One of the most experienced MPPs in Doug Ford‘s new Progressive Conservative caucus says it was impossible to roll out a fully costed platform during the provincial election campaign because her boss simply didn’t know the true state of Ontario’s books.
Nepean-Carleton’s Lisa MacLeod joined host Mike Le Couteur on this weekend’s edition of The West Block, and said Ontarians can expect a more complete set of platform promises from Ford in the coming weeks.
“We decided that we would make some modest commitments, roll them out throughout the campaign and wait until we saw what the actual books were,” MacLeod said.
“So we feel confident that we can deliver the modest proposals that we put forward.”
Whether or not those proposals are, in fact, modest may be a matter of interpretation. Ford has, among other things, pledged to reduce hydro bills by 12 per cent, reduce the price of gas, slash income tax, add 15,000 long-term care beds to hospitals over five years and spend $3.8 billion on mental health, addictions and housing supports over the next 10.
The new government will bring in outside auditors to “go line by line” through the finances, MacLeod said, and look for “waste, mismanagement or scandal.”
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Asked when the province would be brought back to budgetary balance, she replied that her party would aim to do it in the third or fourth year of its mandate.
“We will put forward a credible plan,” she promised.
“It’s only been a couple of days since we’ve been elected. Doug Ford’s not yet been sworn in, we don’t yet have a cabinet appointed. Give us some time to take a look at those books.”
The Progressive Conservatives under Ford won a majority mandate on Thursday night, ending more than 15 years of Liberal rule in the province and defeating both Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals and Andrea Horwath’s NDP.
The PCs claimed 76 seats, followed by 40 seats for the NDP, seven for the Liberals (stripping them of their official party status in the legislature, which requires eight) and one for the Greens.
As for the carbon tax that’s already in place in Ontario that Ford has pledged to scrap, MacLeod said her party will push for stiffer penalties for polluters instead. Ford believes in climate change, she noted, and believes it is man-made.
“We’ll have more to say on it in the days and weeks ahead,” MacLeod noted.
Watch the full interview with MPP Lisa MacLeod above.
— With files from Andrew Russell