So far, Doug Ford is a disappointment

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Early in his mandate, Doug Ford is already showing that “For the people” was just another empty slogan.  It would have been more honest and accurate if Ford had campaigned on “For my people”.

A month in, it looks like Doug Ford’s top priority has been to cut deals with Conservative insiders and well-connected lobbyists.

One of the first things this new Progressive Conservative government did was to announce a hiring freeze for the entire Ontario public service.  Then Doug Ford turned around and awarded a million-dollar contract to Rueben Devlin, former president of the Ontario PC party.  Sweet deal for Devlin while everyone else is frozen out.

What will Devlin do?  Find “efficiencies” in Ontario’s health services, no doubt.  The first efficiency would be to get rid of that position immediately.  Ontarians will remember that Doug Ford’s first act in health care was not to hire more nurses, train more doctors or improve long-term care.  No, it was good old blatant political patronage.

Meanwhile, Doug Ford is delivering on his promise to get rid of Hydro One’s CEO Mayo Schmidt.  On its face, it is clearly a simplistic, short-sighted move that sent Hydro One’s shares tumbling down.  And since Ontario still owns more than 282 million shares of Hydro One, it was a net loss of over $200 million.  And not surprisingly, Hydro bills have not gone down.  If not that, then what did getting rid of Hydro One’s CEO and the rest of the board achieve, if anything?  Savings of some kind, surely?

Not quite.  To say “Mission accomplished”, Ford had to cut a secret deal with Schmidt.  Ford used to call him the “Six Million Dollar Man.”  Schmidt was entitled to almost $11 million in severance, but Schmidt agreed to forego his severance entitlement to receive instead a $400,000 lump sum… and at least $9 million in incentives and stock options.

“That deal is going to take what he called the Six Million Dollar man and put him on a trajectory to be over a Nine Million Dollar man,” said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath.

Definitely not the good deal Doug Ford promised Ontarians.

Add to that the millions Ford will have to pay to compensate companies for lost cap-and-trade investments and in penalties to terminate contracts, not to mention the withdrawal of the anti-scalper rules, it’s becoming pretty clear which side Doug Ford is on early on.

And it’s not the people’s.

More from Karl Bélanger    Follow Karl Bélanger on Twitter at @KarlBelanger.

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