Doug Ford is potentially just under three months away from becoming Ontario’s next premier.
The bombastic, populist politician capped off a whirlwind leadership campaign this weekend, declaring victory following a series of technical issues and disputes at the Progressive Conservative Party’s leadership event in Toronto.
He then had to wait nearly a day before runner-up Christine Elliott would concede.
As the dust settles, attention now turns to what kind of leader Ford will be, and what kind of platform he’ll be presenting to Ontario voters ahead of the June 7 election.
The former Toronto mayoral candidate was fairly short on details during the race, making broad promises to push out “elites” and make sure Ontario is “open for business.” His website appears devoid of any policy statements.
But he did advance a few concrete proposals. Ford promised, for instance, that out of respect for the party membership, he would make few changes to the People’s Guarantee – the PC platform advanced under former leader Patrick Brown. He told National Post Radio in February that he’d change around 10 per cent of the document. On Monday, he told Global News’ Andrew Lawton that it would be “condensed.”
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Here’s a look at what we might expect.
Ford has been clear that, like all his fellow leadership candidates, he opposes the carbon tax plan that was supported by Brown. That could present a big problem for the federal government should he become premier, and indeed for Ford himself.
WATCH: Doug Ford says he won’t allow a carbon tax to be instituted
If Ontario doesn’t accept that it must put a price on carbon, it will have the federal pricing plan imposed on it by Ottawa in 2019. That said, Saskatchewan has already stood up and said it won’t play ball on the carbon tax and is willing to go to court over it, so there is a precedent for provincial pushback.
There’s also the question of money. Refusing to implement a carbon tax will deprive Ontario of at least $4 billion in tax revenues that Brown’s team factored into their People’s Guarantee.
Ford’s answer to the funding shortfall was to promise that he’d find “efficiencies” at Queen’s Park, saving a minimum of 4 cents on every dollar of government spending. The Green Energy Act would be one of the first things to go, he has said.
Ford has also been clear on this policy issue, and on Monday he reiterated a promise to first repeal, and then review, Ontario’s new sex education curriculum. The pledge is an important one among the party’s social conservatives.
WATCH: ‘We’re going to review that’ says Doug Ford on sex-ed curriculum
Consultations with parents were “insufficient” before the new curriculum was brought in under the Wynne government, Ford contends, and it’s parents who should be making the decisions about how and when their kids learn about sex.
Ford also said the curriculum “should be about facts, not teaching Liberal ideology” – a possible reference to teaching things like gender identity.
Jobs and taxation
Ford presents himself as a traditional fiscal conservative in that he opposes big government and wants to slash taxes. That revealed itself in a few specific ways during the race.
Ford pledged, for instance, to freeze Ontario’s minimum wage at $14 an hour, but also to eliminate provincial taxes for anyone earning less than $30,000 a year. He has promised corporate tax cuts to encourage more investment in Ontario, and a 22 per cent cut in hydro rates.
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During a visit to Thunder Bay, Ford also said he would incentivize doctors practicing in northern Ontario by cutting their provincial taxes significantly – right down to 0 per cent.
On the employment front, he has been less specific.
“This province has lost over 300,000 manufacturing jobs, and we will get them back,” he said at his campaign launch event in early February.
Ford has repeatedly said he wants to erect a “big sign” at the border proclaiming that Ontario is “open for business.”
Ford’s stance on abortion made headlines during the race when he suggested that minors should require permission from their parents before undergoing the procedure.
In an interview with CBC News in Windsor, Ont., Ford said that “kids can’t even get their tonsils out without the approval of their parents … I think we’ve got to consult parents, and that’s what we have to do.”
Ford also said that while he would not personally revive the abortion debate, members of his caucus will be allowed to advance legislation on any matter important to them – including abortion.
“I will never put members of my party in a position where they will have to compromise or deny their personal beliefs,” he said in one statement. “I will never muzzle members of our caucus.”
On Monday, however, Ford was again asked about the abortion issue and said it was not “on the top of my priority list.”
The new PC leader used an anecdote about his own mother to illustrate what he perceives as the “hallway healthcare” being delivered in Ontario.
COMMENTARY: Can Doug Ford do what Patrick Brown couldn’t?
After a fall, he said, his mother was taken to Humber River Hospital, where she was placed on a stretcher in the hallway.
Ford said that if he is elected premier, wait times would be reduced and the healthcare sector would get fresh “resources” and new front-line workers, although he has not yet given specific details of that plan.