Ontario Premier Doug Ford needs to remember his most important allies in government are the Progressive Conservative MPPs who were elected along with him a year ago, giving him a majority government.
They have an obligation to him — loyalty — and he has an obligation to them — respect.
Their job is to explain, represent and defend Ford’s policies in their constituencies — not just to people who voted for Ford’s party but to everyone who voted for any party.
Ford’s obligation to his MPPs is to listen to them, because they will have a better and more objective understanding of how his policies are being received by the public than his political aides, pollsters, the opposition parties or the media.
At the most basic level of politics, a leader who cannot command the loyalty of his caucus by being loyal to them in return will not be a successful leader for very long.
The political history of Canada is littered with prime ministers and premiers who surrounded themselves with hired yes men and women, who thought that they, no matter what the issue, were the smartest people in the room.
If Ford wants to see where that inevitably leads, all he has to do is look at the rise and fall of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Trudeau is a classic example of a leader who surrounded himself with arrogant sycophants and took their advice over that of his own MPs, including former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould.
If Trudeau had simply followed her advice in the Lavscam scandal, as opposed to what he was getting from inside his own office, he would not be in the political mess he is today, with the clock ticking down on him heading into the Oct. 21 election.
Whatever the outcome of that election, the wounds Trudeau inflicted on himself by his arrogance and the arrogance of those in his office — including their role in the persecution of Vice-Admiral Mark Norman — now endanger his political future.
Brian Lilley wrote in Saturday’s Sun about the growing tension between the Progressive Conservative caucus and Ford’s office, centred on his principal secretary Dean French.
To be sure, some tension between top political aides and elected MPPs is inevitable, and can even be helpful in giving the premier access to a wide variety of relevant views before making a decision on key issues.
But ultimately, Ford is responsible for his relationship with the Progressive Conservative caucus.
If those relations are frayed or damaged, he bears responsibility for it, not his aides or any one aide.
To be clear, Ford has no obligation to tolerate any MPP within his caucus who publicly bad-mouths him.
But it is Ford’s responsibility to be loyal to those in caucus who are loyal to him, because demanding loyalty without giving it is a fool’s game.