On the seventh of June, Ontarians are set to decide who will govern our great province. If polls are to be believed, the Doug Ford-led Progressive Conservatives will form a majority government.
While Ford’s populist messaging seems to be resonating with a large segment of the electorate—many of whom are feeling squeezed between stagnant wage growth and the rising cost of living—we have a few questions for those who believe that the Ford PC’s would deliver good government.
First, how will Ford simultaneously reduce taxes and balance the budget without cutting into services?
This question is virtually impossible to answer because Ford has not released a fully-costed platform. While he relentlessly advertises himself as a responsible economic manager, Ford will need to perform fiscal magic to make the numbers add up.
A Ford government promises to scrap the cap-and-trade program, surrendering $1.9 billion in yearly revenue. Ford also vows to eliminate provincial income tax on minimum wage workers, while denying them a buck increase to reach the $15 minimum wage in 2019, which would also deprive Ontario of roughly $500 million.
All tallied, Ford will need to cut spending by some $45 billion over three years to balance the books, but how?
His answer has been through ‘efficiencies’ and ‘waste reduction’, but that’s not a serious plan; it’s a political slogan. The only way Ford will be able to balance the books is through dramatic spending reductions, perhaps in the order of 10 per cent per year, that will in the end hurt all of us.
We are left wondering then which public services Ford will cut and what the long term impact will be.
The second question voters need to consider is how will a Ford government address the international climate crisis?
After years of broken promises and climate inaction, Canada finally seems poised to act for our environment. Multiple provinces, Ontario included, have already attached a price to carbon pollution, in part because it has worked well in jurisdictions like British Columbia, which has had a carbon tax in place for a decade.
Yet, Ford has promised to terminate Ontario’s cap-and-trade program, which would throw our climate policy into disarray.
The final question to consider, does Ford have the political experience and, perhaps more importantly, the virtues of character, to govern Ontario’s 14 million residents? Some will answer ‘yes’ on account of his business experience. Let’s not forget that Ford inherited the family business, hardly proof that one has the economic chops to manage an $800 million dollar economy.
Doug Ford’s political resume can fit on a Post-it Note, which does not bode well for our province. He is a one-term Toronto City Councillor whose time in office was beset by scandal.
From our vantage point, Ford is modelling himself on President Trump.
Both inherited a family fortune, are hostile to the media, and neither seems particularly interested in the subtleties of public policy or the legislative process; all of which concerns us.
To the Doug Ford voter: we sympathize with your frustration and share your concerns about the future of our province. We also invite you to think about these questions.
Jerry Dias is the National President and Naureen Rizvi is the Ontario Regional Director of Unifor. This originally appeared in the Toronto Sun on Friday, May 11, 2018.