The party calls itself the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario. That's a lie. Bob Hepburn writes that, in the 100 days since Doug Ford took office, he and his party have taken a hard turn to the right:
We’ve already seen the first stages of Ford’s agenda, with his moves to slash the size of Toronto City Council, cancel the basic income test program, axe the scheduled move to a $15-an-hour minimum wage and scrap Ontario’s participation in the federal carbon pricing program.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
In the coming weeks, Ford is expected to make major changes in social support programs, and slash the senior bureaucratic ranks in the health and education ministries. Some fear the education cuts may be so deep that they spark teacher strikes in early 2019.
Fire sales may be held for the LCBO, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation and Ontario Power Generation. Also on the possible chopping block are eHealth and dozens of agencies, boards and commissions. Agencies such as Cancer Care Ontario could well see funding cuts of up to 40 per cent.
This, in addition to Ford’s announcement this week that he is “getting rid” of the Wynne government’s labour reforms that increased sick day benefits, paid vacation entitlements and protection for temp. agency workers.
Taking their cue from the Republican judicial coup that has just taken place south of the border, the Fordians are moving fast, hoping that their government -- which bills itself "for the people" -- will get what they want before voters understand what's going on. But "the people" are quickly souring on Mr. Ford:
When Patrick Brown stepped down suddenly as leader in late January, polls showed the Tories backed by 43 per cent of voters. For much of Brown’s last year as leader, the party had a 20 percentage point lead over its nearest party rival.
As leader, Brown worked to make the party more mainstream, leading the Conservatives to support the federal climate change program, accepting same-sex rights and reducing Islamophobia within the party.
In mid-February, when the Tories had no permanent leader, they were supported by 49 per cent of voters, according to a Forum Research poll. On election day, the Ford-led Tories captured 40.5 per cent of the votes, winning enough seats to form a solid major government.
Today, three months later, Ford’s approval rating is already down to 37 per cent, according to a DART Insight survey. That surely makes Ford one of the few political leaders never to experience a traditional “honeymoon period” when their popularity rises in the months immediately after an election.
Unfortunately, it will be four years before the divorce decree becomes official.
Image: Global News