Ford's Selection sets up Election Showdown
The nature of the Ontario June 7, 2018 election is now clearer with Doug Ford emerging as leader of the Ontario PC party. With a double digit lead in the polls, Ford offers a sharp contrast to the Wynne government. The Liberals carry over 14 years of baggage into the election that has caused a large majority of voters to look for an alternative. The prime issue in the election won’t be change, but whether Ford can deliver the change that voters desire. Smaller government and tax cuts as a platform focus is divisive but it contrasts with a big spending approach and a large deficit that has been championed by the Liberals.
This Wednesday, Finance Minister Sousa will present an election budget that will focus on improving services and set up the Liberal campaign platform. Campaign budgets are very different in that the new policy and program proposals are only implemented if the governing Party is re-elected. The activities of this legislature are now almost exclusively focused on the election. The government may be tempted to close it down early, drop the writ and get on with the official campaign.
The big unknown is the PC platform. Doug Ford campaigned for his Party's leadership on fiscal conservatism and smaller government, in direct contrast to the platform presented by Patrick Brown and his campaign team last year. No carbon tax leaves the treasury drained of revenues and with a massive deficit, there is only so much fat to cut before you begin to reduce services.
Then there is Infrastructure Investment. The Liberals big spending includes a long term plan to "Build Ontario Up,” but the big cost to the Ontario Treasury will make it an obvious target for a government needing to reduce spending.
If the PCs come to power in June, the OGCA and our supporters in the CDAO and other organizations will need to respond quickly to win support and conviction that long term commitment to infrastructure spending is a requirement for our economic growth.