One of the reasons Premier-elect Doug Ford was elected was that he was seen as a « man of action. » A politician who would move quickly and implement his promises which were modest and offered immediate relief.
This was confirmed by a Navigator research study that Ontarians were more concerned with their day-to-day issues than some pie-in-the sky grand scheme, which became a trademark of Premiers McGuinty/Wynne days in office.
Jaime Watts, executive chairman of Navigator, put it succinctly in a recent op-ed: “Voters wanted immediate relief, not grandiose promises for the future. They wanted policy that would positively impact them now.”
Ford moved last week to cancel Ontario’s cap-and-trade program, representing $1.9 billion. The problem, some critics say, was that he moved too quickly as his government will only be formed next Friday. It’s rare to hear criticism of a government acting too quickly to do anything. Things are normally studied to death. For example, just look at the federal government’s legalizing of pot. It began as an impromptu announcement by then Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau in 2013 and now we’ll see some legalization (edibles and oils not included) on October 17, 2018.
The irony with the cap-and-trade program was that it was never part of Wynne’s election platform in 2014. It was announced with great fanfare 6 months after Ontarians casted their vote. Did Wynne really have a voter mandate to announce such a far-reaching, broad public policy plank? I doubt it.
But Ford, who clearly laid out his plans to dismantle cap-and-trade is being criticized for acting without authority to do so as government-in-waiting.
After an election but before the swearing-in of a new government, the old government is in stagnancy mode. The Legislature had not yet reopened, there is no speaker and old ministers keep their portfolio until replaced by a fresh batch. The focus of bureaucrats is to prepare briefing notes for incoming ministers and act as caretakers, subject to emergencies.
So, did Ford jump the gun? (He also ordered that free lunches and coffees at government meetings, discretionary spending and out-of-province trips be suspended.)
The answer is that Ford could not have decreed what he did without the co-operation of Wynne who would have ok’d the head of the public service Steve Orsini to dismantle cap-and-trade and lift some bureaucratic perks.
Why would Wynne allow one of her pet projects to be cancelled so abruptly? Perhaps because she was keeping her word of co-operating fully with the new Ford government out of the goodness of her heart? But seeing the Liberals in action for the last 15 years show them to be ruthlessly partisan to a fault.
So why play nice now and give a leg up to Ford?
A cynical observer could well conclude that Wynne, having no party status and grovelling to Ford for an exception to be recognized in the Legislature as a party and receive the funding that comes with it, was playing by Ford’s rule book to get that favour in return.
If I were Ford, I’d accept her help to move his agenda fast, but would require her to spend time in purgatory. Wynne needs to reflect for a few years on the considerable damage she’s done to the province in her 15 years of governing. It might take a decade or more to recover. Here’s a few things she could ruminate on: Out of control debt, gas plant fiasco, e-health disaster and hydro hell. Maybe then Ford could consider helping her out.