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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.


Three billion dollars. That’s how much Premier Doug Ford’s two-and-a-half years of gas tax cuts will have saved Ontario taxpayers by Christmas.

Ford cut the gas tax by 6.4 cents per litre July 2022.

The move has been meaningful at kitchen tables across the province.

The typical two-car family filling up once a week has saved more than $850 at the pumps since Ford’s gas tax cut was put in place two years ago. And, thanks to the Ford government’s plan to extend the cut through the end of the year, families can expect to save an additional $225.

When the Ford government introduced its gas tax cut in July 2022, the finance ministry said the temporary six-month cut would leave about $645 million in Ontarians’ pockets. With that period now stretched out from six months to two-and-a-half years, Ontario taxpayers are set to enjoy savings of more than $3 billion.

Ford’s gas tax cut may seem like yesterday’s news given that it’s been in place for nearly two years. But the tax cut means Ontarians have had one of the lowest gas tax burdens in Canada, behind only Manitoba and Newfoundland and Labrador.

And the Ford’s gas tax cut has never been more important as the Trudeau government keeps hammering families with higher costs.

Since Ford cut the gas tax in July 2022, the Trudeau government has raised the carbon tax twice, adding roughly six cents per litre to the cost at the pump. Ford’s cut has helped struggling taxpayers blunt the impact of Trudeau’s tax hikes when filling up to get to work, take the kids to school or head to hockey practice.

And that’s part of the plan.

“With the federal government about to increase its costly carbon tax, it’s never been more important to provide relief at the pumps and put hundreds of dollars back into peoples’ pockets,” Ford said earlier this spring.

To Ford’s credit, he has spent his entire political career speaking out about the damage of the costly federal carbon tax.

“Carbon tax schemes are no more than government cash grabs that do nothing for the environment, while hitting people in the wallet in order to fund big government programs,” Ford said days after becoming premier.

Ontario taxpayers are also in the minority in terms of saving at the gas pump. Only Manitobans and Newfoundlanders and Labradorians also currently enjoy provincial gas tax relief.

More than 400,000 Ontarians are now working two jobs just to make ends meet. Fifty per cent of Canadians say they’re $200 away from not being able to pay their bills. Ottawa has been tone deaf by imposing carbon tax hikes and Ford is fighting to defend Ontario taxpayers from the Trudeau government’s reckless tax-and-spend antics.

Over the past 24 months, taxpayers filling up two cars once a week have saved nearly $850 thanks to Ford’s gas tax cut. That’s real money that pays for a month’s worth of groceries for a family of four.

There’s more Ford can do to lower costs for taxpayers. He should look at putting his $9 billion a year of corporate welfare on the chopping block to deliver even more relief for Ontario families through lower income taxes or a sales tax cut.

But the bottom line is that Ford deserves credit for implementing his bold gas tax cut for two whole years.

It’s good that Ford intends to keep up his fight for affordability by extending the gas tax cut until December. And before that temporary gas tax cut expires, taxpayers will once again be calling on Ford to deliver yet another extension.

Jay Goldberg is the Ontario Director of 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.


When is a fixed election date not a fixed election date? When you seemingly disregard a set-in-stone rule and attempt to set a new date for an election that’s more to your liking.

That’s what some Ontarians may have thought when they heard Premier Doug Ford was thinking about an early election call. Or was something completely different at play? I believe it’s the latter.

Ford is reportedly “considering an early election call before the scheduled 2026 vote over concerns about cuts a future federal Conservative government might impose,” according to the Toronto Star’s Robert Benzie and Rob Ferguson. “Sources say Ford is worried that if, as polls suggest, Pierre Poilievre wins an election expected in October 2025, there would be reduced transfer payments to the provinces,” they wrote on May 28, which means “a scrapping of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s electric-vehicle strategy that is a cornerstone of Ontario economic policy and other slashed spending that would hurt the Progressive Conservatives.”

There’s the added belief a federal Conservative government would help the electoral fortunes of Bonnie Crombie and the Ontario Liberals.

This follows Prof. Frank Underhill’s theory that Ontario voters prefer having different federal and provincial parties in power simultaneously. “In the 1870s and 1880s and early 1890s many a good Ontario citizen would vote Grit in provincial politics,” he wrote in the now-defunct Canadian Forumin 1946, “and then, appalled at the thought of Grit domination of the whole of Canada, he would turn around and help re-elect [Sir John A.] Macdonald in federal politics. Just so today. Thousands of Ontario voters last summer, after putting Mr. [George] Drew into office, turned round within a week and helped the rest of Canada to make sure that Ontario tories should not dominate the Dominion.”

Underhill’s balance theory had historical merit. This concept has largely dissipated, however. Ontario voters have moved away from a need for political balance to a desire for ideological consistency. Voting for a federal Conservative government and provincial Ontario PC government, much like voting for a federal Liberal government and Ontario Liberal government, is gradually becoming the norm rather than an exception to the rule.

If Ford and his senior advisers are worried about this, they shouldn’t be.

Benzie and Ferguson also suggested an early election call is a “major reason why the premier is paying the Beer Store $225 million to liberalize booze sales as of this fall.” That’s more than a year ahead of schedule, which some of Ford’s critics claim “could actually cost taxpayers between $600 million and $1 billion.”

Ford didn’t address or commit to holding a planned provincial election in June 2026 during last week’s announcement about the Beer Store. He simply stated, “I just want to get our agenda through.” When Toronto radio host Jerry Agar pressed Ford on May 28 about the possibility of an early election call, the latter told him, “again, I can’t answer that. I just can’t right now.” Agar responded, “well, who else can?,” which led to the Premier’s retort, “Jerry, Jerry, as far as I’m concerned we’re going to focus on our agenda, getting things done and the people are going to decide – that’s what’s beautiful about a democracy.”

Ford also added this small statement, “stay tuned.”

Hold on. Why should Ontarians stay tuned if he can’t call an early election? The Election Statute Law Amendment Act, 2005, which was passed by then-Premier Dalton McGuinty and the Liberals, noted that provincial elections held after Oct. 4, 2007 would be scheduled “on the first Thursday in October in the fourth calendar year following polling day in the most recent general election.” This has been adjusted twice. The 2007 election was shifted to Oct. 10 because of the Jewish holiday of Shemini Atzeret, and the Election Statute Law Amendment Act, 2016switched it to “the first Thursday in June in the fourth calendar year following polling day in the most recent general election.”

Ah, but there are some exceptions to fixed election dates.

The most obvious is a minority government situation. Political parties in Canada with less than 50 percent of seats in a federal or provincial legislature typically last about 18 months. Formal and informal coalitions with other parties can extend their stay. The three year work-and-supply agreement between the federal Liberals and NDP has given Prime Minister Justin Trudeau an additional lease on life. Generally speaking, however, a fixed election date for minority governments is a near-impossibility.

Ford doesn’t have to worry about this situation. The Ontario PCs won successive majority governments in 2018 and 2022. The latter is one of the largest majority governments in Ontario’s history.

That being said, Ontario’s election law includes the following passage, “Nothing in this section affects the powers of the Lieutenant Governor, including the power to dissolve the Legislature, by proclamation in Her Majesty’s name, when the Lieutenant Governor sees fit.” If an Ontario Premier with a majority government could convince a Lieutenant Governor that an early election was necessary, the fixed election date could be bypassed.

Is this what Ford is trying to do? I don’t believe so.

It’s more likely the Premier is stirring the pot to make people think a snap election is possible. A touch of smoke and mirrors in politics isn’t unusual, after all. Or, he’s simply trying to give himself a leg up on present and future negotiations with Trudeau and, at some point, Poilievre. That’s not impossible to believe, either.

Either way, it gets people talking about Doug Ford’s Ontario, political machinations as we get closer to summer – and whether fixed election dates actually make a difference.

Michael Taube, a longtime 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.


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s carbon tax consensus within his Liberal party is collapsing.

Newfoundland and Labrador’s Liberal premier, Andrew Furey, might end up being the man who finally takes down the Trudeau carbon tax.

After months of trying to get Trudeau to be more flexible on the carbon tax, Furey has come out against the policy altogether.

Let’s look back at how this came to be.

It’s no secret that opposition to the Trudeau government’s punishing carbon tax was strong early on and has been growing ever since.

But a large chunk of that opposition was concentrated among conservative politicians.

Premiers like Doug Ford in Ontario, Blaine Higgs in New Brunswick and Scott Moe in Saskatchewan have all been calling on the Trudeau government to scrap the federal carbon tax since they came to power in 2018.

But until recently, Trudeau had the tacit support of most Liberal politicians at all levels.

As Trudeau has hiked his carbon tax further and further, Liberal politicians couldn’t keep selling the scheme, especially for constituents who don’t live in tiny condos in downtown metropolises.

The federal carbon tax now costs drivers 17 cents per litre at the gas pump and homeowners with natural gas are paying than $300 this winter. The federal government plants to keep raising the carbon tax until 2030, so it’ll only get worse.

Over the past year, Furey, Canada’s lone Liberal first minister, has gone from supporting Trudeau’s carbon tax to becoming an outright antagonist.

Last year, Furey called on the federal government to stop charging the carbon tax on home heating oil, which a large percentage of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians use to heat their homes.

Soon thereafter, Newfoundland and Labrador Member of Parliament Ken McDonald courageously voted to repeal the federal carbon tax and nearly launched a rebellion in the Liberal caucus among Atlantic Liberal MPs. In response, Trudeau carved out a carbon tax exemption for home heating oil for the next three years.

But Furey wasn’t satisfied.

In the lead up to the Trudeau government’s 2024 carbon tax hike, which occurred on April 1, Furey signed an open letter to Trudeau calling on the federal government to cancel its planned hike. Six other premiers joined him in that effort.

Yet Trudeau was defiant and let the 23 per cent carbon tax increase go ahead.

That’s when Furey threw down the gauntlet.

In a letter to Trudeau, Furey declared openly what the vast majority of Canadians already know: the carbon tax is the wrong approach when it comes to protecting the environment.

Unlike Canadians living in downtown Toronto or Vancouver, with tiny condos and easy access to public transit, Furey notes Newfoundlanders and Labradorians can’t still need to drive to work and heat their homes no matter how high the carbon tax goes.

The idea behind the carbon tax is that as prices get too high, consumers change their behaviour and use less carbon intensive methods to heat their homes and get to work.

But those living in rural Canada can’t hop on the subway or rely on a heat pump.

Furey notes in his letter that for many, “there are no alternatives available.” So, if Trudeau’s goal is to use the carbon tax to lower emissions, that goal “is not being achieved at this time.”

Furey concludes: “We need a constructive approach to decarbonize our environment without placing the burden on individual families who simply do not have viable alternative options.”

Furey is calling on Trudeau to convene an emergency meeting of Canada’s premiers to search for alternatives to the carbon tax.

Seventy per cent of Canadians opposed Trudeau’s carbon tax hike on April 1. It’s a good bet that number will keep going up every time the tax goes up. Furey is right to point out that obvious reality and the prime minister should listen.

Jay Goldberg is the Interim Atlantic Director of 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.


This content is restricted to subscribers

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.


This content is restricted to subscribers

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.


This content is restricted to subscribers

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.


This content is restricted to subscribers

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 just can’t resist a bad deal.

Ford put Ontario taxpayers on the hook for $10 billion in corporate welfare handouts to two of the world’s biggest and most profitable automakers.

He also committed Ontario taxpayers to spending billions to bail out the city of Toronto without conducting an audit of the city’s finances.

And now, Ford has bought into the FIFA World Cup soccer fiscal fiasco.

Ford announced last week he was committing Ontario taxpayers to pay up to $97 million toward the cost of Toronto hosting six World Cup games in 2026.

But do a quick look at the numbers and it’s clear Ford is making a bad investment.

When the city of Toronto was deciding whether to bid to host some World Cup games, city bureaucrats originally calculated it would result in $307 million in economic benefits.

Those benefits will largely go to local Toronto businesses, who could get additional tourism.

At the same time, Toronto bureaucrats initially estimated that hosting six FIFA games in 2026 will cost taxpayers at least $290 million.

That means if the cost of hosting the games goes even seven per cent over budget – which is a near certainty – the net economic benefits will be outweighed by the net economic costs.

The city has trotted out new numbers suggesting economic activity will surpass $307 million, but has yet to release any detailed analysis to explain how more economic activity will be generated than originally thought.

Either way, let’s remember it’s city businesses that will see the economic benefits while taxpayers will be the ones bearing the costs. Taxpayers paying for FIFA is just another form of corporate welfare.

It’s also important to note the increased economic activity will happen in Toronto while taxpayers across the province foot the bill.

The litany of costs placed on taxpayers’ shoulders is unfair when one examines who will benefit financially from FIFA.

Taxpayers are on the hook for paying the full cost of renovating BMO Field to ensure there are enough seats and amenities to reach FIFA’s hosting standards.

No less than 17,750 temporary seats will have to be added.

The city of Toronto signed a deal committing taxpayers to paying for all of the renovations at the Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment owned BMO Field, while promising to share up to 50 per cent of the economic benefits with MLSE.

Toronto also committed to paying MLSE to compensate for any lost profits while BMO Field is closed for renovations.

That means taxpayers will be paying for both the renovations and any lost revenue during construction, but will share any profits from economic activity at BMO Field with MLSE. Profits will be shared 50-50 for the first $10 million and 60 per cent for the city and 40 per cent for MLSE beyond the first $10 million.

That’s a raw deal if there ever was one.

Then there’s FIFA. FIFA is forcing taxpayers to pay for these renovations to BMO Field, but intends to keep all the money from ticket sales. FIFA expects to make $15 billion (CAD) from the World Cup in 2026.

Once again, taxpayers will be forced to pay for most of the costs while another entity – in this case FIFA – keeps a large share of the benefits.

Finally, taxpayers should be concerned about Ford’s decision to commit taxpayer dollars to help finance Toronto’s World Cup bid when taxpayers can’t even see the terms of Toronto’s deal with FIFA.

Toronto signed a deal to host six games with FIFA behind closed doors. Taxpayers are not allowed to see the agreement because of non-disclosure agreements. It even took Mayor Olivia Chow months to get a look at the fine print.

The bottom line is that paying $51 million per game for a soccer tournament in Toronto is a mistake. The risks to taxpayers are too great and our politicians shouldn’t be falling over each other to throw cash at FIFA while leaving taxpayers vulnerable to soaring costs.

Politicians must either rip up the deal with FIFA to save taxpayers from what is sure to be spiraling costs or negotiate a better deal with FIFA and MLSE to limit taxpayers’ risk and get more bang for the taxpayer buck.

Jay Goldberg is the Ontario Director of 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.


This content is restricted to subscribers

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.