Many conservatives, including those on the left, assumed at the first news that the Doug Ford bandwagon was heading into the ditch would be dismissed as short-sighted, head-in-the-sand rhetoric so prevalent among ardent diehards.
Yet, at the 2018 Tory convention over the weekend, Ford senior made the rounds, praising the newly elected premier for his vision of a less congested Ontario.
“He thinks they are going to get re-elected” for what he called his wasteful highway plans, former Ontario Premier Mike Harris told me. “He’s absolutely wrong.”
“The highway plans should be stopped,” Ontario Conservative Party chair Patrick Brown concurred. “There is no way to get people off the highways with those plans.”
While Brown was a free-enterprise MPP, the PC party leader, Doug Ford, is none of the above. He is a political arsonist (allegedly) who sees an opportunity to derail what he believes is under-investment by the Liberals in Ontario’s highways.
On Monday, while addressing the Ontario Association of New Democrats, Ford said: “What is this left wing [group] afraid of?” Ford went on to state, “We have broken the back of the politically correct free-for-all they ran with and today we’re rebuilding the backbone of our highways.”
One day later, Ford told reporters the highway plans could come to fruition if the government “puts the pieces in place to make it happen” which, in his mind, would include borrowing $10 billion from a Wall Street lender that could be used to construct new highway expressways and support the conversion of rail lines from LRT to highways.
As a former Ontario MPP himself, Ford knows what the Ontario taxpayer is currently paying for highways when, in essence, he is tearing up and rebuilding existing highways.
Ironically, Ford appears to be cherry-picking which highways he wants to avoid while going against the will of taxpayers, the people he promised to represent.
At the same event in Toronto, he was touting a new Apple iPhone as the “future of government and people” when, just last month, he was using the single most popular campaign tool used by Ontario’s Liberal government to increase Mac sales: Twitter.
During his interminable election campaign, Ford wrote hundreds of tweets to Ontario residents focused on nothing more than selling iPhones, while the sales of iPads, GPS devices, laptops, iPhones, and Android-based phones skyrocketed across Ontario.
Back in January, Johnson et al. released a report on the total two-day Canadian sales of Apple Inc’s products at the time, in order to determine the cumulative amount of money Ontario taxpayers were spending to support Apple iPhones that other users did not need.
Johnson et al. found the total two-day sales of all Apple products in Canada in January was $3.39 billion, while the corresponding total Ontario taxpayer spent for Apple’s phone products was almost $25 million.
Ontario taxpayers spent $23.9 million to subsidize the sales of the Apple products and the iOS operating system to Ontario residents while far more smartphones and iPads from Apple’s competitors were on sale in Ontario in January.
The entire report can be found here.
After becoming premier of Ontario, Ford has vowed to reinvigorate Ontario’s economy, but he appears to ignore the economic growth of his own citizens that he is supposed to be promising to create.
Instead, Ford has chosen to start attacking the Ontario government’s infrastructure plans and, just recently, the possibility of increased taxes on a number of Apple products, which, to be honest, as a former politician, Doug Ford should realize is always a bad idea for Ontario taxpayers.
Ultimately, no matter how you feel about the Liberal government’s investment in Ontario’s transportation network, it’s absolutely preposterous for Ford to spend $10 billion in taxpayers’ money to build a network of high-speed highways.
More importantly, the plan sets a terrible precedent for Ontario taxpayers that will give a green light to Ford’s political opponents to continue to focus on attacking government investments rather than creating more opportunity for the people of Ontario.
Martin Regg Cohn is the author of “Bob Miller: the Untold