Doug Ford: How he performs in this new job affects us all.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

June 8th, 2018



It was never in doubt. Actually the PCs started winning the Ontario election two years ago when Ontario got bored with the Liberals and their leader and turned to the PC’s as their preferred agent of change. So this was probably the most predictable election in the province’s history. And around 40% of the 59% of eligible voters who turned up to vote gave Doug Ford the leash, allowing him to lead Ontario into a new direction. ‘Help is here’ and ‘a new day has dawned’, the province has voted to be ‘turned around’ and become ‘prosperous’ as the slogans go.

Ford wicked smileBut beyond the slogans there is little sign of how we get to that bright new day being promised. As the campaign evolved I became more negative about Mr. Ford, worried about his lack of experience in government and his knowledge of the issues as well as his ability to work with others and provide leadership. But the people have spoken and I hope my fears will prove unfounded and Mr. Ford will do the job so many Ontario voters trusted him to do.

Ontario has a special place in Canada. As the most populous province, we have a particular leadership role, one Ontario has always played, particularly in keeping the country together given its historical relationship with Quebec. It would be helpful in that regard if Mr. Ford would become competent enough to utter at least a few phrases of Canada’s other official language.

We watch the friction between B.C. and Alberta, as each jurisdiction focuses on it’s own needs/wants at the expense of the other, and see how communication has broken down even when they both speak the same language. Parochialism is a destructive force for a union when the greater good is sacrificed for political interest.

Mr. Ford’s first task after assembling a cabinet, which should not be hard given the number of experienced and talented people newly (re)elected, is to bring in a budget. As we recall he had made the most expensive promises of all on the campaign trail, but was alone in not having presented a fully costed platform. That will give him a perfect opportunity to be virtually unconstrained in drafting his first budget, arguably the most important of his electoral term and the one which will ultimately define him.

Ford with documents

Doug Ford – now he needs to come up with a budget.

The Tories had promised to do little on the environmental file except clean up litter. In fact they have committed to dismantle climate change measures put in place by the previous government, including the cap and trade carbon tax, the green Ontario incentives and the renewable energy contracts. One can only hope that this there are enough progressives in Mr. Ford’s caucus to move him beyond this kind of regressive positioning. It is of some small comfort in that light that Ontario has elected its first Green Party MMP – from the once Royal City of Guelph.

Of course we all wish Mr. Ford success and offer our support. How he performs this new job affects us all and may very well impact his ambition to one day become the prime minister of this wonderful nation, or at least be re-elected. Despite all the campaign misinformation, he inherits a province with a near full employment economy, an impressive environmental record and the most progressive slate of social support programs in our history. Mr. Ford also inherits the ‘largest subnational debt’ in the world – one he has promised to do something about.

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers writes regularly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was once a candidate for provincial office in Burlington.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.     Tweet @rayzrivers

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11 comments to Doug Ford: How he performs in this new job affects us all.

  • KJ

    I didn’t bother reading your salty diatribe Ray. I already know how a professional bureaucrat will be feeling after the election.

  • Susie

    Interesting world we live in with little to no trust or honesty left with our leaders. FAKE NEWS, and BEING PARDONED for any wrongs, is the “new norm” to become clean once again!!

  • D.Duck

    List for Ford:
    – need full disclosure of Province’s finances by reputable accounting firm
    – tweak the Sex Ed curriculum (don’t dismantle)
    – tweak the Day Care (full pay for those making minimum wage or families making less than average)
    – tweak the College/University tuition (see above)
    – Dental coverage (like Day care above)
    – change Defined Benefit to Defined Contribution on all civil servants
    – tweak OHIP+ (I should not have to pay for family’s with drug benefit packages)
    – ALL gov’t run administrations (Hospitals, school boards, etc) should only account for 5% of their total budget!!
    – new Gov’t bureaucratic jobs are placed on hold x5yr with no replacement for attrition
    – Increase minimum wage in 2yrs to $15 dollars
    – get rid of the LHINs!!
    – listen to front line Healthcare on how to save $$. Increase beds in Gov’t run LTC
    – promote & support elderly staying at home
    – fire the board and CEO of Hydro One (sends a strong message)……we are 47% stakeholders
    – Continue green initiatives especially subways, transit, GO-trains and convert to electric
    – Continue subsidies on buy green…….cars, appliances, etc
    – Review all passive Green contracts and Electrical supply contracts
    – Leave the Green spaces alone

    More ideas?? I have to go to work.

  • D.Duck

    My wish is that Ford is found to be in egregious conflict with the PC’s ‘Code of Conduct’ if these family allocations are found to have merit and must step down. Then the Deputy Premier……….Elliot?? will step in and steer the true course of the PC party.

  • Ray Rivers

    Stephen – Thanks for your comment and I agree with much of it. But the point of having the AG review the books, as was mandated after the Liberals won in 2003, was to ensure transparency prior to an election. That review of the books has already been done and the disagreement in numbers you point out is also transparent – it depends on whether pension assets are counted or not. She (the AG) is no friend of the outgoing government and you can be sure that she would have reported any significant irregularities were there any.

    Much of the Ford campaign had been based on innuendo. The Liberals had already convened an ‘expert group’ to review the AG’s comments. It is time to move on. Mr. Ford has a lot of promises to deliver and hiding behind a claim that he doesn’t trust the numbers is disingenuous at best. His million dollar review of the AG’s numbers is a waste of taxpayers money and I’d add it to the list you’ve already identified for the chopping block.

    • Blair

      Ray I guess once a Liberal always a Liberal. I think the first saving of taxpayers dollars is to not give the Liberal party official status. This would mean the Liberal party would have to do there research on there dollar not the taxpayers.

  • Stephen White

    Actually, Doug Ford’s first priority should be to figure out exactly the size of the provincial deficit. The Liberals claim that it is somewhere around $6.6 billion. The Provincial Auditor pegs the number at north of $12 billion. Getting a solid handle on the actual state of the province’s financial affairs as determined through an impartial audit is critically important and will guide future actions.

    His second priority should be to figure out how to make non-injurious cuts to the provincial deficit that don’t negatively impact health care, education or services to those in genuine need. A good place to start, as suggested in yesterday’s National Post, would be to cut $5 billion in unnecessary business credits to things like the film industry. Another option would be to drastically trim all the unnecessary, self-congratulatory and “feel good” advertising the Liberals spent during the last two years. Do we all need to be reminded, six months after it was introduced, that the minimum wage is now $14 an hour? I think not. Amalgamating a number of the agencies, boards and commissions, many of which are over-staffed and redundant, would be another avenue to realize savings.

  • Luke

    Well Ray if Mr. Ford should fail to deliver on any of his plans or promises I’m sure he’ll get a pass in the press as long as he can be allowed to blame Mike Harris.

  • Mike

    Ray, a most gracious follow up article, especially after the tone of your last one. I only offer 2 comments. ‘Bored’ is not the word I would use to describe Ontarians’ view of the governing Liberals and Wynne in particular. More comment on that is not necessary. Wrt to Doug, he is now facing one if not the most difficult assignments he has ever had. I hope he has the mettle to deal with it as needed. Returning Ontario to fiscal responsibility will take real leadership to tackle the ridiculous expectations set by the prior government that you can have any social program you want ….. just borrow more money to pay for them.

  • Fred Pritchard

    Ray – While I would be fine to have a Christine Elliot government based on centre right fiscal policy and stead as she goes other stuff. This boastful liar who has been on an ego trip his whole life is dangerous. Hopefully there are enough strong willed people in his team who will stand up to him when, not if, but when, he wants to implement one of his bonehead ideas. (farris wheel on the waterfront). It will be interesting to watch him try and squirm his way out of the spending commitments he has made because he can’t balance the books, pay for all this stuff and not lay anyone off. There are only so many paperclips you can reuse to avoid waste. I give him less than 90 days to suggest the books are worse than they are. Even thought it was the Liberals who brought greater transparency rules to the state of affairs at the drop of the writ with respect to the financial state of the Province. Remember when Ms Elliot’s husband who left us with a $5 Billion whole that he lied about having a balanced budget before the election, when they lost to the Liberals 15 years ago. Both the PC and NDP have a very clear indication of the state of our books, so any finger pointing about surprise numbers will just be more Ford lies.

  • Hans

    I agree – the “HOW” has been missing from the statements of intent.
    In addition, those who want to revise the sex-ed curriculum should read it first. In the 21st century – with internet access, smart phones, etc. – that curriculum needs to address the issues that affect young people in their lives daily.