TORONTO — Ontario Premier Doug Ford waded into U.S. politics during a visit to the country's capital on Friday, criticizing high-profile Democratic politicians and appearing to endorse President Donald Trump's bid for re-election.
Ford took shots at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Bernie Sanders during an event organized by the Canadian American Business Council. The Premier was in Washington D.C. along with a group of other provincial leaders to attend the winter meeting of the National Governor's Association.
While critiquing the actions and views of the left-leaning politicians, Ford expressed a desire to see the upcoming U.S. election results tilt towards the other end of the political spectrum.
"Let's see what happens in the election," he said. "But right now, again, the economy is booming here, is booming in Ontario. We hope the election is going to turn out the right way. Literally the right way."
Ford said he enjoyed Trump's State of the Union address this week and slammed Pelosi for ripping up a copy of the remarks on television.
"I was disappointed when I saw Nancy Pelosi get up there and start tearing the speech up," he said during the event with the Canadian American Business Council. "It's uncalled for. I think it's a shame."
Ford also took aim at Sanders, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, describing his political leanings as "actually scary."
"I always say socialism doesn't work," Ford said. "Raising taxes does not work. Show me anywhere in the world that it works, it doesn't."
Ford is one of four Canadian premiers in the U.S. this weekend to help foster better co-operation and improved trade between their provinces and U.S. states.
Earlier in the day, Ford announced Ontario would negotiate trade agreements with individual states in a bid to work around federal "Buy American" policies which have been touted by Trump.
That plan will see the province attempt to strike so-called Strategic Investment and Procurement Agreements with states to increase trade.
Ford's office said the premier has meetings scheduled over the weekend with the governors of Maryland, Wisconsin, Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.
Ontario is the top trading partner with 19 states and the second-largest trading partner with nine others.
Opposition politicians back home were quick to condemn Ford's commentary on U.S. politics.
Green party Leader Mike Schreiner called Ford's remarks "wrong" and said the premier should not be taking sides during a U.S. election.
"Sadly, Premier Ford shares Trump's irrational opposition to renewable energy and climate action," he said in a statement. "Like Trump, Ford is cutting taxes for the rich and waging war on the places we love."
NDP ethics critic Taras Natyshak said Ford's focus should be on his home province, not U.S. affairs.
"Schools across Ontario and public health units are laying off staff," he said on social media. "Maybe get back to Ontario and focus (on) our schools and health."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 7, 2020.
Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press