Here’s our daily look at what’s making news in the lead-up to the next provincial election.
- New Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford has done multiple media interviews since winning the Progressive Conservative leadership, and for the most part, they’ve gone pretty well. But Ford’s chippier side emerged during a Tuesday interview with CBC’s Ottawa Morning radio program. When host Robyn Bresnahan pressed him to give specifics on his vague promises to cut government waste, Ford cited his business experience and then said, “I know you've never done purchasing; I've done it on a million-dollar business on both sides of the border.” Some of his other comments to Bresnahan included “[I’ve] knocked on tens of thousands of doors, unlike yourself" and “You haven't done it — I've done it. That's the difference. Next question."
- Ford told Ottawa Morning that he won’t cut public-service jobs in his effort to trim four cents off of every government dollar spent. As the Ottawa Citizen’s Jon Willing points out, salaries and benefits to public employees count for more than a third of provincial spending. That means Ford would have to find his savings of 4 per cent – which amounts to about $5.6 billion a year — exclusively in government operating costs and in transfers paid to groups such as doctors, long-term care homes, and child-care services. “Toying with the transfer money could impact jobs in publicly funded institutions,” Willing writes. “Chipping away at operations expenses could impact frontline public services. Both could be messy.”
- Ford also told Ottawa Morning he would help people with low incomes by doing away with provincial income taxes for anyone making less than $30,000 a year.
- The PCs say that they are essentially starting from scratch and building a new platform for the election, now less than three months away. While some promises in Patrick Brown’s People’s Guarantee might survive, a member of the Ford team told the National Post that the new platform would be a “shorter and clearer” document.
- Ford told the Globe and Mail that the new platform will include “five points that we’re hearing from the grassroots people” and promised that the costs will be verified before the election. He said the platform will focus on supporting health and education, creating jobs, getting rid of the province’s cap-and-trade program for carbon emissions, and reducing hydro rates. Ford added that he is open to the greater privatization of alcohol sales and indicated he’s not a fan of the Liberals’ plan to sell recreational marijuana exclusively through government-run stores. He also plans to scrap the foreign-buyers tax on real estate, saying a better solution for high housing prices would be to build more affordable single-family homes on underused land.
- In the wake of some controversial nomination races under former leader Brown, Ford intends to review all of his party’s nominations to ensure they are legitimate
- Premier Kathleen Wynne is pushing back at Progressive Conservative allegations that parents were not consulted on the sex-ed curriculum that was introduced in 2015. Wynne told reporters Tuesday that the government consulted with about 4,000 parents “and with the leaders of various parents’ councils at schools, but also with psychologists, psychiatrists, and the police. We spoke with a large number of people across Ontario to develop this curriculum.”
- NDP leader Andrea Horwath pointed to a funding shortfall at a northern Ontario hospital on Tuesday as a sign that the Liberals aren’t spending enough money on health care. While visiting Timmins, Horwath said there is no reason the local hospital should be facing a $4.5 million deficit. “The hospital’s total annual budget at this point is $100 million, but funding from the Wynne Liberals has not kept up with inflation,” Horwath said. The NDP has been raising concerns about hospital funding virtually every day for months — it is one of the party’s key lines of attack against the governing party.
What to watch for
- Many are saying that the Progressive Conservatives’ impressive lead in the polls makes their victory in the next election inevitable. TVO’s John Michael McGrath, though, says that while the PCs have every right to feel the wind is at their backs, there are three ways they could still end up losing.
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