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Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s promise to hand the mayors of Toronto and Ottawa more powers could be a dangerous gateway to higher taxes and runaway government spending.

Hardworking taxpayers wouldn’t trust one person selected by someone else to unilaterally manage their household expenses and retirement savings, and yet that’s essentially what Ford might have up his sleeve for the residents of Toronto and Ottawa when it comes to the cities’ finances.

Ford has yet to officially outline all of the “strong mayor” powers he intends to give to the mayors of Toronto and Ottawa, but unilateral taxation and spending powers and mayoral vetoes appear to be on the table.

Giving mayors the power to tax and spend is courting disaster by gambling on who is in the mayor’s chair.

Take yourself back to 2009. The Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup, General Motors was still making Pontiacs and David Miller was the mayor of Toronto.

Toronto taxpayers are still scarred by the historic property tax hike Miller forced on homeowners that year. Miller managed to convince members of Toronto’s city council to impose a 10 per cent hike in property taxes.

If Miller had the power to set tax rates and spending levels unilaterally, a 10 per cent property tax hike could have ballooned even further. Toronto taxpayers could have been staring down a 15 per cent or 20 per cent hike to finance Miller’s costly government spending schemes.

Some may argue that a fiscally responsible mayor could use unilateral taxation and spending powers to keep taxes low and government spending in check.

But for every fiscally responsible mayor, there’s a David Miller. That reality means handing mayors unilateral taxation and spending powers is a terrible idea. Without city council to keep a mayor in check, there’s no telling how high taxes could be raised or how much wasteful spending could be approved.

Mayoral vetoes would raise similar concerns. Ford has said publicly that part of his “strong mayor” proposal would include a mayoral veto, which could be overridden by two-thirds of city council.

Once again, whether these new powers would be good or bad for taxpayers depends on who is in the mayor’s chair.

A fiscally responsible mayor might veto wasteful government spending proposed by council. But a mayor willing to engage in reckless spending could also veto a fiscally responsible budget plan.

There’s also another risk: mayoral candidates could sell themselves as sound managers of taxpayer dollars, but embrace runaway taxes and government spending once in office.

Toronto Mayor John Tory is a perfect example. When he ran for mayor in 2014, Tory pledged to restrict the growth of property taxes to the level of inflation. But Tory has since embraced higher property taxes. This past January, Tory threw his support behind a proposal to raise property taxes by 4.4 per cent.

Even if voters think they’re electing a mayor who will responsibly manage the city’s finances, there’s no telling how much a candidate will change after being sworn into office.

The bottom line is that handing mayors new powers to get around the check-and-balance role of council is a dangerous gamble. Depending on who is in the mayor’s chair, taxpayers could benefit or get soaked with higher taxes and reckless government spending. The risks simply aren’t worth the potential gains.

Ford should shelve his plan to give new powers to the mayors of Toronto and Ottawa. Instead, he should focus on reforms that could bring real relief to taxpayers through more responsible city budgeting.

Jay Goldberg is the Ontario Director at the Canadian Taxpayers Federation

The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.



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Canadian political pundits seem to spend a lot of time sifting the detritus of the US political scene to explain Canadian trends. But there may be better insights offered from surveying a system closer to home – the UK Westminster’s scene.

While Donald Trump still maintains a stranglehold on broad sectors of his own party and success in reinforcing institutional power for its ideology, recent developments in the UK shows how quickly a government’s fortunes can shift in a parliamentary system.

In 2019, Conservative Party leader Boris Johnson, running on a narrow populist platform of “getting Brexit done” won a massive landslide victory in the UK Parliament. He was one of the first post-ideology leaders, weaving his Conservative party indiscriminately to the right and left, in pursuit of votes.

Johnson’s victory was the final straw in the leadership demise of Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn and Jo Swinson of the Liberal Democrats. His campaign appealed to the traditional Labour trade union voters that had been the foundation of the ‘Red Wall’, the Northern UK geography that had protected the Labour party’s parliamentary fortunes for decades.

Johnson’s personal style was bombastic yet appealed to everyman, despite his elite background; his so-called ‘authenticity’ offered a unique shield in politics. A failure to grasp facts or the willingness to misinterpret data cavalierly, if not to outright mislead or lie, was dismissed as a nothing more than awkward by his mostly ardent supporters.

Because of the size of his parliamentary victory, and the initial weakness of his political opponents, it was hard to imagine that a time would come within Johnson’s first term of elected office that he would be on the verge of being turfed out by his own party.

Challenged over “partygate’ during the pandemic and scandalous behaviour of key staff and Ministers thriving in a culture of a  lack of accountability, Johnson deflects but rarely apologizes. He evinces little sense of responsibility for what those surrounding him are doing.

In May, the Conservatives suffered a series of catastrophic local council elections where Tory strongholds were smashed as well as two by-election losses in ultra safe Tory seats. Public opinion has soured on Boris’ antics.

Labour and Liberal Democrats party organizers worked closely behind the scenes to maximize votes for those non-Tory candidates most likely to win.

At Westminster, 41% of Conservative backbenchers challenged Boris ongoing leadership and  voted no-confidence, despite no clear leadership alternative in sight.

The cumulative cause has been that Johnson’s greatest claim to retaining office and the support of his own caucus, has not been his ideology but rather his re-electability.

Last week, two of his most prominent Ministers, Health and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, resigned, citing the need  to ‘conduct the business of government properly, competently and seriously.’

They had lost confidence that Johnson can mend his ways and see a real threat to their own electoral future. As Health Minister Javid wrote in his letter of resignation, ‘the non confidence vote … was a moment for humility, grip and new direction. I regret to say, however, that it is clear to me that this situation will not change under your leadership and you have therefore lost my confidence too.’ Boris Johnson subsequently tendered his resignation as Prime Minister later in the week.

In Canada, the ideological divides are much cleaner at the federal level and certainly in most provinces. Efforts by Erin O’Toole or some of the current crop of leadership candidates [ Charest and Brown] to maintain the political centre right in the Conservative Party remain under attack by former leader Scheer and front runner Poilievre.

Trudeau’s Liberals agreement with the NDP suggests a continued centre -left approach for the federal government.

In Alberta, the UCP is facing a divisive ideological battle between Conservatives and Wildrose elements. The extreme language and tone of the exchanges suggest an even further rightward shift.

In Quebec, Premier Legault’s CAC has dusted off the older elements of Quebec’s ‘nation’ rhetoric and linguistic goals as it gets set for its forthcoming campaign.

Could Ontario pose a parallel to both how Boris Johnson’s government gained power and an object lesson of what can happen in the future, depending upon how issues are managed over the next two years?

In 2022, Premier Ford won a a massive provincial victory, running on a narrow populist campaign of ‘getting it done’. Ford’s team boasts of being a post-ideology government, weaving the Conservative policies indiscriminately to the right and left, in pursuit of votes.

Despite an elite background, Mr. Ford has cloaked himself in a cloak of the everyday man; his authenticity provides a unique shield for his bombastic style and willingness to take risks- such as shoving a nephew into his cabinet. His successful outreach to trade unionists secured important seat gains in Windsor, Hamilton and Toronto.

Ford’s triumph pushed out the Liberal and New Democratic leaders. Their organizers are left to toy whether an informal progressive alliance in some seats might be the best way to defeat the Conservative juggernaut at the next election.

So far, political analysts can imagine few circumstance where Ford’s authority and control of the provincial government could be successfully challenged, given that so many of his caucus are personally dependent upon Ford’s electoral appeal.

In the absence of any ideology, the key to the situation will be Mr Ford’s ability to retain his re-electability. The bragging rights Mr Ford rightfully earned in 2022 will be put to the test by the twin spectres of stagflation and a looming recession.

In the interim, a return to his initial governance style remains his first challenge. Appointing his young nephew to Cabinet has reignited the debate about Mr. Ford’s political judgment.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.



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The Ontario election campaign has come to a close. It’s been over a month since the results came in. This means the Liberals have had time to reflect on their poor performance, the NDP has had time to reflect after their leader resigned, and obviously, the Progressive Conservatives have had time to name their new cabinet and new Parliamentary Assistants.

The Ontario Liberal Party hasn’t yet named a new Interim Leader, following Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca stepping down as leader of the party. Del Duca as leader of the party undoubtedly did things that perhaps other leaders wouldn’t have been able to do, such as pay off the party’s debt. However, there were most definitely questions as to his performance, only winning the party eight seats in the legislature and not evening winning his own riding of Vaughan-Woodbridge. The riding of Vaughan-Woodbridge has always been a toss-up riding, of course, it’s held federally by Liberal MP Francesco Sorbara and provincially by Michael Tibollio from the PCs, who of course is an Associate Cabinet Minister in the Government. Tibollio defeated Del Duca in 2018, and he did so again in 2022. The Liberals will need to do much reflection, which of course is something Liberal insiders and strategists are already doing. The party will need to pick a new permanent leader before for the next provincial election. It’ll need to be someone who can appeal to audiences specifically which Del Duca wasn’t able to do. The party is likely still recovering from the 2018 campaign, which was quite devastating for the party, and so no matter who was the Leader of the party, it still probably would’ve been a challenge to attract the groups of people Del Duca wasn’t able to do.

Del Duca didn’t make the number of gains he needed to in the GTA. Historically the GTA is generally where progressive parties such as the Liberals have their most success. There were also many examples of how Ontario’s system is designed to elect individual MPPs for each individual riding, such as Barrie-Springwater, a riding where the former Mayor of Barrie, ran against the incumbent Attorney General and MPP, where the former Mayor came in very close considering this riding is usually seen as a safe PC riding in the legislature. There were also many ridings, which some local candidates admit they could’ve had better organization and better ground game, ridings such as Ajax, Mississauga Streetsville, or even University-Rosedale. It can’t be read into very much though, nevertheless because the election was a contest of name recognition and the PC Leader had been on everyone’s television screen nearly on a daily basis throughout the pandemic, and the Liberal Leader would hold semi-daily press conferences but obviously in a crisis as big as the pandemic people want to know what the person in charge is saying because he’s ultimately the one with the decision making power at Queens Park.

The New Democrats didn’t make any gains on election night, but it was ultimately still enough to make NDP Leader Andrea Horwath announce her resignation on the night of the election. The NDP find themselves in quite a different situation from the Liberals because the NDP received thirty-one seats at Queens Park, still, enough for them to remain in the official opposition, and for Horwath to lead the opposition. Many people would argue she did the job of Opposition Leader very well, in being a critic of the Ford Government’s COVID-19 response and lending solutions in her press conferences that would follow any big decision from the Ford Government. The NDP is also in a different situation from the Liberals, primarily because they’ve already selected an Interim Leader. The party announced that they chose Toronto-Danforth MPP Peter Tabuns to serve as their leader on an interim basis. Tabuns has served in many roles in terms of Critics within the NDP caucus, he is well-respected by the NDP caucus and will likely serve as an effective NDP Interim Leader. The party will likely stay focused on having to unite the progressive portion of the party and the traditional labour faction of the party, something Horwath did quite well and something Tabuns has the ability to do well, too. They’ll want to focus on the issues, that Horwath focused on in her time as Leader of the party, issues such as Climate Change, Anti-Black racism, and they’ll likely continue to hold the Ford Government accountable for what they feel was an inadequate response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The voters of the riding of Guelph re-elected MPP and Party Leader Mike Schreiner. The party leader, Mike Schreiner has decided to stay on as Party Leader, after all, he’s the only re-elected MPP for the Green Party in the history of the party. It wasn’t all celebrations for party insiders and Green Party supporters on election night, however. The party was hoping to make gains in the Northern Ontario riding of Parry-Sound Muskoka. In that region of the province, the party ran a candidate who had been running for the Green Party since 2007, his name was Matt Richter, and the difference between Richter and the victorious PC Candidate Graydon Smith was only around five percent. The Green Party wants to be seen as a credible progressive opposition party at Queens Park, and well it’s true that Guelph MPP Mike Schreiner has punched above his weight, the party will still need to elect more MPPs if they want to be viewed as that credible alternative to those other progressive opposition parties at Queens Park in the legislature.

The PCs were of course the big story of election night, winning eighty-three seats, an even larger majority government than was won by the party in 2018. Of course, it is quite rare that the incumbent gets elected to a second consecutive majority government. The PCs will probably need to still reflect on some things, like how they will attract those audiences that they didn’t attract in this past election, but ultimately the party did what they needed to do in the election, in order for Doug Ford to be viewed as credible which was win a second term.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.



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Ontarians should listen for a giant sucking sound from Queen’s Park.

Now that the election is over and MPPs know that they don’t have to directly answer to voters for another four years, you can bet that Ontario’s political parties will team up once again to funnel even more money from taxpayers’ wallets into party coffers.

For those who didn’t know, Ontario’s political parties are giving themselves millions of dollars four times a year through a process known as the per-vote subsidy. Each party gets a set amount of money based on how many votes they received in the last election with no strings attached. Parties can spend that money on whatever they want, including lawn signs and attack ads during election campaigns.

But earlier this year, Ontario’s political parties did something unprecedented. All four of them took nine months’ worth of quarterly political welfare payments early, so they could spend the money during this spring’s election campaign.

Never before have Ontario’s political parties taken a payday advance from taxpayers. But thanks to legislation the Ford government passed last year, with no quarrels from the opposition, that’s exactly how it played out.

Roughly $10 million was loaned from you, the taxpayer, to Ontario’s political parties to finance their election campaigns.

Yet now that election day has come and gone and the money is spent, Ontario’s political parties are waking up to the fact that they won’t get quarterly payments for the next nine months, having taken the money early.

Without having to face the wrath of voters for another four years and hungry for cash, you can bet dollars to donuts that Ontario’s political parties will team up once again and try to alter the payday advance to make it a forgivable loan and make sure they get taxpayer cash over the next nine months.

Political parties will pretend they desperately need this cash. As former NDP leader Andrea Horwath said, “there has to be a way of funding democracy.”

But democracy isn’t about sweetheart handouts from taxpayer coffers to partisan politicians. In fact, these payments erode democracy by allowing political parties to skip the legwork to connect with everyday voters and earn donations from supporters. And it certainly isn’t democratic to take the same money twice.

Plus, political parties still raise millions from their supporters. In 2020, while the pandemic led to an economic contraction, Ontario’s political parties still managed to raise millions. They raised nearly $10 million combined. That was actually over and above what the parties raised in 2019, which totaled just over $7 million. This fundraising increase kills any narrative that Ontario’s political parties can’t fund their own operations because of declining donations.

If parties are short on cash, they should be turning to their supporters to help finance party operations over the next nine months. Asking Ontario taxpayers to allow them to double dip by taking a payday advance and getting their pay a second time would be unconscionable.

At the federal level, parties don’t get quarterly payments from taxpayers and all of them have been raking in millions from their supporters. In 2021, their fundraising hit an all-time high. If federal parties can manage to keep the lights on from individual, small dollar donations, their provincial counterparts surely can too.

Four years ago, Premier Doug Ford promised to scrap Ontario’s political welfare regime. At the time, Ford declared that he did “not believe the government should be taking money from hard-working taxpayers and giving it to political parties.”

But instead of ending the system, he expanded it. He also arranged for the payday loan Ontario’s political parties were given this spring. Ford certainly can’t claim he’s fighting for taxpayers if he chooses to move ahead with political welfare double dipping.

The political welfare payday loan was even more evidence that Ontario’s political parties cannot be trusted with taxpayer cash. Taxpayers should say no to double dipping. After that, Ontarians should demand that the program be scrapped altogether. It’s time for Ontario taxpayers to get out of the political party welfare business.

Jay Goldberg is the Ontario Director at the Canadian Taxpayers Federation

The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.


Ontario Premier Doug Ford and the Progressive Conservatives won the June 2 election in impressive fashion. They’ll form a second straight majority government after taking 83 of the 124 contested seats. That’s seven seats higher than they won in 2018, and a 16 seat increase from the dissolution of the previous legislative session.

The two main opposition parties, Andrea Horwath’s New Democrats and Steven Del Duca’s Liberals, earned 31 and 8 seats respectively. Both party leaders announced their resignations on election night. (The remaining two provincial seats were won by Green Party leader Mike Schreiner and Independent candidate Bobbi Ann Brady.)

With this victory, Ford established himself as one of Canada’s most important and influential Conservative politicians. This would have seemed like an impossibility several years ago.

Readers may recall the trials and tribulations involving Ford’s younger brother, Rob. A successful municipal politician, he was elected Mayor of Toronto in Oct. 2010. Alas, he had personal demons when it came to alcohol and drug use. Allegations of partying, lewd behaviour and smoking crack cocaine in one of his “drunken stupors” made local headlines. The story also went viral internationally thanks to frequent coverage by U.S. late night hosts like Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel and Jon Stewart.

Ford had been elected as a city councillor in Rob’s old stomping grounds, Ward 2 Etobicoke North, that year. He regularly defended his brother’s honour and reputation, and strongly pushed back against attacks from political opponents, critics and the media. They were part of a close-knit family. Wherever Rob Ford was, Doug Ford was close by.

When his brother, who had taken a leave of absence to deal with his substance abuse issues, was diagnosed with cancer in Sept. 2014, Ford ran for mayor in his stead and lost to John Tory. The former Toronto Mayor ran for city councillor, won his old seat back and passed away in Mar. 2016.

Some political observers understood why Ford had defended his younger brother on a near-daily basis. Many would have likely done the same thing if they had been in his shoes. The anti-Ford contingent, however, paid no heed to this and painted him with the same political brush.

When Ford unexpectedly abandoned his second mayoral campaign against Tory in Feb. 2018 to run for the Ontario PC leadership and won, his critics felt party members had made a poor decision and would live to regret it. When Ford won the general election on June 7, his critics pointed out the unpopularity of then-Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne and said he simply rode an existing wave for political change.

When Ford, as Premier, reduced the number of Toronto’s council wards from 47 to 25, supported cuts to bloated municipal services, reduced several costly educational programs (including free tuition for low-income students), enforced back-to-work legislation to end the York University strike and faced some backlash with several patronage appointments, his critics questioned his every move and basic motives. When Ford announced short-lived COVID-19 restrictions related to police powers, school closures and keeping playgrounds open, his critics said his political goose was cooked and would only be a one-term Premier.

They were wrong in each and every instance. His political opponents didn’t – and, to this day, still don’t – understand the key to his political success.

The Premier, along with his late brother, had built a unique brand of conservatism. His guiding philosophy, Ford Nation, combines populist rhetoric and conservative principles. It stands for lower taxes, reducing government expansion and interference, fiscal prudence, supporting individual rights and freedoms, standing up for the little guy – and giving power back to the people.

Ford isn’t a traditional conservative ideologue, however. He’s always believed in building bridges with individuals and groups who aren’t necessarily natural allies. He successfully worked hand-in-hand with Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland during COVID-19, for instance. He earned the endorsement of several unions while promoting free markets and free enterprise. He provided strong leadership during the pandemic by developing strong ties with a medical community that was somewhat skeptical of working with him at first.

This is pure retail politics at its core. There’s something in his plan for just about everyone, and many Ontarians found a thing or two to call their own. They also learned this Premier is the genuine article. The man I met in his late father’s legislative office many years ago is the same man who is currently leading Ontario, and not the one who was trapped in the difficult, circus-like atmosphere of Toronto politics over a decade ago.

Ford has identified a political formula that could potentially work for Conservatives in Liberal Canada. With the federal cousins in the midst of a tense and somewhat volatile leadership race, he’s provided acknowledged frontrunner Pierre Poilievre and others with some important food for thought. We’ll see if they opt to consume any of it.

It’s also worth noting former U.S. President Donald Trump, former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson employed similar political messaging and strategies to Ford’s during their election campaigns. These men are all different from one another, but realized their brands of conservatism needed to have broader appeal to achieve greater electoral success.

A subtle nod to the growing legacy of Ford Nation, perhaps.

Michael Taube, a long-time newspaper columnist and political commentator, was a speechwriter for former Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.



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