Doug Ford’s arsenal of electoral weapons is enviable. The new Ontario Progressive Conservative Party leader, absent a not impossible John Tory/Tim Hudak style self-inflicted ‘gun shot’ wound or a sudden wild card arousal of New Democrat fortunes, should awaken on the morning of June 7 filled with confidence and wearing the new ring eager lips will press as Ford assumes occupancy of the Premier’s Office and the centre seat of government benches.
Kathleen Wynne’s ego-fuelled refusal to step aside as both Premier and Liberal Party leader at an opportune moment during the last twelve to fourteen months, has already sealed the fate of both Wynne, who may lose her riding and the party which may well be decimated.
Ford need only begin with the Ontario Auditor General’s reviews of Wynne’s critical electricity infrastructure misfire. No one has forgotten the many billions of dollars of unnecessary debt handed off to current and future generations of voters. Speak with particularly rural residents of the province about the cost of heating and lighting homes and businesses which became so prohibitively outsized many Ontarians weren’t refusing to pay their hydro bills, they just couldn’t. So they lived in the dark and wore coats indoors against the cold.
Business owners took steps to just survive, like the owner of a 5,000 square feet supermarket who recently installed efficient and modern freezers and fridges, but because of huge increases in electricity costs was nevertheless forced to seal off two-thirds of his store’s floor space as a thirty-plus year supermarket morphed to corner store.
Jobs and hope were lost. Wynne’s response was to admit she’d made a “mistake” and under the so-called Fair Hydro Plan restructure the provincial hydro debt temporarily reducing the monthly bill hit, before the massive cost again roars to voracious life. By 2028, declares the Auditor General Ontarians will be paying more for their electricity than it costs to produce. The bill will range up to $40 billion, almost $4 billion more than necessary. Blame that on interest rates for borrowing over 20 years.
Wynne’s hydro disaster has, according to a Fraser Institute report, also cost some 74,000 manufacturing jobs in the province as business struggles to maintain competitiveness.
That the total provincial debt stood at just over $312 billion in 2017, making Ontario the most indebted sub-sovereign jurisdiction in the world will suit the Ontario PC’s fiscal responsibility mantra perfectly. There is no way to mask the reality of that $312 billion number. Meanwhile Ontario families, tagged with eliminating a significant portion of the provincial shortfall, were themselves in 2016 an average of almost $154,000 in debt.
Add repeat and widely reported irritants like the all-too-cozy relationship between the Wynne government and teachers unions, with $22 million in unaccountable grants and some $3.8 million to pay for the unions costs during three rounds of bargaining and Doug Ford has enough ammunition with which to rip fiscal torpedoes into the heavily-listing Ontario Liberal Party’s record as stewards of the province.
And that is just the beginning. Arrogance is about to meet its comeuppance.