What’s next for Doug Ford’s Ontario government after his PCs win another election
Doug Ford’s landslide victory in the Ontario election undoubtedly gives him and his Progressive Conservative government a solid mandate for the next four years. The big questions now surround what he will do with it.
1. How will Ford govern?
With an even bigger majority than last time, a weakened leaderless NDP and a ragged leaderless Liberal Party, will Ford believe he has carte blanche to pursue whatever agenda he wants? Will he return to the way the bull in a china shop operated during his first year in office?
“Any leader, when you first come in, you move up in the position,” Ford said Friday during his post-victory news conference when asked what he intended to do. do differently in his second term.
“I have learned a lot over the past four years.”
Jaskaran Sandhu, a political strategist who has worked as an adviser to various parties, says Ford and the team around him have changed since coming to power.
“They were very aggressive from the start to the point of alienating a lot of people,” Sandhu said on CBC News’ election night special Ontario Votes 2022.
“For next time, Doug Ford will learn from this mistake.”
While opposition parties are preoccupied with their own leadership races, Sandhu believes Ford can function as “a leader who has complete control of Queen’s Park” and need not engage in a combative style of politics.
WATCH | A look at how Ford scored another big win on PC:
2. What happens when the pandemic subsides?
COVID-19 has derailed the plans of governments around the world and this has been no exception in Ontario. Throughout 2020 and much of 2021, Ford has been forced to devote most of its attention to fighting the pandemic.
Now that he no longer looms large as prime minister, will Ford feel freed from the constraints of his first term and eager to make up for lost time in his second?
The PC government faces many difficult issues in its second term, including fiscal and economic, said Jaime Watt, executive chairman of Navigator, a Toronto-based strategic communications firm and longtime Conservative organizer.
“People expect them, especially as an experienced government, to get going,” Watt told CBC Radio. Subway morning Friday. “I think he will have a short honeymoon.”
3. How is inflation taken into account?
Affordability and the cost of living ranked first in almost every published poll of voters for their top election issues. Ford proposed three main things to make life more affordable, all focused on making driving a car cheap: remove the $120/year fee to register a vehicle, eliminate tolls on Highway 412, and 418 owned by the province and hit 5.7 cents per liter less on gasoline tax effective July 1.
But these cost savings are more than offset by soaring inflation, which is hitting a three-decade high of 6.8%, which is deeply eating away at the wages of Ontario workers.
It will certainly make things interesting at the bargaining table. The Ford government will soon face contract negotiations with teachers’ unions and other education workers, and with inflation so high, pay rises are bound to be a major sticking point.
Ford said he was aiming for “the best deal for taxpayers, number one, but the best deal for frontline teachers” in these negotiations.
“We’re calling on Premier Ford to change his government’s approach in this second term,” said Karen Brown, president of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, the largest union. teachers in the province, in a statement released Friday.
Brown said teachers have not been consulted on crucial education decisions for the past four years.
Together, we can ensure a public education system that supports, uplifts and celebrates every student. “Let’s go this done,” Brown said, clearly pushing Ford’s “Get It Done” campaign slogan.
4. Will Ford ‘make it happen?’
Speaking of which, Ontarians will be looking to see what the Ford government actually does over the next four years.
Progress on some “it”s will be fairly easy to measure, especially building things: subways, highways, hospitals, long-term care homes, and schools.
Oh, and that road to the Ring of Fire mineral deposit in northern Ontario (something Ford promised in the last election to build, if he had to jump on the bulldozer himself).
“We have a big program to complete and deliver on our promises,” Ford said Friday. “We’re going to make sure we keep every one of our promises.”
In the flurry of pre-campaign announcements promising to build things across Ontario, the government has remained vague on many projects’ timelines and sometimes even costs, with Highway 413 being the best example.
With their “Get It Done” message about building things, PCs have leveraged the political advantage of the capital construction plan that the provincial government routinely tables each year by spotlighting projects roughly anywhere in its 10-year pipeline.
If the plans the government announced ahead of this election have not materialized by the next election, people will wonder if “Get It Done” was anything more than a catchy slogan.
WATCH| Ontario PCs win second majority government:
5. Are cuts on the way?
Outgoing NDP leader Andrea Horwath had some parting advice for Ford on what the election result did and did not mean.
“Doug Ford needs to realize that Ontarians did not vote for more cuts and privatization of the things that matter most,” Horwath said in his election night concession speech.
Ford once said that listening to Horwath was “like listening to nails on a blackboard”. Is there any chance he’ll follow her advice?
Asked about the potential for cuts on Friday, Ford talked about what it called efficiencies.
“There are better ways to deliver services more efficiently at lower cost,” Ford said.
“We’re going to make sure that we respect taxpayers’ money. And that money that we save, it can go straight into health care, goes straight into education.”