From what I have been seeing and reading, a lot of people seem to be willing to support Doug Ford for premier of Ontario , solely because they want to get rid of Wynne, and, as one of my friends put it, “what other choice is there?” Great “inside-the-box” thinking. It never ceases to amaze me that nobody looks at any alternatives, or takes the time to.
Ford is obviously trying to emulate Trump, with his populist rhetoric, and threats to fire overpaid CEO’s. That we can be so easily seduced by what is said, and what we read in the media, is a threat to our democracy.
I am reminded of Mike Harris, and his so-called “Common Sense Revolution”. We are still paying for his cuts to health care, education, and public programs, not to mention the $14 billion increase in provincial debt brought about by the his government’s decision to borrow money to fund its mid-1990’s tax cuts. And let’s not forget the downloading of the cost of policing, social housing, and public transport to the municipalities.
Think that your municipal taxes are too high? Tired of the long wait for a hospital bed or a physician appointment? You know who to thank for that.
One of the more insidious consequences of the Harris era is that politicians now believe that they have to offer tax cuts to get elected. The real tax cuts have been handed out to corporations by successive Conservative and Liberal governments, to the point where personal taxes now cover 78% of the budget, up 14% since the late 60’s. Corporate taxes have gone down the same amount. Ford is proposing a 22% tax cut, and quite where he is going to get the money from hasn’t been articulated. A number that size, I suspect, will be financed by some considerable borrowing, as Harris did.
Patrick Brown had a fiscally conservative, socially progressive formula by which to run this province. The People’s Guarantee was a surprisingly centrist platform, which, I suspect, could have wooed many who might not otherwise have voted Conservative. Ford, in his wisdom, has thrown it out.
It has been estimated that Ford’s platform could cost us at least $25 billion, a number that includes the foregoing of a $10 billion transfer of payments from the federal government for the carbon tax, which Ford doesn’t believe in. Manitoba is using this same payment to reduce taxes for its citizens.
Ford has had little to say on a coherent policy, offering mostly a reversal on key policies that characterize a modern province. Like Harris, Ford believes that tax cuts are good, regulations that interfere with business are bad, and that government is inherently wasteful.
He has the following that he does because social media and the internet have allowed the spread of fake news and extremist views. People are also not seeing any improvement in living standards, and their future prospects are not bright. Mass immigration is also causing both social and cultural anxiety, leading to some looking for a leader strong enough to restore the comforting past. Doug Ford is a classic example of a populist feeding on this anxiety, and I doubt if many of his followers will look beyond his rhetoric.
How one man can so dramatically change the policies of a party is disturbing. I would like to think that people would look beyond their dislike of Wynne, and ask the tough questions of the Ford “plan” before giving him their vote. However, as news nowadays seems to be consumed in 7 second sound bites, I doubt that most will take the time and effort required to investigate other party platforms, and as a result we will be stuck in the same cycle that we have been for the past couple of decades.