST YEAR?

Del Duca says WELL, THERE HAVE BEEN MOMENTS WHEN IT'S REALLY BEEN NOTICEABLE, ESPECIALLY AROUND THINGS LIKE RESEARCH AND HAVING... YOU KNOW, A CERTAIN NUMBER OF QUESTIONS IN THE LEGISLATURE, EARLIER ON IN PARTICULAR. BUT I'VE GOT TO TELL YOU, STEVE. BETWEEN OUR CAUCUS AND THE STAFF THAT WE DO HAVE AND THE THOUSANDS OF VOLUNTEERS THAT COMPRISE OUR PARTY IN EVERY CORNER OF ONTARIO, I THINK WE'VE DONE REMARKABLY WELL. WE'VE BEEN REALLY, REALLY RESILIENT. WE'VE TRANSITIONED TO THIS NEW REALITY. AND WE'RE MAKING SOME VERY NOTICEABLE PROGRESS. BUT, AGAIN, WE HAVE A LOT OF WORK STILL TO DO. THERE'S NO DOUBT ABOUT THAT.

Steve says THIS IS NOT MEANT TO BE A QUESTION TO TRIP YOU UP, BUT I DO HEAR IT OUT THERE... SO THAT'S WHY I WANT TO PUT IT TO YOU. HOW IMPORTANT DO YOU THINK PERSONAL CHARISMA IS TO A LEADER'S ABILITY TO LEAD?

The caption changes to "Steven Del Duca, @StevenDelDuca."

Del Duca says YOU KNOW, I THINK THAT'S ONE OF THE INGREDIENTS THAT PEOPLE DO WANT TO SEE IN THEIR LEADER, THERE'S NO DOUBT ABOUT THAT. BUT I THINK THE FAR MORE IMPORTANT, I GUESS, CURRENCY, IF I CAN PUT IT THAT WAY, ESPECIALLY IN THE MOMENT THAT WE SEE RIGHT NOW IN THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO, IS COMPETENCE. I THINK THE PEOPLE OF ONTARIO WANT TO KNOW THAT THE NEXT PREMIER, THE NEXT LEADER, THE NEXT INDIVIDUAL THAT THEY ARE GOING TO HAVE TO WORK WITH IN ORDER TO REALLY CREATE AN INCREDIBLE FUTURE FOR EVERYBODY WHO CALLS THIS PROVINCE HOME, IS SOMEBODY WHO UNDERSTANDS THE JOB THAT NEEDS TO BE DONE. AND SOMEONE WHO ACCEPTS THE REAL RESPONSIBILITY OF BEING PREMIER AND BEING LEADER. AND I BELIEVE I HAVE THAT IN SPADES.

Steve says YOU KNOW, DOUG FORD, FOR ALL OF HIS FAULTS, I HAVE HEARD PEOPLE SAY THAT HE HAS A PARTICULAR KIND OF CHARISMA THAT DOES CONNECT WITH PEOPLE, PARTICULARLY PEOPLE WHO ARE ON THE POPULIST SIDE OF POLITICS. WOULD YOU GRANT THAT YOU DON'T HAVE THAT?

Del Duca laughs, then says LOOK... I'M THE LAST PERSON THAT SHOULD BE JUDGING WHETHER OR NOT, YOU KNOW, I HAVE... WHAT BRAND OF CHARISMA I MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE. YOU KNOW, YOU MIGHT HAVE REMEMBERED AT THE LEADERSHIP CONVENTION IN MARCH OF LAST YEAR IN MY CONVENTION SPEECH I TALKED ABOUT THE GRADE 3 SPEECH THAT I GAVE IN FRONT OF MY ENTIRE SCHOOL, AND THE SUBJECT OF THAT SPEECH WAS RESPONSIBILITY. AND I ACTUALLY WON THE SPEECH CONTEST. SO YOU MIGHT RECALL, STEVE, THE LINE I USED AT THE CONVENTION WAS, AS YOU CAN SEE, I'VE BEEN WORKING ON MY CHARISMA FOR A VERY LONG TIME. I GOT A FEW LAUGHS IN THE AUDITORIUM. BUT, AGAIN, WHEN I THINK ABOUT ALL THE ISSUES THAT MATTER MOST TO ME AS A DAD, AS A HUSBAND, AS A SON, AS A BROTHER, SO I'M TALKING ABOUT PUBLICLY FUNDED EDUCATION, UNIVERSAL PUBLIC HEALTH CARE, THE FIGHT AGAINST THE CLIMATE CRISIS, ECONOMIC DIGNITY AND SO MUCH MORE... I WANT A LEADER, AND I BELIEVE THIS PROVINCE WANTS A LEADER, WHO KNOWS HOW TO GET THE JOB DONE. AND I DON'T THINK WE HAVE THAT RIGHT NOW, AND I BELIEVE I BRING THOSE SKILLS TO THE TABLE.

Steve says WHEN YOU WON YOUR PARTY'S LEADERSHIP A LITTLE OVER A YEAR AGO, YOU DID MAKE SOME PROMISES TO PARTY MEMBERS, AND THEREFORE TO ONTARIANS A WHOLE, AS TO HOW YOU WOULD CONDUCT YOURSELF AS LEADER. AND ONE OF THE THINGS THAT YOU PROMISED TO DO, FOR EXAMPLE, WAS TO HAVE 30 CANDIDATES IN THE NEXT ELECTION, WHICH IS IN JUNE 2022, WHO WOULD BE UNDER THE AGE OF 30. HOW WELL ARE YOU DOING AT FULFILLING THAT?

Del Duca says SO WE HAVE FIVE CANDIDATES UNDER THE AGE OF 30 OUT OF THE 34 THAT WE'VE NOMINATED SO FAR. SOME OF THE OTHER COMMITMENTS THAT I MADE WAS THAT 50 percent OF OUR CANDIDATES WOULD BE FEMALE. AS OF TODAY WE'RE AT I THINK 62 percent. OBVIOUSLY WE WANT TO SEE A TEAM OF CANDIDATES, I'M DETERMINED TO FIELD A TEAM OF CANDIDATES THAT REFLECT ALL OF ONTARIO. MORE THAN 50 percent OF OUR CANDIDATES ARE PEOPLE OF COLOUR. SO WE'RE MAKING SOME REALLY INCREDIBLE PROGRESS THERE BUT WE STILL HAVE A LOT OF ADDITIONAL WORK TO DO THERE AS WELL.

Steve says SOUNDS LIKE YOU'RE NOT GOING TO MAKE THE 30 UNDER 30, THOUGH; IS THAT RIGHT?

Del Duca says I'M STILL OPTIMISTIC. WE HAVE A REALLY VIBRANT WING IN OUR PARTY KNOWN AS THE ONTARIO YOUNG LIBERALS. THEY'RE WORKING HARD WITH OUR CANDIDATE SEARCH TEAM. I THINK FIVE OUT OF 34 IS PRETTY GOOD SO FAR. THERE ARE LOTS OF WOMEN AND MEN STILL UNDER THE AGE OF 30 OR ABOUT 30 WHO ARE PLANNING TO COME FORWARD FROM WHAT I UNDERSTAND. SO I'M STRONGLY URGING EVERY SINGLE ONTARIAN WHO SHARES MY PASSION FOR PROGRESS, MY IMPATIENCE FOR PROGRESS, AND WANTS TO PUT THEIR NAME ON A BALLOT, REACH OUT TO US, REACH OUT TO ME DIRECTLY, AND LET'S SEE IF YOU CAN'T WIN A NOMINATION TO HELP GET OUR PROVINCE BACK ON TRACK.

Steve says DOES YOUR PARTY GIVE YOU THE POWER TO APPOINT CANDIDATES TO A NOMINATION?

Del Duca says YES, OUR CONSTITUTION GIVES THE LEADER OF THE PARTY UP TO FIVE APPOINTMENTS. I'VE USED TWO OF THOSE FIVE SO FAR. ONE CANDIDATE, JILL IN MISSISSAUGA. ANOTHER CANDIDATE, MARILYN RAFAEL IN BRAMPTON. THERE ARE THREE MORE APPOINTMENTS THAT ARE POTENTIALLY AVAILABLE TO ME. THERE ARE A LOT OF REALLY GREAT CONTESTED NOMINATIONS WE'VE HAD EVERYWHERE. THE COOL THING FOR ME, STEVE, IS THERE'S A STRONG ENERGY LEVEL WITHIN OUR TEAM OF CANDIDATES SO FAR, THEY'RE WORKING SO HARD ALREADY, IT MAKES ME... I'M GREATLY ENCOURAGED BY THE PROGRESS WE'RE MAKING THERE TO.

Steve says THE REASON I ASK THE QUESTION AND YOU AND I HAVE BEEN AROUND POLITICS LONG ENOUGH TO KNOW THERE IS A FINE BALANCE BETWEEN RESPECTING LOCAL DEMOCRACY AND ALLOWING PEOPLE IN THEIR RIDINGS TO BUY MEMBERSHIPS AND APPOINT... OR RATHER VOTE FOR WHO THEY WANT TO BECOME THE CANDIDATE. BUT THE LEADER OBVIOUSLY ALSO WANTS TO HAVE A FEW OF HIS OR HER CHOICES ALONG THE WAY AND FROM TIME TO TIME THEY WILL PUT THEIR THUMB ON THE SCALE FOR A PARTICULAR CANDIDATE. I RAISE THIS BECAUSE WE'RE HEARING RUMBLINGS IN TWO TORONTO RIDINGS, TORONTO CENTRE AND ST. PAUL'S, THAT YOUR OFFICE IS IN FACT PUTTING YOUR THUMB ON THE SCALE FOR YOUR PREFERRED CHOICES AGAINST OTHER CHOICES WHO HAPPEN TO BE RACIALIZED CANDIDATES AND MAY HAVE SOME CURRENCY IN THE RIDINGS. COULD YOU COMMENT ON THAT, PLEASE?

Del Duca says AS YOU SAID OFF THE TOP THERE, I'VE BEEN AROUND THIS SYSTEM WITHIN MY OWN PARTY FOR QUITE SOME TIME. I KNOW THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO GO THROUGH THE NOMINATION PROCESS FOR WHOM IT CAN BE TOUGH WHEN THE OUTCOME THAT THEY'RE HOPING FOR ISN'T THE ONE THAT ACTUALLY OCCURS. WHAT I KNOW IS THAT OUR CANDIDATE SEARCH TEAM, THE INDIVIDUALS WHO WORK AS VOLUNTEERS, BY THE WAY, OUR CANDIDATE SEARCH PROCESS IS CHAIRED BY THREE STRONG LIBERAL WOMEN WHO HAVE DONE A GREAT JOB. WE'VE BEEN TALKING TO THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE ACROSS THE PROVINCE WHO WANT TO RUN FOR THE PARTY. I'M DELIGHTED BY THE STRENGTH OF THE CANDIDATES WE HAVE SO FAR. WE HAVEN'T CALLED THE NOMINATION IN TORONTO-ST. PAUL'S AS OF YET BUT I KNOW THERE'S EXCITED INTEREST AND I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO WORKING ALONGSIDE WHOEVER WE NOMINATE IN THAT GREAT LIBERAL RIDING... OR GREAT TORONTO RIDING, I SHOULD SAY.

Steve says YOU CAN'T CALL IT THAT. IT'S A NEW DEMOCRAT RIDING TODAY.

Del Duca says THAT'S RIGHT.

Steve says I KNOW THERE'S BEEN A BIT OF BATTING BACK AND FORTH ON THIS ONE. CAN YOU CONFIRM YOU WILL BE RUNNING IN VAUGHAN IN THE NEXT ELECTION?

Del Duca says ABSOLUTELY THAT IS THE PLAN. THAT'S THE PREMISE OR THE BASIS UPON WHICH I'M OPERATING AND I REALLY LOOK FORWARD TO BEING THE CANDIDATE HERE IN VAUGHAN, WHICH IS MY HOME RIDING WHERE I'M SITTING RIGHT NOW TODAY, AND I'M SO DELIGHTED ABOUT THE PROGRESS WE MADE HERE LOCALLY. VAUGHAN OPENED ITS HOSPITAL A LITTLE BIT EARLIER DURING THE PANDEMIC. THAT'S THANKS TO THE INVESTMENT OF ONTARIO LIBERALS. THE HIGHWAY 427 EXTENSION IS ABOUT TO OPEN, I SUSPECT, AGAIN AN INVESTMENT FROM ONTARIO... THERE'S A LOT OF EXCITING THINGS HAPPENING HERE. YES, I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO BEING A CANDIDATE NEXT YEAR IN THIS RIDING.

Steve says THE QUESTION COMES UP BECAUSE OF COURSE THERE'S A LOT OF SPECULATION THAT MICHAEL COTEAU MAY GO FEDERAL. THAT WOULD OPEN UP DON VALLEY EAST. THAT IS A VERY SAFE LIBERAL SEAT. MIGHT YOU CONTEST THAT IF THERE WERE A BY-ELECTION THERE FIRST?

Del Duca says YEAH, LOOK, I'M NOT LOOKING AT THAT RIGHT NOW. YOU TALK ABOUT MICHAEL Coteau, MY DEAR FRIEND, A COLLEAGUE FOR MANY YEARS. I DON'T WANT HIM TO LEAVE. I ALSO AS A FRIEND SUPPORT HIS DESIRE TO CONTINUE HIS PUBLIC SERVICE. I'M EXCITED ABOUT WHAT HE HAS TO OFFER THE PEOPLE OF DON VALLEY EAST AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL. OBVIOUSLY I WANT TO SEE HIM DO WELL. AND WHATEVER DECISION NEEDS TO BE MADE AT WHATEVER POINT IN TIME THE NOMINATION TAKES PLACE IN DON VALLEY EAST, WE'LL TAKE A SERIOUS LOOK AT EVERY OPTION AT THAT POINT IN TIME. IF MICHAEL WINS THAT NOMINATION, AND I KNOW HOW HARD HE'S WORKED, HE'LL MAKE A PHENOMENAL MP.

Steve says LET ME TAKE YOU FROM YOUR INTERNAL DEALINGS FROM THE LEADER OF THE LIBERAL PARTY OF ONTARIO TO DEALINGS OF THE DAY. I'M GOING TO TAKE YOU BACK TWO FRIDAYS AGO. PREMIER FORD HELD WHAT I GUESS HAS TURNED OUT TO BE AN EXTRAORDINARY NEWS CONFERENCE IN WHICH HE MADE SEVERAL ANNOUNCEMENTS ABOUT FIGHTING CoVID-19, INCLUDING SHUTTING DOWN PARK SPACES, INCLUDING EQUIPPING THE POLICE WITH A LOT MORE POWER TO STOP PEOPLE, POWERS IT TURNED OUT THEY DID NOT WANT AND IN FACT ALMOST UNIVERSALLY REFUSED. THE PUBLIC BLOW-BACK WAS IMMEDIATE AND THE PREMIER STOOD DOWN ON SOME OF THAT, NOT ALL OF THAT BUT SOME OF THAT. MY QUESTION FOR YOU IS: IF YOU HAD BEEN THE PREMIER OF ONTARIO TWO FRIDAYS AGO, TELL ME WHAT THE ANNOUNCEMENT YOU WOULD HAVE MADE?

Del Duca says WELL, I THINK CERTAINLY THE POINT THAT WE FOUND OURSELVES TWO FRIDAYS AGO IN PARTICULAR, BUT I BELIEVE IF I HAD BEEN PREMIER PRIOR TO THAT, MY MESSAGE TO THE PEOPLE OF ONTARIO WOULD HAVE BEEN CRYSTAL CLEAR. I'M GOING TO FOLLOW THE SCIENCE. I'M GOING TO LISTEN TO THE SCIENTISTS. THERE ARE WOMEN AND MEN WHO SERVE ON THE PREMIER'S OWN SCIENCE ADVISORY TABLE WHO HAVE UNIMPEACHABLE CHARACTERISTICS, INTEGRITY, KNOWLEDGE. THEY ARE THE WOMEN AND MEN WHO SHOULD BE LEADING THE FIGHT AGAINST CoVID-19, WHICH, AFTER ALL, IS A PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS. AND THE FACT THAT DOUG FORD IGNORED CONSISTENCY THE ADVICE THAT THEY HAD BEEN GIVING AND TO END UP IN A PLACE WHERE THIS THIRD WAVE IS BRUTAL, WHERE PEOPLE CONTINUE TO GET SICK AND TRAGICALLY DIE IS JUST... IT'S THE CLEAREST ABDICATION OF LEADERSHIP I'VE SEEN IN ONTARIO'S HISTORY BY A PREMIER. YOU KNOW, STEVE, THAT I SAID DOUG FORD IS CLEARLY IN OVER HIS HEAD. I DON'T BELIEVE THAT HE'S GOT WHAT IT TAKES TO GET US THROUGH THIS ORDEAL. AND I THINK HE'S GOT TO GO. I'VE ASKED HIM TO RESIGN. I STAND BY THAT CALL. BUT IF HE'S NOT GOING TO GET OUT OF THE WAY, IF HE'S NOT GOING TO RESIGN NOW, WE WILL WORK AS HARD AS WE CAN TO DEFEAT HIM IN THE NEXT ELECTION TO GET ONTARIO BACK ON TRACK.

Steve says I HAVE BEEN FOLLOWING THIS STUFF FOR ALMOST FOUR DECADES AND I CAN'T EVER RECALL A PREMIER OF ONTARIO TAKING HIS ADVICE ON WHEN TO STAY OR WHEN TO GO FROM THE LEADER OF THE THIRD PARTY WHICH HAS 8 SEATS AND HIS IS IN ONE OF HIM. IF I WERE DOUG FORD, WHY WOULD I LISTEN TO YOU ON THAT?

Del Duca says I THINK THERE'S SOMETHING FAR MORE PROFOUND, AS MUCH AS I RESPECT THE LAST FOUR DECADES OF ONTARIO POLITICAL HISTORY, THERE'S SOMETHING SO MUCH MORE PROFOUNDLY IMPORTANT AT THIS MOMENT. THIS IS NOT... THIS IS NOT LIKE ANY OTHER POLITICAL ISSUE THAT WE KIND OF TALK ABOUT, THE CUT AND THRUST OF POLITICS ON A DAY-TO-DAY BASIS. THIS IS AN ORDEAL THAT WE HAVE NOT HAD TO EXPERIENCE, WELL, IN DECADES. I MEAN, PERHAPS EVER. AND PEOPLE ARE LOSING THEIR LIVES AT THIS MOMENT. THE STORIES ARE TRAGIC. AND THE INACTION AND THE INABILITY OR THE DISINTEREST FROM DOUG FORD TO ACTUALLY DO WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE, TO LISTEN TO THE SCIENTISTS AND GET US THROUGH THIS ORDEAL, IS JUST SHOCKING. SO HE'S GOT TO GO. LIKE, HE DOESN'T... THIS IS NOT STEVEN DEL DUCA BY THE WAY ALONE CALLING FOR THIS. IT'S BECOME PAINFULLY EVIDENT TO THE PEOPLE OF ONTARIO WHO LOST THEIR TRUST AND THEIR CONFIDENCE IN THIS PREMIER. SO I WANT HIM TO GET OUT OF THE WAY BECAUSE I WANT US TO GET THROUGH CoVID-19. I WANT PAID SICK LEAVE. I WANT SMALLER CLASS SIZES. I WANT A REAL PLAN TO DEAL WITH LONG-TERM CARE. THE LIST GOES ON FROM THERE. DOUG FORD IS THE CLEAREST IMPEDIMENT TO ONTARIO'S PROGRESS AT THIS MOMENT THAT I'VE EVER SEEN, AND THAT'S WHY I BELIEVE HE'S GOT TO GO.

Steve says UNDERSTOOD. BUT IF I WERE TO LEAVE, THAT MEANS SOMEBODY FROM HIS CABINET WOULD PRESUMABLY TAKE OVER, AND I INFER FROM THAT THAT YOU THINK SOMEBODY ELSE IN THAT CABINET COULD DO A BETTER JOB. IS THAT RIGHT?

Del Duca says WELL, IT'S INTERESTING. THE DAY BEFORE HE MADE THE ANNOUNCEMENT AROUND POLICE AND PARKS BEING SHUT DOWN, THAT DISASTROUS DAY WHEN HE WAS MET WITH A TRUE WAVE OF FURY FROM OTHER CORNER OF THIS PROVINCE AND DESERVEDLY SO, THE DAY BEFORE THAT I CALLED ON DOUG FORD TO GET OUT OF THE WAY. NOT TO RESIGN AS PREMIER IN THAT MOMENT BUT TO GET OUT OF THE WAY AND APPOINT A CoVID CZAR AND TO GIVE AUTHORITY TO THAT INDIVIDUAL AND I RECOMMENDED DR. BROWN OR OTHERS. THERE COULD BE OTHERS THAT HE COULD PICK FROM HIS OWN SCIENCE TABLE TO NAVIGATE THE REST OF THE CoVID-19 PANDEMIC. YOU THINK ABOUT THIS FOR A SECOND. THE SCIENCE ADVISORY TABLE HAS BEEN GIVING HIM ADVICE FOR WEEKS, FOR MONTHS. AND THE ADVICE COMES TO DOUG FORD. HE THEN TAKES IT INTO A CONFIDENTIAL CABINET MEETING THAT BY HIS OWN ADMISSION, STEVE, GOES ON FOR 9 HOURS. IN ONE EXAMPLE. I'VE SERVED IN TWO SENIOR PORTFOLIOS INSIDE CABINET. I CAN'T UNDERSTAND WHY YOU NEED 9 HOURS TO LISTEN TO THE ADVICE. THAT'S NOT A CABINET MEETING. THAT IS DYSFUNCTION. AND DYSFUNCTION IN THE MIDST OF A PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS HAS BEEN DEADLY FOR FAR TOO MANY ONTARIANS. SO I RECOMMENDED HE GET OUT OF THE WAY, HE APPOINT A CoVID CZAR. THAT INDIVIDUAL HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO GET THROUGH THE REST OF THIS CRISIS AND WE REBUILD ON THE OTHER SIDE. HE MADE HIS ANNOUNCEMENT WE TALKED ABOUT ALREADY. THAT'S WHEN I WAS FORCED IN MANY RESPECTS TO SAY HE HAS MADE IT CLEAR HE DOES NOT HAVE THE CAPACITY TO LEAD THIS PROVINCE. HE'S GOT TO GET OUT OF THE WAY. HE'S GOT TO GO. AGAIN, IF HE WON'T DO IT OF HIS OWN ACCORD BECAUSE HE REALIZES IT'S THE RIGHT THING TO DO, WE'RE GOING TO GET RID OF HIM NEXT YEAR IN THE ELECTION CAMPAIGN AND I BELIEVE THAT'S WHAT THE PEOPLE OF ONTARIO WANT TO SEE.

Steve says WHAT HAPPENS WHEN, AND THIS HAS HAPPENED ON OCCASION! WHAT HAPPENS WHEN HONOURABLE SCIENTIFIC PEOPLE WITH GOOD SOLID BACKGROUNDS GIVE YOU CONFLICTING ADVICE? DOES THE PREMIER AT THAT POINT NOT HAVE TO BRING HIS OWN BEST JUDGMENT TO BEAR?

Del Duca says I DON'T KNOW THAT I'VE HEARD OF ANY CONFLICTING ADVICE ON THINGS LIKE PAID SICK LEAVE. NOW, I ASKED DOUG FORD 410 DAYS AGO, IN A LETTER DATED FROM MARCH 12TH OF LAST YEAR, OF 2020, TO REINSTATE PAID SICK LEAVE. HE AND HIS GOVERNMENT HAVE NOW VOTED AGAINST VARIOUS OPPOSITION MOTIONS AND BILLS ON PAID SICK LEAVE AROUND 20 TIMES IN THE LEGISLATURE. AND THINK ABOUT THIS FOR A QUICK SECOND. WE HEARD... WHAT? FOUR DAYS AGO, FIVE DAYS AGO FROM DOUG FORD THAT HE HAD SUDDENLY SEEN THE LIGHT, THAT HE WAS GOING TO INTRODUCE PAID SICK LEAVE, WHICH WE KNOW HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF ESSENTIAL WORKERS IN PLACES LIKE PEEL AND BEYOND, ACROSS THIS PROVINCE, SO DESPERATELY NEED. AND HERE WE ARE FOUR, FIVE DAYS LATER, STEVE, AND WE'VE HEARD NOTHING. WE'VE HEARD NOTHING. I DON'T GET THAT. I DON'T UNDERSTAND HOW IT'S POSSIBLE, WHEN YOU BELATEDLY ACKNOWLEDGE YOU'VE GOT TO DO IT AND YOU CONTROL THE MAJORITY GOVERNMENT, THAT YOU GO TO SLEEP, THAT YOU SEEMINGLY TAKE THE WEEKEND OFF WHILE PEOPLE ARE STILL GETTING SICK. THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT WHEN I EXPLAIN HE DOESN'T HAVE THE CAPACITY TO LEAD THIS PROVINCE. IT'S WHY HE NEEDS TO GO.

Steve says WELL, OKAY. ON THE ISSUE OF PAID SICK DAYS, I THINK YOU'RE RIGHT. I DON'T THINK THERE'S MUCH DEBATE LEFT IN THE PROVINCE ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT TO BRING THAT PROGRAM IN. BUT, LET'S LOOK AT SOMETHING ELSE. FOR EXAMPLE, IN PEEL REGION, YOU'VE GOT THE MEDICAL OFFICER OF HEALTH THERE USING SECTION 22 OF THE HEALTH PROTECTION ACT TO SHUT DOWN BUSINESSES WHILE AT THE SAME TIME, IN YORK REGION, THE REGION WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW, I MEAN, WE HAD THE MEDICAL OFFICER OF HEALTH ON THIS PROGRAM TWO WEEKS AGO AND HE WAS SAYING I'M TAKING A CONTRARY POSITION. I'M NOT URGING BUSINESSES TO BE SHUT DOWN. IN FACT, I'M TRYING TO KEEP THEM OPEN. NOW, THOSE ARE TWO INTELLIGENT SCIENTIFIC VOICES OFFERING CONFLICTING ADVICE. IF YOU'RE THE PREMIER, WHAT DO YOU DO IN THAT CASE?

Del Duca says BUT I DON'T LOOK AT THAT AS CONFLICTING ADVICE. THEY HAVE THE POWER UNDER SECTION 22, AS YOU TALKED ABOUT, TO DO WHAT THEY ARE CHOOSING TO DO, GIVEN THE NATURE OF HOW THEY'RE FIGHTING THE VIRUS IN EACH OF THEIR RESPECTIVE REGIONS. SO DR. LOH AND THE OTHER MEDICAL DOCTORS THAT WE HAVE IN LEADERSHIP POSITIONS ACROSS THE PROVINCE HAVE THAT OPTION TO MAKE THOSE DECISIONS LOCALLY. BUT I BET IF YOU ASKED EACH ONE OF THEM, DO YOU SUPPORT PAID SICK LEAVE, LIKE THE SCIENCE ADVISORY TABLE HAS ASKED FOR, IT WOULD BE UNANIMOUS. IN FACT THE ONLY PERSON IN ONTARIO WHO SEEMS TO NOT REALLY BE INTERESTED OR WILLING TO DELIVER ON PAID SICK LEAVE IS DOUG FORD. AND THAT'S, AGAIN, A VERY CLEAR INDICATION THAT HE'S IN OVER HIS HEAD, THAT HE DOESN'T HAVE THE CAPACITY OR THE INTEREST OR THE DESIRE... AND I DON'T REALLY UNDERSTAND WHY THAT IS, STEVE. THERE ARE DAYS WHEN I THINK HE JUST DOESN'T TRUST WORKERS ENOUGH TO USE A PROGRAM THAT COULD HELP KEEP THEM SAFE AND COULD HELP KEEP THEM ALIVE IN SOME CASES AND THAT'S A REALLY STUNNING INDICTMENT OF SOMEONE WHO IS SUPPOSED TO LEAD THIS PROVINCE.

Steve says YOU WERE ONCE MINISTER OF TRANSPORTATION, MINISTER OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. YOU DON'T HAVE A HEALTH POLICY BACKGROUND. HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU'D BE ANY BETTER.

Del Duca says THAT'S WHY I SAID I'D FOLLOW THE SCIENCE. THERE'S SOMETHING VERY IMPORTANT IN LEADERSHIP NOW MORE SO THAN EVER BEFORE AND THAT'S SELF AWARENESS. DOUG FORD DOESN'T HAVE IT. NOW, I KNOW I'M NOT PERFECT AND THOSE CLOSEST TO ME, MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS, WILL BE THE FIRST TO TELL YOU I AM A WORK-IN-PROGRESS AND I HAVE A LOT OF ROOM TO IMPROVE BUT I WILL SAY AT THIS POINT IN MY LIFE, ESPECIALLY AFTER WHAT I WENT THROUGH IN 2018, I'M SELF-AWARE ENOUGH TO KNOW WHEN I NEED HELP AND WHEN I'M PREPARED TO ASK FOR HELP. IN THIS CASE, BECAUSE I DON'T HAVE A SCIENCE BACKGROUND, AND DOUG FORD DOESN'T EITHER, I WOULD WANT THE SCIENTISTS TO GIVE ME THE ADVICE. THIS IS THE EXAMPLE I USED THE OTHER DAY. IF WE WERE IN A MILITARY CAMPAIGN, I ALSO DON'T HAVE A MILITARY BACKGROUND. WOULDN'T I WANT A COMMANDER IN CHIEF, AND I CALLED IT A CoVID CZAR, AS I SAID EARLIER, WOULDN'T I WANT MY OWN VERSION OF EISENHOWER TO LEAD THE LIBERATION OF EUROPE? THAT'S THE EXAMPLE THAT I'VE USED IN THE PAST. I STAND BY THAT EXAMPLE. OF COURSE YOU WOULD. OF COURSE YOU WOULD. YOU WOULDN'T WANT THE POLITICIANS TO GET INTO THE WAY OR TO MEDDLE. FRANKLY, WE DON'T KNOW WHO IS LOBBYING DOUG FORD. WE DON'T KNOW WHO IS WHISPERING IN HIS EAR. WHAT WE DO KNOW IS THAT 410 DAYS AFTER I FIRST ASKED FOR PAID SICK LEAVE TO BE REINSTATED, FIVE DAYS AFTER HE TOLD US THAT HE WAS GOING TO DO IT, WE STILL HAVEN'T SEEN IT. SO THERE IS SOMETHING FUNDAMENTALLY BROKEN AND DYSFUNCTIONAL INSIDE THAT PREMIER'S OFFICE, INSIDE THE CURRENT CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT. PEOPLE ARE GETTING SICK. THIS IS LIFE AND DEATH. IT'S TRAGIC. WE NEED TO LISTEN TO THE SCIENTISTS. AND IF I WAS PREMIER TODAY, IT'S WHAT I WOULD BE DOING BECAUSE I'M SELF-AWARE ENOUGH TO KNOW WHEN I NEED HELP. DOUG FORD... WELL, HE'S NEEDED HELP FOR WEEKS. NOW IT'S TOO LATE. HE'S GOT TO GET OUT OF THE WAY. HE'S GOT TO GO.

Steve says JUST CURIOUS. YOU HAVE IN YOUR TIME AS LIBERAL LEADER HAD ANY EITHER FACE-TO-FACE OR ZOOM MEETINGS WITH THE PREMIER?

Del Duca says HE INVITED THE OPPOSITION LEADERS TO ONE FACE-TO-FACE MEETING THAT I WAS ABLE TO ATTEND. THIS WAS SEVERAL MONTHS AGO. NOTHING ON ZOOM. BUT I WILL SAY DURING THE FIRST WAVE IN PARTICULAR OF THE PANDEMIC, I DID HAVE, I BELIEVE IT WAS THREE TELEPHONE CONVERSATIONS WITH THE PREMIER, AT THAT POINT IN TIME. BUT THAT HAD BEEN... PROBABLY THE LAST POINT WOULD HAVE BEEN, I WANT TO SAY SIX, SEVEN, EIGHT MONTHS AGO AT THE VERY LEAST.

Steve says WAS IT A USEFUL CONVERSATION?

Del Duca says YOU KNOW, I'VE LONG SAID OR I'VE SAID THROUGHOUT THE PANDEMIC THAT I THINK THE OTHER MISTAKE THAT DOUG FORD HAS MADE, AMONGST MANY, HAS BEEN NOT INVITING THE OPPOSITION LEADERS IN, ALL OF US, ON A REGULAR BASIS, TO HAVE A COLLABORATIVE CONVERSATION ABOUT FINDING A WAY THROUGH SOME OF THE SPECIFIC CHALLENGES THAT ONTARIO FACES. AGAIN, I KNOW THAT I DON'T KNOW EVERYTHING, BUT I DID SERVE FOR FOUR YEARS IN CABINET. I'M LEADING A PARTY THAT HAS A CAUCUS THAT INCLUDES A FORMER PREMIER, FORMER CABINET MINISTERS. WE WANT TO BE HELPFUL. WE WANT TO COLLABORATE. I HAVE NOT FOUND THAT ON A CONSISTENT BASIS THAT DOUG FORD HAS BEEN WILLING TO HAVE THAT KIND OF CONVERSATION WITH ALL OF US. AGAIN, IF I WAS PREMIER TODAY, IT'S WHAT I WOULD BE DOING. WE SEE LOTS OF HISTORICAL EXAMPLES OF LEADERS WHO WANT THE BEST ADVICE COMING FROM EVERY CORNER DURING A CRISIS WHEN PARTISANSHIP SHOULDN'T MATTER.

Steve says OKAY. WE'RE DOWN TO OUR LAST MINUTE HERE. I WILL GRANT YOU THAT I AM A BIT OF A SLAVE TO HISTORY, SO THIS MAY BE A RIDICULOUS QUESTION BUT I'M GOING TO PUT IT TO YOU ANYWAY. THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO IS 154 YEARS OLD. AND IN ALL OF THAT TIME, ONLY THREE GOVERNMENTS IN ONTARIO HISTORY HAVE FAILED TO BE REELECTED. THE VERY FIRST ONE IN 1867. BOB RAE'S GOVERNMENT IN 1990. AND THEN THERE WAS THE UNITED FARMERS OF ONTARIO IN 1923. IN OTHER WORDS, WHEN YOU WIN ONCE, THE PUBLIC TENDS TO GIVE YOU A SECOND KICK AT IT. I WONDER HOW DAUNTING YOU FIND THAT HISTORICAL PRECEDENT TO WHAT YOU'RE TRYING TO ACHIEVE.

Del Duca says WELL, LISTEN. I'M ALSO A STUDENT OF HISTORY, AS YOU PROBABLY CAN TELL FROM THIS INTERVIEW TODAY AND FROM CONVERSATIONS WE'VE HAD IN THE PAST, AND I RESPECT HISTORY. BUT IT'S NOT... TO ME IT'S NOT ABOUT THE HISTORICAL EXAMPLES. THE REASON I DON'T FEEL THAT IT'S TERRIBLY DAUNTING IS BECAUSE THIS ISN'T ABOUT ME AND THIS ISN'T EVEN ABOUT ONTARIO LIBERALS AS INDIVIDUALS. THIS IS ABOUT ALL OF US. THIS IS ABOUT 15 MILLION PEOPLE WHO CALL THIS PROVINCE HOME. THEY WANT A PUBLICLY FUNDED EDUCATION SYSTEM THAT'S SECOND TO NONE. THEY WANT A REAL PLAN TO CONFRONT THE CLIMATE CRISIS. THEY WANT GOOD JOBS FOR THEIR KIDS AND GRANDKIDS SO THEY CAN AFFORD A HOME, SO THEY CAN AFFORD TO MOVE FORWARD IN LIFE. ALL OF THAT, UNIVERSAL PUBLIC HEALTH CARE. THE LIST GOES ON AND ON AND ON FROM THERE. WE ARE GOING THROUGH SOMETHING TRULY UNPRECEDENTED RIGHT NOW IN ONTARIO. COMING OUT OF THIS THERE WILL BE A STRONG DESIRE FOR SECURITY, RESILIENCY, EMPATHY, AND A NEW NORMAL THAT ACTUALLY HARNESSES ALL OF OUR CAPACITY IN THIS PROVINCE TO DO INCREDIBLE THINGS. I THINK WE NEED LEADERSHIP THAT RECOGNIZES THAT AND TAKES ADVANTAGE OF IT IN A GOOD WAY. WE ARE WORKING REALLY HARD AS ONTARIO LIBERALS TO MAKE SURE WE HAVE A PLATFORM WITH FORWARD LOOKING POSITIVE AND COMPELLING IDEAS TO PUT IN FRONT OF THE PEOPLE OF ONTARIO. IT'S THE MOST IMPORTANT JOB THAT I HAVE RIGHT NOW BECAUSE I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT ONTARIO'S CAPACITY FOR INNOVATION, OUR CAPACITY FOR A REALLY BRIGHT FUTURE FOR MY OWN DAUGHTERS SO I'M NOT IN ANY WAY DISCOURAGED. I DON'T FIND IT DAUNTING BECAUSE I KNOW ABOUT THE ONTARIO SPIRIT, I KNOW ABOUT THE ONTARIO WAY, AND I'M CONVINCED WE'RE GOING TO GET THERE.

The caption changes to "Producer: Steve Paikin, @spaikin; Producer: Harrison Lowman, @harrisonlowman."

Steve says THAT'S STEVEN DEL DUCA, LEADER OF THE ONTARIO LIBERALS. MR. DEL DUCA, WE'RE GRATEFUL YOU SPARED SOME TIME FOR US ON TVO TONIGHT. MANY THANKS.

Del Duca says THANKS YOU AND STAY SAFE AND HEALTHY.

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