COMMENTARY: NDP’s momentum comes as voters reject Doug Ford’s ‘man of the people’ act
How did Doug Ford alienate millions of voters and blow another election? Basic things. But one thing in particular: people started to see through Doug Ford’s “man of the people” act.
Even from the start, numerous polls showed Ford’s intensely negative approval rating. His personal ratings have consistently been lower than the PC party’s. In politics, when you step forward, you step forward on your strongest foot. This misstep showed either supreme arrogance or stupidity.
Then, early on, we saw a disturbing glimpse of the real Ford. When he stands on stage, he’s a man of the people. But standing in a backroom with land developers, he wanted to tear up the Greenbelt. Trust took a hit.
He didn’t put out a costed platform showing his cuts. At first, Ford said he would — as his predecessor Patrick Brown had done. Now, with just eight days to the end of voting, some PC MPPs are saying there will be a plan showing the cuts. But no one can say when. What is Ford hiding?
WATCH: Horwath, Wynne hit Ford over his trustworthiness in final leaders debate
The Ford tax plan went from a major plank to an albatross. On the surface, it sounded good. But the Horwath campaign got people to look under the glossy cover. Horwath pointed out that Ford’s tax plan would give $1,100 to a person earning over $109,000 and only $18 to an average person earning between $39,000 and $49,000. And it could cost you your hospital.
People were offended. Ford’s tax plan backfired so badly that Horwath started campaigning on Ford’s tax plan. Ford’s bus says “for the people,” Horwath noted. But his tax cuts are for the rich.
Trust. Ford is guy who meets in backrooms, won’t show a plan for cuts, and is trying to give more money to people who already have the most.
His gas tax cut backfired. He pledged a $1.19 billion per year cut — but couldn’t explain how municipalities would replace the revenue for roads and transit. No plan showing the cuts.
Then came a bombshell. A reporter said she had sources telling her that 29 candidates for PC nomination had paid over $20,000 each for a “specific process” which included paying international students $200 “per trip” to vote in PC nominations using names from the stolen 407 data. As the Ford campaign went into temporary lock-down, trust evaporated.
ELECTION PANEL: Ontario election political panel debates who won final debate
Ford looked dodgy at debates, making outrageous claims about himself and his main opponent, Andrea Horwath. He completely dodged the first one, hosted by the Jamaican-Canadian Association in April. At the second, Horwath asked Ford why he didn’t “have the guts” to present a costed plan showing where he would make his cuts — no answer. At the Northern Debate, he rambled and ranted about how the NDP would destroy northern Ontario. Again Ford showed no plan for what he’d cut. It was just “trust me.” People didn’t.
And at last Sunday’s debate, Ford’s big claims were brought down by Horwath’s question of the night.
“People started voting yesterday, Mr. Ford,” said Horwath. “Where is your platform? Where is your respect for the people now, when they’re already at the polls and you haven’t provided them any information about what it is you plan to do in our province? What are you going to cut?”
Ford wanted voters to believe he was a management genius who could cut $6 billion from budgets without costing a single job. But usually, management geniuses have a plan. No trust. No Ford.
And after Doug Ford’s most recent debate, the PC campaign didn’t even try to claim victory. The best they could do was claim Wynne won, hoping a boost for her would be at the expense of Horwath.
So this week came the big change-up. Finally, the PC strategists pushed Ford to the sideline, emphasizing the PC brand over the Ford brand.
With 10 days to go, they launched the PC all-stars. But the all-stars didn’t look so trustworthy. Sure, there were some names people might know. But calling the rambling, hyper-partisan Lisa MacLeod an all-star was a stretch.
And the all-star rookies went down like lead balloons. Caroline Mulroney spent many years in New York City working for Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc. on Wall Street. Rod Phillips pulled down nearly $1 million a year in income from his Liberal government employers. And Donna Skelly was struggling against a report that she was a promoter of an alt-right website with vile alt-right content.
The all-stars sure looked like a collection of millionaires and bigots. And still no plan explaining the cuts.
With election day a week from Thursday, no one can remember what Ford’s five priorities are. But people knows Doug Ford will not give voters a plan showing his cuts. People suspect he’s not for the people — he’s for the rich.
Trust is gone. The last eight days will be desperate times.
Tom Parkin is a former NDP advisor and a political commentator with a social democratic point of view.
Tom Parkin joins Deb Hutton and Omar Khan on Global News’ regular political panel, appearing on Global Toronto and AM 640 Corus radio throughout the campaign and as part of our election night coverage.