Under normal circumstances, Quebec Premier François Legault might have found a lot in common with Doug Ford, his Ontario counterpart, during their first tête-à-tête in Toronto Monday.
Both are businessmen-turned-politicians who have arrived in power by unseating long-entrenched Liberal governments. Both are fiscal conservatives with populist tendencies. Both have concerns about immigration. Both are at odds with Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on major priorities. Both have threatened in their brief tenures to use the notwithstanding clause should the courts stand in the way of their legislative agendas.
But looming large over a meeting between the next-door neighbours, which was supposed to focus on strengthening economic ties, was the Ford government’s unfortunate decision last week to sacrifice the rights of Franco-Ontarians in the name of clawing its way out of a financial hole. In an economic update, the Ontario government cancelled plans for a francophone university and axed the province’s French-language commissioner, absorbing its functions into the ombudsman’s office.