TORONTO - Doug Ford missed a golden opportunity to “one-up” Kathleen Wynne (or, for that matter, Andrea Horwath) on Speech from the Throne day. It is surprising for a politician whose stock-in-trade is gimmick politics and glib one-liners.
I half expected that he and his team would have boycotted the Legislature and delivered the “PC Plan for Ontario”, in his own forum, like, say, the Toronto Convention Center in Etobicoke. Heck, even the NDP delivered a partial hit by announcing an expanded Pharmacare program to steal some of the Liberal thunder during the day.
Ford had no Plan to announce, at least not yet.
In the meantime, the only thing that seems to resonate is stoking the fires of visceral antipathy towards Kathleen Wynne and a promise to give away money via tax cuts. How much and to whom is another matter.
I made my way up to the riding of Etobicoke North, where the PCs promised that Doug Ford would inspire the faithful with an “alternative Throne Speech” in a “Unity Rally”.
Every Press and Media outlet in Christendom, and several other Religious kingdoms did the same.
Good thing for the organizers because the Media platform, along with the tables interspersed around the cavernous hall, compressed space thus conveying the impression that there were more attendees than one could actually count – about a thousand, for those interested in the numbers.
It is, nonetheless, a significant number, equal to approximately 20 people from each riding in the GTA. They could have had more if they had explicitly written that the invitation was intended to include women.
It is an oversight that extended to current MPPs and nominated candidates. One of the latter, a former colleague and MP, Daryl Kramp, travelled some 300 kilometres from Eastern Ontario for the event.
Had we not exchanged pleasantries, he would have been discarded into the dustbin of obscure oblivion reserved for all the other members of the PC team.
Elliott, Mulroney and Granic-Allen were exceptions to that rule. They were welcomed on stage but not allowed to speak. A co-mcee, MPP MacLeod, chirped about how Premier Wynne’s days were numbered.
That appears to be the election campaign theme – and the sum total of the campaign platform, to this point. Facts, ideas and “inconsistencies” necessarily take second place.
For example, on the economic side of a [nebulous] Plan, Ford bemoaned the lack of investment in the exploitation of Natural resources and the loss of 300, 000 manufacturing in the last 15 years. “300,000 families” relegated to the lower rungs of economic well-being, he added for effect.
Sounds good, if one ignores the fact that unemployment is at record low levels. The construction, agri-production and hotel service industries thrive only because they rely on an army of undocumented [illegal, foreign] workers estimated at 500,000 in Ontario, according to sources at Human Resources Canada.
During the same period, Ontario has welcomed more than 1.5 million New Canadian immigrants, the vast majority of them creating and filling jobs in the GTHA – just as the Ford family business retreated to Chicago to create 50 jobs.
Minor issues. The campaign has 79 days to go. Doug Ford’s handlers may have to change tactics. This will not be like a typical municipal election. Substance does matter. Otherwise, the electorate and pundits will look at “form.” It’s a less enduring substitute.
If the candidate is an asset, the Party and the campaign has to make better use of him/her. After 12 minutes of “sloganeering”, Doug Ford was done. That’s all folks.
Everyone made a mad rush for the doors, which suddenly seemed to play the role of huge suction tubes.