Throughout the election campaign, Justin Trudeau has been linking Andrew Scheer to Doug Ford. Scheer's response has been to keep Ford under wraps. But Trudeau's comparison isn't frivolous. When it comes to policy, Bob Hepburn writes, Ford and Scheer are twins:
First, they both want to kill the federal carbon tax and replace it with incentives, and in some cases fines, for polluters to clean up their dirty emissions. Ford is fighting the carbon tax in the courts and has ordered anti-tax stickers on all gas pumps. Scheer has vowed to repeal the tax and instead invest in more green technology.
Second, they both propose massive reductions in government spending — and all the time trying to insist that cuts worth billions of dollars won’t actually hurt anyone. Scheer plans to cut $18 billion from much-needed infrastructure spending, slash foreign aid by 25 per cent, cancel government help for struggling businesses, freeze government hiring and cut unspecified “nonpersonnel operating expenses.”
In his first months in office, Ford took a similar approach, slashing everything from student aid to child-care funding, legal aid and tree planting.
Third, they both oppose a national pharmacare plan. Scheer believes a better way to ensure Canadians have access to necessary drugs is to plug coverage gap for people without provincial or employer plans. Ford has already killed a provincial plan that provided free prescriptions drugs to young Ontario residents up to the age of 24.
Fourth, they both aren’t keen on raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Ford has already cancelled a planned hike in Ontario and Scheer prefers tax breaks for lower-paid workers.
Fifth, they both oppose a national ban on handguns, suggesting a better way to fight gun violence is to get tough on gangs with stiffer jail sentences for convicted criminals in gun-related cases.
Sixth, they both love oil pipelines. Scheer has pledged to revive the Energy East pipeline proposal, which would carry oil from western Canada to eastern Canada. Ford has publicly declared support for pipeline projects, including Energy East.
Seventh, they both want to crack down on irregular border crossers and enforce a more vigilant immigration policy. Scheer wants to hire more border guards, close “legal loopholes” dealing with refugees and focus on suspected organized crime members, although there’s little evidence that’s a problem. Ford has attacked “illegal border crossers,” slashed government funding on legal support for refugees and has suggested Ontario has to “take care of our own” before pushing for immigrants to move there.
At the same time, the ties between the pair go even deeper. For example, both relied heavily on evangelicals and anti-abortion groups in winning their respective leadership races.
Those of us in Ontario know what's on Scheer's menu.
Image: The Toronto Star