For(d) The People
Besides the piece I wrote about the first debate of this year’s election campaign and their leadership race, I haven't really said too much about the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party. First of all, after the Patrick Brown scandal back at the beginning of 2018, former Toronto city councillor Doug Ford won the leadership race by a narrow margin. It was a very close race between him and what I believed was the favourite Christine Elliott. I really wasn’t that surprised that Ford won, and I wasn't that upset about it either. I know I had said that I was hoping for Elliott to win the PC leadership, and I did vote for her first on my ballot followed by Mulroney, Ford was my third choice. Not because I didn't like him or that I didn't believe that he would be a bad face of the party, but because I know how Kathleen Wynne campaigns (and already has started with attack ads), and I thought because of how uncensored Doug’s late brother Rob Ford (who I was a big fan of, being raised in Scarborough and casting my first vote in a democratic election for) was that he’d be an easy target to attack. So far I’ve been proven wrong about that. Wynne has been on social media, rallies and in interviews saying that Ford is the Donald Trump of Canada, and I've seen the “Real Doug Ford” attack ad a number of times during the NHL playoffs. Her co-chair to her upcoming campaign even insulted Ford on television, calling him a dick. All of which hasn't stirred any negative reaction from the Progressive Conservative leader. Wynne keeps calling him a bully, but so far has only painted herself as one.
This is going to be my first election campaign piece of three main parties (I'm sorry to any Green Party supporters, but until they start having a viable chance at winning, I don't consider them any more of a contender than the Libertarian Party). You would have thought that my previous post, Kathleen Wynnphry, was a campaign piece, but don't forget that what I discussed in that was just the budget despite the feeling that she's trying to buy votes already. I will go over what Ford and the PCs have told us they will run on so far in this piece, and I will update you when a full platform is released. A few weeks ago, the PCs announced that instead of releasing an election platform all at once, they would be slowly announcing their plans one by one. Before the beginning of the campaign, the PC Party announced that instead of releasing one big platform, like Patrick Brown had done, they would instead release their five main platform pieces periodically. The PCs have titled their 2018 campaign “For the People.”
On the Progressive Conservative Party’s website, they have four main election promises as of May 21st. Those are to audit Kathleen Wynne’s government, to eliminate income tax for people who earn minimum wage, to fix the hydro mess in Ontario, and to lower gas prices by 10 cents across the province. There have been other hints to what Doug Ford plans on doing if elected as Premier, and I will go over those as well. First, I think I should go over what the PC’s website has said thus far.
The PC’s website, as well as the Party leader in the media, says that on his first day as Premier Ford will audit Kathleen Wynne and her Liberal government. The announcement followed news that former chief of staff to Wynne’s predecessor, Dalton McGuinty, was found guilty for wiping computer hard drives clean of information regarding to the gas plant scandal. In order to hold onto ridings that were upset about two planned gas plants during the 2011 provincial election, McGuinty cancelled the plans for the plants. It cost the province an estimated $1.1 billion dollars. In order to hide the fact that the Liberals had cancelled the plants, McGuinty’s chief of staff David Livingston deleted emails and computer files that put the blame on them, and for that was sentenced to four months in prison (although he is already out on bail). Ford and the Progressive Conservatives also cited auditor general Bonnie Lysyk, who claims that the Wynne government has been using shady accounting practices to hide their spending. At the end of April, Lysyk found that the Liberal’s 2018 budget lied about how high the deficit for the year would be, and found that is going to be 75% more than the announced $6.7 billion. The Financial Accountability Office’s chief economist David West echoed Lysyk’s statement, saying that Wynne’s spending is not sustainable. In my Kathleen Wynnephry post, I go over the budget and explain the deficit disagreement more thoroughly. But what matters is that it only added fuel to Ford’s auditing fire. He said that had Wynne used those accounting practices in her private life, she would be with Livingston in prison, and that Ontario deserves to see how big the financial mess McGuinty and Wynne have created is. I believe that this is a great idea, and that it is one of - if not the number one - biggest grievance Ontario voters have with the Wynne government.
Once the idea of auditing Wynne's government was announced, Wynne began using tactics that everyone knew she would use. Wynne and a number of left-leaning media outlets are claiming that Doug Ford is exactly like the United States’ president, Donald Trump. Of course, this is wrong. Ford may be what some people are calling a populist, and Trump is no doubt a populist, however they are very different even under the same label. Trump ran a populist campaign that was xenophobic against Mexicans and Muslims, and was a complete political outsider. Ford’s genre of populism is very different and much more acceptable. He is not using the fear of others to justify his plan, he is using Ontario’s record high and growing dislike of Wynne and her government to justify his claims. But that didn’t stop Kathleen Wynne from desperately making the comparison. She claimed that when Ford said that she would be criminally charged had she used accounting tactics like she had with tax dollars in her personal life, he all but chanted “lock her up”, a slogan that Trump used (correctly) against Hillary Clinton in the 2016 American election. Wynne continued by calling Ford a bully who trades in slander and lies. I find it funny that Kathleen Wynne, someone who was the first to start attack ads and has been caught in a number of lies within the last couple of months, has the audacity to call someone else a liar and a bully. For example, Wynne’s co-chair for her campaign David Herle just had to apologize for calling Doug Ford “a bit of a dick” on live television. And when I say apologize, I mean he pretty much said that he’s sorry but Ford deserves it. Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, Ms. Wynne.
The next big plan that Doug Ford has announced through the PC website is that they will eliminate income tax for people who are making minimum wage. He had already said that he would eliminate the provincial income tax for people that make less than $30,000 a year, so I think this was a way to have more people encompassed by the same policy change. The plan is to create a tax credit for those who are making minimum wage, and that it will cost the province about half of a billion dollars a year. Ford believes that he could have this tax credit implemented by next January. This flies directly in the face of what Kathleen Wynne has said about Ford in regards to the lower classes of Ontario. She had said that he will take the minimum wage hike that she’s implemented, and help the rich business owners get richer. While she is somewhat right about the latter, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Ford has vowed to cut the provincial corporate tax rate from 11.5% to 10.5%, claiming that thanks to the 15 years of Liberal governing Ontario has lost 300,000 manufacturing jobs to cheaper markets. Having less corporate tax means that companies are more likely to hire more employees, and potentially reinvigorate Ontario’s once-great manufacturing sector. Seeing as I’m not a socialist, I’m not against wealthy people holding onto their money, and don’t believe that private businesses are terrible entities so long as they use that extra income to hire more people. As for the minimum wage, Ford said that he would prevent the wage increase from going from $14 to $15 in 2019. But $14 for minimum wage is still a high minimum wage, and coupled with not having to pay income tax means that people who make minimum wage have more to take home. It also stops more companies from cutting employee numbers down, closing their doors and raising their prices more than they already have since Wynne increased the wage at the beginning of 2018.
As everyone in Ontario knows all too well, our hydro rates have increased dramatically under the McGuinty-Wynne government. The hydro rates have already increased more in Ontario than any other province. In 2016 customers paid 71% more per month than they did in 2008. The national average of electricity price increases was only 32% in the same time frame. And that is Ontario versus the national average. It gets even more frustrating when you compare major cities across the country. Residents in Quebec, Alberta, and British Columbia paid far less than those in Ontario. In 2016, the average hydro bill in Toronto was $201, the highest average monthly hydro bill in the entire country. Compare that to the monthly average of $83 in Montreal, around $110 in Calgary and Edmonton, and $114 in Vancouver. To make matters worse, in 2017 Wynne’s Liberal government announced that there are even higher hydro prices on the horizon. They told us that the average Ontario hydro bill will go up by 43%, from $127 in 2017 to $181 by 2027. But don’t worry, the Liberals said that it would even out by 2030 at $200 a month. It’s outrageous that the provincial average will be the equal to that of the country’s most expensive city. If you live in Toronto, or close to it, I would not be surprised if your month hydro bill is closer to $300, based on the provincial average in 2017 compared to the price of the average Torontonian’s bill. And the root cause to these insane prices and increases is Kathleen Wynne’s “Fair” Hydro Plan. Last year, she promised that the provincial government would lower hydro across Ontario by 25%. Now, as I’m sure as most of you already know, that plan doesn’t make any sense. In order to make those cuts (over only four years), the provincial government will take on an additional $26 billion in debt. In addition to the debt that Wynne is putting on our shoulders, she is also expecting hydro customers to pay off that debt through steady increases in hydro rates over the thirty years following the cuts. Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk (that’s right, the same Bonnie Lysyk that is criticising Wynne’s 2018 budget) has already said that this plan is guilty of improper accounting, so that the additional debt and deficits won’t show up in the province’s financial books. She also said that because the Liberal government is borrowing $26 billion from Ontario Power Generation, tax payers will be paying an additional $4 billion through interest, saying “you wouldn’t see this anywhere else in Canada.” And she’s absolutely right, you wouldn’t because every other province and territory in Canada is lucky enough to not be stuck with Kathleen Wynne as their Premier.
Doug Ford plans on lowering the cost of hydro by using the Fair Hydro Plan, but modifying it to make it true to its name. He wants to lower bills 12% on top of the 25% already in place. He says that the way Kathleen Wynne has done it is unfair to the taxpayer. The way he will lower hydro prices in Ontario is by returning the money it makes through the government’s shares in Hydro One back to ratepayers. This is a better way to go about lowering prices, because it avoids the province going deeper in debt. PC energy critic Todd Smith said that if they win, a PC government would face a very difficult challenges if it wished to alter the Liberal Fair Hydro Plan, because of the complexities involved with how the provincial government has borrowed the money, and how it intends on paying back that debt. Smith (with the backing of both the Auditor General and the Financial Accountability Officer) said that the Wynne government created this complicated system to keep the increase of debt and the deficit off of the books.
The last promise on the Progressive Conservative website is that Ford will reduce the price of gas by 10 cents a litre. He plans on doing that by scraping both the cap-and-trade system and the provincial fuel tax. As of right now, the fuel tax adds 14.7 cents for gas and 14.3 cents per litre. Ford plans on reducing the tax on gasoline and diesel to 9 cents per litre. By eliminating the provincial cap-and-trade carbon pricing scheme, Ford says a PC government can reduce fuel by a further 4.3 cents a litre. By scraping the cap-and-trade system, the mandate by Trudeau’s federal government will come into effect at the end of 2018. That means that any province that has not implemented a carbon pricing plan will be subjected to a federal carbon tax. Ford has vowed to fight the carbon tax since the day he threw his hat in for the PC leadership, and is continuing to say it after his gas price announcement. Ford has said that if the Prime Minister tries to force the tax on Ontario, he will take Trudeau’s government to court. And he isn’t the only one; Saskatchewan’s Premier Scott Moe has already begun down that road by questioning the federal government’s jurisdiction in carbon pricing, as well as the United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney, who’s gaining in popularity almost entirely due to vowing to scrap Alberta’s carbon price. With this momentum, in 2019 he could very well defeat Alberta’s current NDP Premier Rachel Notley, who has said herself she is unsure if the Alberta carbon tax will be increased to match Trudeau’s demands.
Critics of Ford’s gas plan have asked how he plans on achieving the lower prices. They say that by eliminating the cap-and-trade system the province will miss out on $1.9 billion in revenue, and $2.7 billion in revenue by removing the fuel tax. He claims that by allowing people to save money every time they fill up their car, it gives them more spending room to contribute back to the economy. While he is right that people will have more money to spend on other products, I honestly don’t think that the extra spending money will contribute back to the economy at the rate of four and a half billion a year. I do believe that the cap-and-trade system as well as the fuel tax should be removed, and sure there will be a bit of money put back into the system through other taxes like HST, but it will mean that spending will be cut from another part of the budget. And you know what? I’m totally okay with it. Like I’ve said before, we need to cut down the spending in the various bureaucracies. The number of public sector jobs in Ontario are going up, while the private sector’s are going down. The government’s role isn’t to be an employer. It’s supposed to boost the private sector’s ability to create more jobs. So as some public sector bureaucratic workers retire, maybe it’s time for the government to think if it should hire someone to fill the spot, or should they split the duties of that job up amongst other highly paid public employees. So long as the bureaucracies are the ones getting the cuts, and not the front line workers like teachers, nurses and police officers, I think it’s a great idea.
So that’s all of the proposals on the PC website, but there have been a number of other ideas put forward by Doug Ford. One of those issues has been to change how the government will legalize the sale of marijuana. As of right now, Wynne’s plan is to open 150 stores over the next few years, and give them a monopoly on marijuana. Back in March, after winning the leadership, Ford said that he was open to the free market having access to marijuana. I really liked this idea, because I believe when the government gets involved in anything they do a terrible job. Since then, Ford has altered his stance slightly. In the City TV debate at the beginning of May, he said he would allow marijuana be sold in the LCBO, as the infrastructure to do so is already in place. Wynne has criticized both of these ideas, and tried to use scare-tactics. She said that Ford would allow marijuana to be sold in “every corner store next to candy bars.” This just doesn’t make sense. This is the same person who has begun the transition into a freer market for alcohol, allowing beer to be sold in grocery stores literally next to candy bars and potato chips. It also doesn’t make sense because tobacco products are sold in every single gas station, convenience store, and a number of grocery stores. So if marijuana was to be sold in “every corner store”, it would be sold behind the counter like every store already sells tobacco. But if Ford wants to open it up entirely, or allow it to be sold in the LCBO, I am absolutely for that.
During his leadership campaign, Ford was quick to say that he would reopen up the debate regarding the updated sexual education curriculum. Wynne’s government oversaw the curriculum be changed back in 2015, and it was a controversial change at the time. It was the first update to the sexual education curriculum since 1998. Ford claims that Wynne did not consult enough parents before adding a lot to the curriculum. Wynne denies those accusations, saying that over 4,000 parents, child professionals, psychologists and teachers were consulted before making those changes. I don’t believe that 4,000 qualifies as enough people participating in such a major change in something so important. I think that the minimum number of people involved should have been 10,000 or more. And I would like to know where Wynne found these 4,000 people; was it going door to door asking every day people across the province, or was it at one of her famous cash-for-access dinners for Liberal supporters in her Toronto riding? Ford’s proposed discussing the curriculum and any potential changes with parents and teachers as well. If Wynne is telling the truth, he should get the same answers across the province as she allegedly has, and there won’t be any changes. But as Ontarians have come to learn, Wynne and truthfulness aren’t normally used in the same sentence.
Being 25, I can still remember how I was educated about sex in public school. It didn’t begin until grade five, where the concept of puberty was introduced. Grade six was basically the same, while grade seven and eight added safe sex practices and masterbation. After that, grade nine was pretty much a refresher course on the previous four years. Throughout the entire curriculum, it was never taken too seriously by either the students or the teachers (in my opinion), and the older the students got the more immature we would be when words like “penis” were used.
While I am a conservative, I’m not necessarily a social conservative. As I’ve said before, I believe in women’s rights and I’m not religious, although I respect the rights of people to believe in their desired religion. I just can’t get behind the belief system, but I do understand that Western societies are as successful as they are today largely due to the societal norms religion created. So there are a lot of changes that Wynne made to the curriculum that I do agree with. For one, kids in grades one and two will be taught the proper names for their body parts and the concept of consent, respectively. I don’t believe age should be a factor in teaching children what their body parts are called. The penis or vagina are with them their entire lives, they should know what they’re called and what they do. And teaching children what consent means and how important it is at a younger age is a great idea. It’s important that they know that no means no. I do see where social conservatives are coming from with their concern here, but there are parents out there who aren’t actively teaching their children these important life lessons.
In grade three is where I disagree the most with the curriculum. In grade three, children will learn what gender identity is, and that sexual orientation is one of the characteristics that can be used to distinguish people from others. What I don’t like about this is the gender identity part. Children are going to be taught that they don’t have to identify as the gender (to kids that age gender is synonymous with biological sex) that they were born as. I’m okay with discussing gender identity, but at an older age. Kids are being taught that they can change their gender before they even hit puberty. I think that it can cause a lot of problems, because it can potentially confuse kids more than they already are as they go through puberty. The sexual orientation part of grade three I like, it’s important to teach children that it’s okay to love whoever you want. Puberty doesn’t enter the curriculum until grades four and five. If they want to teach gender identity and the complexities behind it, it should come after children learn that their bodies will go through a massive transformation as they get older. Kids in grade six will learn about sex, masterbation, and gender expression. The gender expression part here doesn’t worry me so much, because it is being taught after kids have learned about puberty and the ways their body and sexual intuition will change. And as far as learning about sexual intercourse and masterbation in grade six, I’m totally okay with that. I know it’s anecdotal, but I know there were kids in my middle school in grade seven that were sexual active, and they weren’t smart about it. Learning what sex is and that masterbation is okay could have helped those kids be smarter. In grade seven and eight, students will learn about contraception, sexual transmitted infections, as well as anal and oral sex.
As far as I’m concerned, the curriculum isn’t as horrible as a lot of social conservatives believe. I can see where they are coming from, mainly because they think that it will make kids sexually active at a younger age. But I don’t see it as that. With social media, snapchat, and Internet access, I think it’s important that kids learn the do’s and don'ts of being sexually active. The curriculum also teaches about the dangers of online bullying and sharing sexual explicit images on the Internet. My only concern is the gender expression and identity parts of the updated curriculum. And before social justice warriors label me “transphobic”, I am entirely for people going through transition, or identifying as another gender (although I don’t agree with all aspects of Bill C-16 and the 72 genders that come along with it). I just believe that it should come after learning about puberty and all of the changes their bodies will go through. But there is one more thing about this new curriculum that Ford, the PCs, and social conservatives fail to mention, so I will here. If parents are unhappy with the changes, they can opt to take their children out of that part of the health curriculum. That is a very good addition, so long as those parents are taking the time to properly teach their kids about growing up and sexual interactions. So we’ll see if Ford will follow through with reopening this debate. As I’ve said before, if Wynne was honest about talking to parents of all belief systems, when Ford does the same there won’t be too many changes if any at all.
Finally, Ford has some propositions that will help Northern Ontario residents, and I’m very happy about these. His commitments to the north begin with pledging to develop Ontario’s northern resources, including the “Ring of Fire.” It is one of Ontario’s richest mineral deposits, located close to James Bay. Developing the area will impact nine First Nations groups, so development will require a lot of discussion with the people who would be effective. But I think if the mining companies respect the rights of First Nations communities, give them jobs and training before anyone else, and pay them well, that the Ontario government could benefit from the mineral resources and the communities could benefit from high paying jobs. Ford has promised to move forward with the resource revenue sharing, which would help northern and First Nations communities share in the development of resources. He’s also promised to make sure the revenues from fishing and hunting go towards the intended conservation efforts. The last two promises I am a big fan of, albeit a bit selfishly. They are bringing back a northern passenger rail service, as well as cutting the aviation fuel tax on flights going to the North. These will lower the cost of living for people up north, as well make it easier to travel up there. I go up to a cottage an hour north of Sault Saint Marie a few times a year, and the eleven and a half hour drive is takes a toll. If I had the option to take a train, or fly for a cheaper price, I would take them.
As the election approaches, more campaign promises will be announced from the Progressive Conservatives, as well as the Liberals and the NDP. I hope that by reading this, you understand what the PCs intend on doing if (or when most likely) they become the government of Ontario. As of writing this conclusion, the PCs and the NDP are tied at 37% in the polls. So it’s going to be a nail biter right up until the end. Because the NDP are the top contender with Doug Ford and the Progressive Conservatives, I will be writing a piece on their platform next. Don’t forget to follow The Honest Canuck on Twitter and Instagram, @thehonestcanuck, to keep updated on how the Ontario election is going.