Ontario Progressive Conservative party leadership candidate Doug Ford said Saturday morning he could envision a Ford-led Ontario and Jason Kenney-led Alberta working together to rid the land of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's plan to make polluters pay.
“Carbon tax is a terrible, terrible tax. I don’t even know why they put the word carbon in front of it. I don’t. It’s just a tax, a tax is a tax,” Ford said, winning a round of applause from the group of conservatives gathered at the Shaw Centre in downtown Ottawa Saturday morning for the Manning Networking Conference.
“I’m excited for my friend Jason Kenney to get elected, at least we’ll be on (the same) side.”
Kenney, a former cabinet minister in Stephen Harper’s government, is the new leader of the United Conservative Party in Alberta. He is expected to be NDP Premier Rachel Notley’s toughest opponent during a provincial election in 2019.
When asked, Ford said he could see the two “powerful provinces” taking the matter to court.
“If we have to do it, we have to do it. We’ll do whatever it takes to make sure our businesses are competitive,” he said. “The prime minister’s hurting businesses in this country by giving them an unnecessary tax.”
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe also told the weekend conference that he was opposed to Trudeau's plan.
"Spotlight on Ontario"
Ford made his remarks at an event dubbed “Spotlight on Ontario” which, through the weekend, is introducing declared candidates for the provincial Progressive Conservative party.
Ford is a former Toronto city councillor, mayoral candidate, and brother to former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.
But he wasn't the only leadership candidate complaining about carbon taxes. On Friday, Caroline Mulroney said she was also against new taxes. And later on Saturday, it was Christine Elliott's turn.
“We’re conservatives, we don’t want more taxes and we’ve heard from people across Ontario that life is already unaffordable,” said Elliott, who is now in her third race to lead the provincial Tories after losing in the last two campaigns. “To put another tax on top of that is going to be really not good for our party.”
None of the three candidates have proposed a comprehensive plan to address carbon pollution and climate change.
Tory vote next month
Ontario Tories will choose their new leader next month. An Ontario-wide election is expected to pit the victor against Premier Kathleen Wynne soon after.
Patrick Brown resigned as Ontario PC leader late last month after being accused of sexual misconduct in incidents dating back years.
In an interview published Saturday, he called the allegations "absolute lies" and said he is contemplating legal action. Elliott said if Brown can clear his name, he can run for the party in the next election. She said Brown has the right to defend himself and if he's able to clear his name, she'd have no problem with him as a candidate. National Observer has not independently verified allegations against Brown.
But Elliott also said Saturday that people should vote for her because she will know what to do from Day 1.
“I think experience in this campaign is so important, because I would be able to step right into an election campaign,” Elliott said.
She spoke of listening closely to the party, allowing free votes on matters of conscience, and re-opening Ontario’s sex-ed curriculum to public consultation.
Elliott’s husband Jim Flaherty, who died in 2014, was finance minister in both Stephen Harper’s federal and Mike Harris’s provincial governments.
“I think he would probably shake his head at me,” Elliott said, when asked what advice she thought Flaherty might have given her for this campaign. “But I know he would be supportive. He would want me to do it, because he would realize that it’s really important for the entire province that the Progressive Conservative party has to win the next election.”
Ford, who was defeated in Toronto's municipal election in 2014 by current Mayor John Tory, said he could do more as provincial premier than at city hall.
"I have a passion for Toronto and the rest of Ontario," he said Saturday. "I don’t just focus on Toronto, I focus on all of Ontario. I think that all of Ontario is in real trouble (under) the Liberal regime.”
He also addressed having announced his leadership run from his mother's basement, describing it as "a conservative hub."
Ford's father, Doug Ford Sr., was a member of former premier Mike Harris's Progressive Conservative government.
— with files from The Canadian Press