The official feed of Ontario’s throne speech Thursday did not show the expression on the faces of former premier Kathleen Wynne or the six remaining Liberals in her much-reduced caucus, and it’s probably a good thing, if only from a humane point of view.
The speech made clear that the bad blood collected over 15 years of Liberal rule has been anything but diluted by the Progressive Conservatives’ victory in June. Much as Wynne’s Liberals never tired of blaming any obstacle on Mike Harris — who last ruled the province in 2002 — and Justin Trudeau’s federal Liberals still delight in recalling the horrors of Stephen Harper, Premier Doug Ford’s people appear to have absorbed the idea that vilifying your predecessors can come in handy when excuses are needed down the road.
In a speech read by Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell, and with a heavy emphasis on the economic challenges ahead, the Tories made clear that any complaints should be laid at the door of the departed Liberals. Key among immediate tasks will be “restoring faith” in government institutions left shaken by Liberal “accounting tricks and slight-of-hand.”
Finances “have been left in a precarious position, and too many people are feeling excluded from a system that too often seems tilted in the direction of outsiders and the elite.” The new government will replace “failed ideological experiments in the classroom” in a return to “tried and true methods that work,” and revamp the sex education curriculum with a new “age-appropriate” replacement “based on real consultation with parents.”
Noting that “no dollar is better spent than the dollar that is left in the pockets of the taxpayer,” the speech pledged to “rebuild trust … based on a shared and simple principle: You should not be forced to pay more and work harder to make life easier for your government. Instead your government should be working harder, smarter and more efficiently to make life better for you.”
The speech caps two weeks in which Ford and his cabinet appeared determined to check off as many campaign pledges as possible before the legislature reconvened, erasing as much of the Liberal legacy as could be managed in what are supposed to be somnolent summer days.
Just hours before Dowdeswell began her address, the latest of the near-daily announcements revealed yet another Liberal leftover would be biting the dust.
In this case it was a rebate program offering sizeable subsidies to buyers of electric vehicles. Introduced in an effort to wean motorists off traditional gas-guzzlers, it paid up to $14,000 towards the purchase of a variety of “cleaner” alternatives (including, for a time, millionaire buyers of $1.1 million Porsches hand-assembled in Germany). Activists, environmentalists, the New Democratic opposition and bitter “progressives” in pricey downtown Toronto neighbourhoods were sure to be upset. But so rapid have the changes been that each new round of denunciation seems reduced …read more