PORT COLBORNE, Ont. – With Ontario’s election just over a week away, Doug Ford has yet to present a full costed platform for his party despite repeated calls from his opponents to show his plan for the province.
At a news conference in Port Colborne, Ont., on Tuesday, the Progressive Conservative leader was asked repeatedly when he would lay out how he intends to fund the billions in promises he has made during the campaign, but would only say that it will be before the June 7 vote.
Ford said he has already presented his plan through policy announcements in recent weeks, but none of those announcements explain exactly where the money will come from. The former Toronto city councillor has consistently said he will trim four per cent of the provincial budget without cutting any jobs.
“We have a plan, we’ve put a price tag beside every single item … but by the end of this campaign, we will have a fully costed platform,” he said.
When pressed further, he referred reporters to his party’s campaign website. “Go to ontariopc.com, go online…you’re going to see our plan, a great plan, a plan for the people.”
The website – ontariopc.ca – has a section titled “platform” that shows images of Ford and others with labels such as “stop the carbon tax” and “audit Kathleen Wynne” that link to the party’s various campaign promises.
Under the section called “balance the budget,” the site says, “our kids shouldn’t have to pay for Kathleen Wynne’s mistakes. It’s time to respect the taxpayer and balance the budget!”
The Tories, who had a hefty lead in the polls going into the campaign, are now competing with the NDP for first place.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath compared Ford’s lack of platform to asking someone to sign a contract without the numbers filled in.
“I think not only is it shameful that they haven’t put a platform out but it’s insulting to voters. People are already at the polls. Folks are already voting in the advance polls,” she said. “There’s nine days left to election day and Mr. Ford is somebody who talks a great game around respecting the taxpayer (and) is really being very disrespectful to voters.”
Horwath also defended her hydro plan Tuesday, reaffirming her pledge to lower rates and buy back shares of Hydro One.
Horwath, facing criticism from the Tories for her plan, says one of the first acts of a New Democrat government will be to gather expert advice on how to best conduct the share buy-back of the partially privatized utility.
She listed companies including Heinz, Panera Bread, and Dell, who initially went public and then later bought back shares.
Horwath says the NDP would use the dividend paid by Hydro One to the province to buy back shares, which the Progressive Conservatives say would benefit shareholders.
Horwath has pledged to slash rates by 30 per cent through a number of measures and spend up to $4.1 billion buying back shares of Hydro One.
– with files from Shawn Jeffords.