New Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford has been doing the media rounds for the past two days, making promises, such as eliminating taxes for people who make minimum wage and giving the public some insights into how he thinks about things, including the province's "elites."
He also made some mistakes, including offering a description of the carbon market that appeared to show a fundamental misunderstanding of the cap-and-trade system he has pledged to repeal.
Here are some of the highlights of what he's said:
Ford defined the party under his leadership as "progressive." "We're always going to be progressive. We're always going to have a big social heart for a lot of social issues. But we have to be fiscally conservative. We have to be fiscally conservative to make sure that we take care of the most vulnerable people in society. And the only way you can take care of them, David, is by making sure that your finances are in order."
He defined what he means by "elites": "People that sit there, and they're in the Liberals, they're in the NDP, they're in the PC Party, people that look down on the common folk, people who think they're smarter than other people. Some people would even say people [at the] CBC have a little bit of elitism in them. Some people, I'm not saying they do. I'm just saying that. They just think they're better, they're smarter and they think they can tell the common folks how to live their lives. They drink their little bottle or glass of Champagne with their pinky up in the air. That's what an elite is. … Elitism isn't anything to do with money. Half of them don't have two pennies to rub together. They think they're something that they're not."
On climate change, Ford said he believes human activity is causing climate change – to "a certain degree." "I'm not a denier," he said. Asked about what action his government would take on climate change, he said, “Not if it’s a tax. We’re going to stop calling it a tax.”
On taxes, he said people don't need more taxes, but he'll set up a special account where people can pay more tax so people who want to pay more can, which is something that already exists in Ontario.
On the sex-ed curriculum, Ford said, "We're going to review it, make sure that we make changes based on what the parents feel is appropriate, based on what the teachers feel is appropriate."
On CBC's Ottawa Morning with host Robyn Bresnahan:
Ford said the only time he hears comparisons about himself and U.S. President Donald Trump is from the media. "I don't give two hoots about Donald Trump."
Ford said he'd consult with caucus about a free-market system for cannabis sales. "We're going down a path that no one really knows. I have been open to a fair market and letting the markets dictate. I don't like the government controlling anything no matter what it is. … I'm open to a free market and I'm going to consult with our caucus. … I don't believe in the government sticking their hands in our lives all the time. I believe in letting the market dictate."
Ford said he would "absolutely" not cut public sector jobs, but said he would find "efficiencies" that would reduce government spending by four cents on the dollar. "I don't believe in the word cuts, I believe in efficiencies. We drive efficiencies in the private sector, we will start driving efficiencies in the public sector as well."
When pressed on an example for an efficiency he'd find, Ford gave a response that mischaracterized Ontario's participation in the carbon market. He claimed Ontario is sending $469 million of taxpayer money to California, and he would redirect that money and he would redirect that spending to other government priorities. However, it's not clear what he meant.
Ontario took in $471 million in revenue in the its first joint cap-and-trade auction, held February 21, 2018. That money was paid by businesses in Ontario, Quebec and California to Ontario for carbon credits – Ontario did not pay $469 million. However, it could be possible Ford was referring to criticism from Ontario's auditor general that Ontario businesses may pay about $466 million to Quebec and California for allowances by the end of 2020 through the joint carbon market. However, in that case, it appears he would have confused the source of that money – saying it would come from the government, rather than Ontario businesses.
QP Briefing has reached out to his team for comment. In the meantime, here's the quote: "For these credits, we send $469 million dollars over to California, 90 per cent of the population of Ontario doesn't know we're sending $469 million of their hard-earned tax dollars to California. We're sending some to Quebec as well. That's done. We're keeping the $469 million, putting it back into health care, back into education, back into infrastructure. We're going to start driving this province forward."
Ford reiterated his plan to reduce income taxes for those who pay $30,000 or less to zero, rather than increase the minimum wage to $15. "They're going to get $160 extra in the pocket every month." Someone who works a 40-hour week for the current $14 minimum wage makes just under $30,000 a year.
"CBC, of course, came up and asked me if, again, I believe that children, 12, 13, 14, 15 years old should have an operation with the parents' consent. I'm not going to open the abortion debate, it's a federal issue. They asked me a question, I answered it. I could run away, like most politicians do, but every parent I've ever asked, would you allow your children to get their tonsils out without you knowing? Would you allow them to get their appendix out? Would you allow them to go on a school trip without a permission slip? And every single parent I asked said absolutely not."
Ford said he'll have a platform out before the election and it'll be shorter than the People's Guarantee.
Ford said The Globe and Mail story that alleged he was a hashish dealer is false. He said he didn't sue the Globe because its owner is rich and he doesn't want to waste his time. He began his answer thusly: "You want to hash up something – excuse the pun …"
On City News, with Cynthia Mulligan:
Ford predicted the PCs would win a majority, saying the party would “sweep this province.” “I’m predicting right now this is going to be the biggest majority this province has ever seen. We are going to win more seats than anyone ever has,” he said.
On CP24, with George Lagogianes:
Ford complimented Wynne as "a very, very bright person" and praised her debating skills. “We have different visions for the province, but make no mistake about it – I have a great deal of respect for the premier on campaigning and never underestimate her. But then again, she’s never been in the ring with Doug Ford, so there you go.”
Ford apologized on behalf of the party for the problems with the leadership vote. He said the PC Party's leadership election organizing committee (LEOC) had been dissolved. “I’m the first to admit we had problems in the nomination under LEOC. All the people under LEOC are no longer there. I can assure the 125,000 people that weren’t able to vote – we’ll never do that again.”