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Doug Ford: Justin Trudeau’s ace-in-the-hole for re-election

Doug Ford: Justin Trudeau’s ace-in-the-hole for re-election

TORONTO – No, I’m not “tripping”. Doug Ford’s Conservative brand of government has emerged as Justin Trudeau’s biggest asset in the run-up to the October federal election.

The sound you hear in the background is that of “rightwing” talk show hosts (are there any other types?) going apoplectic on air.

The truth is that as long as Ford Nation continues to set itself up as an antidote to Justinian Trudeauism, the public will be treated to invitations of comparisons that will be less than flattering for the Conservative alternative to the current Prime Minister.

Andrew Sheer may not like the “guilt by association” that the public will foist on his evolving public persona.

Pollara, one of the more reliable public polling companies, with a well-earned reputation for precision in commercial and political polling, conducted a survey to assess the public’s receptivity to Progressive Conservative policies and initiatives nine months into their mandate as a majority government in Ontario. The findings are not pretty.

The survey of 1,527 respondents (April 28- May 1, reported May 16) divides the province into five geographic sub-areas with statistically relevant respondents: Toronto, 905 GTA Belt, Hamilton- Niagara, Southwest, East and North. Only in the 905 GTA Belt are the PCs still clearly in the lead. They are one point ahead in the Southwest. They are running THIRD everywhere else behind the Liberals have only an interim leader and not posessed of official party status.

A discontent with the government of Ontario’s policies is developing at a rate that should be disquieting for those PC supporters. That is not happening only among recalcitrant NDPers, bitter Liberals or Green ideologues. In fact, only 30% (a mere 9.7% of it strongly) of the electorate approves of Ford Nation’s performance.

Sixty four percent (64%) disapprove and six percent don’t know. This should be troubling for Ford and disconcerting for the rah-rah types who vote according to herd instincts that infect citizens of all political stripes.

The poll suggests that the electorate is beginning to turn its attention back onto the issues that withstand scrutiny.

Pollara found that only 21% of those who voted PC in 2018 did so because they liked Ford. More likely reasons for voting PC were to “get rid of Wynne” (70%) and it was “time for a change”.

Wynne is gone. The change has not come without apparent damage: buyer’s remorse is beginning to set in, except among the 25% of the electorate that “always voted PC”.

That 25% figure also represents how much the PCs have lost in popular support since last June. It should come as no surprise as the public is increasingly treated to cuts in health care, education and Municipal budgets – after the appropriate jurisdictions debated and approved expenditures.

When Ford was booed at a Special Olympics event, last week, the occasion will have brought a smile on Trudeau’s face and a wince on Andrew Sheer’s. Ford has begun to embody all the negatives (cuts to community and social building infrastructures) and nastiness associated with insensitive, unthinking even meanspirited partisanship.

Politicians associate with models of such qualities at their own peril.

Trudeau’s recent maladroit behaviour seems almost harmless by comparison.

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