Doug Ford made a list of promises to the construction industry and labour leaders in the capital region on Wednesday in a rapid-fire speech that offered few specifics.
The leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party came to Gatineau, Que. on the first official day of the provincial election campaign to deliver remarks at a conference held by Canada's Building Trades Unions, which bills itself as the voice of 14 unions across dozens of occupations in construction.
Ford took no questions from media at the event on May 9. Earlier that day, he had a tense exchange with a reporter, who asked him to describe how a bill becomes law. "I know this is a gotcha question," he responded. #cdnpoli #Ontario
Ford took no questions from media at the event on May 9. Earlier that day, he had a tense exchange with a reporter, who asked him to describe how a bill becomes law. "I know this is a gotcha question," he responded.
In Gatineau, the PC leader waited until he was introduced on stage before he waded through the crowd towards the podium. Ford then gave a 13-minute speech attacking Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and promising jobs for trades workers.
“This is friendly territory to me,” said a smiling Ford, as he took the stage. “I’ve been looking forward to this event — I really have. The people you represent are the people I talk to, day in, day out...when I knock on people's doors and they tell me they're in the construction trades, there's a bond instantly.”
A Ford government would offer “more jobs and more opportunities” for these workers, he said to the crowd.
It would accomplish this in part, he said, by “scrapping the carbon tax ... the worst tax that government could ever put on the backs of the people of Ontario and right across this country,” as well as bringing hydro rates down 12 per cent and “cutting red tape and unnecessary regulations.”
“The first rule -- the top rule guiding every decision my government will make: does this work for the people, is it fair to the people?” said Ford.
He also promised a “single window access for approvals” and “hard deadlines” for construction projects. “I don’t want a parade of lobbyists and bureaucrats coming to my door,” he offered, “I want people coming to me with projects that are ready.”
Ford said Ontario workers have been “ignored” and are living in poverty, unable to pay both their heating and food bills. But he offered no specifics on how new jobs and opportunities would be created out of his efforts to get rid of Ontario’s green policies or regulations or by reducing the cost of electricity.
Instead, the rest of the speech was spent attacking the Wynne government over its handling of health care and education, saying the only people who haven't been "left behind" are “the government executives and the Liberal insiders.”
And he offered rhetorical flourish: “A new day will dawn in Ontario, a day of prosperity, a day of opportunity, and a day of growth, the likes that Ontario has never seen before...together, we will make Ontario the greatest province in this entire country.”
Ford avoids media after speech
National Observer had asked to speak with Ford concerning his earlier remarks about the Campbell’s Soup factory in Toronto closing due to government policies, but was told he had no time for questions.
At a February leadership debate, Ford said he or a member of his team had spoken to “people” at Campbell’s Soup about its factory closing. He said they replied that the plant was shutting down because it couldn’t compete due to provincial hydro and water rates, property taxes and the province’s carbon pricing regime.
In an earlier article, National Observer asked Campbell Soup and the Ford campaign if they could elaborate on the details of that meeting, but neither side has responded.
Earlier on Wednesday, Ford dismissed a question about how a bill becomes law. "You know something my friend, we can run through that," Ford responded, according to a report in Huffington Post.
"And I know this is a gotcha question and everything because that's your game — big smile on your face — but don't worry, I'm going to show you how many bills we're going to pass. We're going to pass endless bills down there and I hope you're down there to watch the bills get passed."
Voters in Ontario go to the polls just over four weeks from now, on Thursday, June 7. Ontarians can get information about when, where and how to vote, how to register and find one's voting district, and ways of accessible voting on Elections Ontario's website.