Dealing with Doug
By Chad Ingram
Published June 14, 2018
Despite the troubles facing it earlier this year, the Ontario PC party quickly and easily swept its way to a majority government last week.
In a massive swing of the political pendulum, the provincial Liberals were decimated so badly that they lost official party status, and will now hold just seven seats in Queen’s Park.
Congratulations to Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock MPP Laurie Scott on her fifth electoral victory, which was a commanding one. Scott took nearly 57 per cent of all ballots cast in the riding, a total of nearly 33,000, more than twice as many as her nearest competitor.
Scott has become an effective legislator as a member of the Opposition – the province’s Anti-Human Trafficking Act was based largely on a private member’s bill by Scott, for which she was credited – so she should certainly be able to leverage her new status within the government for the betterment of the riding.
Then there’s the matter of Scott’s leader, premier-elect Doug Ford. Ford is a populist and an opportunist. This is a guy who was going to run for mayor of Toronto in the fall municipal elections, before the opportunity to lead the PC party presented itself.
Ford says things that are outlandish and demonstrably untrue, such as his pledge to scrap the CBC, which falls under the mandate of the federal government.
He’s made a whack of promises that to the rational mind cannot all be accomplished, the foremost among them trimming $4 billion from the budget, without a single job loss. Last week, Ford went even beyond that, saying that once the economy is booming, the province will be hiring more doctors, nurses and health-care workers.
We’re also all getting 10 cents a litre off gas, 12 per cent off our hydro bills and one-dollar beers. Can’t wait.
Ford’s populist rhetoric and businessman-for-the-everyman persona have of course earned him numerous comparisons to the American president, and monikers such as “Trump North” and “Trump Lite.” His record as a Toronto city councillor shows a tendency to vote against things like arts funding, social programming and transit, and he’s said in the past he’d cut public library funding “in a heartbeat.”
With a majority government, there is effectively no way for the opposition parties to keep Ford in check. That responsibility will fall to the PCs themselves.
While he has zero provincial political experience himself, Ford is surrounded by a number of veteran provincial leaders within the PC caucus. If he earnestly listens to some of the more experienced and levelheaded members of the party, our own MPP among them, and largely lets them steer the ship, there’s no need for this government to be the Trump-like train wreck some fear it will be.