Toronto

You have 'our full support' premier tells tornado-ravaged areas of Ottawa

Premier Doug Ford promised Saturday evening “to do whatever it takes” to help residents of Ottawa affected when two tornados tore through the area.

‘We are thinking about the people of Ottawa’ premier said at annual Ford Fest party

Premier Doug Ford addressing supporters who flocked to the grounds of a recreation centre in Vaughan Saturday evening for this year's annual Ford Fest party. (CBC)

Premier Doug Ford promised Saturday evening "to do whatever it takes" to help residents of Ottawa affected when two tornados tore through the area Friday.

Addressing supporters who flocked to the grounds of a recreation centre in Vaughan for this year's Ford Fest, the premier said the entire province is standing with those affected.

"We are … thinking about the people of Ottawa affected by the tornado yesterday, especially those in Dunrobin," Ford said.

"We want you to know that the entire province stands with you and is praying for you tonight. The storm yesterday ruined a lot of homes and businesses and like I told the mayor of Ottawa today we're going to do whatever it takes to help them get back on their feet."

Ford said he will be heading to Ottawa Sunday morning to meet the crews and the frontline workers to offer the full support of the Ontario government in the clean-up efforts.

"Tonight, I want to let the people of Ottawa know that we are all thinking of you."

Ford also asked those gathered to pause for a moment and say a prayer for the two brave police officers shot early on Saturday in Burlington.

"I visited them and their families today, I'm happy to say that they'll be OK," he said.

"My friends, we have the best police right here in Ontario. They put everything on the line to protect our communities and we are so grateful for their service."

Some previous Ford Fests were hosted at Doug Ford's home in Etobicoke. Hundreds of people turn out each year for the party. (Nick Boisvert/CBC)

Ford's supporters have flocked to the grounds of the recreation centre for this year's Ford Fest.

Event organizers say the annual barbecue is expected to be bigger than ever with Doug Ford as premier.

Historically, the event has taken place at Ford's mother's home in west-end Toronto, but Tory spokesman Marcus Mattinson says the Vaughan venue was chosen to host thousands.

The premier largely used the event to highlight his new government's accomplishments and criticize the previous Liberal regime of former premier Kathleen Wynne over green energy projects, cap and trade and the provincial deficit.

"The sad truth is Kathleen Wynne and her Liberals destroyed our province's finances," Ford said, eliciting a chorus of boos from the crowd.

"Fifteen years of the worst financial scandals and mismanagement in the history of Ontario," he said. "We are spending over $1 billion each month, that's each month, just on the interest of the debt alone."

Ontario Finance Minister Vic Fedeli said Friday the province will have to make sacrifices as it grapples with a newly revised $15-billion deficit.

Ford Fest has been running for more than 20 years and originated as a family barbecue in the backyard of the home of Ford's mother, Diane Ford.

At last year's event — before Ford ran for and ultimately won his party's leadership and the provincial election — he announced his intention to run for mayor in this year's election.

With files from the Canadian Press

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