Doug Ford’s election promises don’t add up
April 18, 2018
Star Editorial Board
With the Ontario election just seven weeks away, we’re starting to get an idea of what a Doug Ford government would look like.
It’s a rabble-rousing brand of politics, to be sure. But it’s also mathematically challenged.
The Progressive Conservatives have not released a comprehensive election platform, nothing so clear as that. But their leader, who prides himself on his straight talk, has been racking up promises in the past few days. None of them, however, add up the way he claims they do:
- Ford says his first act as premier will be to fire the head of Hydro One.
Ford thinks the “six-million-dollar man,” Mayo Schmidt, makes too much money and plenty of Ontario voters probably agree with him.
What he’s counting on, bolstered by his own blustery statements about Schmidt and the Hydro board “laughing themselves to the bank” while customers struggle to pay their bills, is that fewer voters will know he can’t actually fire Schmidt. That’s because Hydro One was partly privatized two years ago.
What he can do is fire the board, appoint a new one, and have them fire Schmidt. The trouble with that, which he leaves out of his popular “the CEO is gone” speech, is that it will trigger a $10.7-million payout to Schmidt.
So this Ford promise would cost Ontarians more, not less.
- He’ll put an end to provincial income taxes for minimum wage earners, and says that will save them $800.
That, too, sounds good until the slightest bit of rudimentary math is applied.
A full-time, minimum-wage earner makes $28,000. And thanks to government deductions and tax credits already in place, such a person pays nowhere near $800 in tax. So Ford can’t deliver on that promise.
In fact, his plan is even worse because there’s another piece to it. That’s his pledge to keep the hourly minimum wage at $14 instead of letting it rise to $15 next January, as the Liberal government plans.
That pay rise would be worth $2,000 for someone earning a full-time minimum wage. Ford’s plan would take far more money out of the pockets of minimum-wage workers than his income tax cut would put in — even if it did what he says it would.
- Ford will order an “audit” of the Wynne government.
Let’s set aside the fact that an election is the greatest form of accountability, so if Ford’s in a position to carry out this pledge the people will already have spoken. Even aside from that, his messaging on this is a low point in political rhetoric, even for him.
Ford is connecting the promised audit of Wynne’s government to the four-month jail sentence handed to Dalton McGuinty’s former chief of staff, with suggestions that there should be “a few more Liberals joining David Livingston in jail.”
Wynne has called this an “ugly, vicious brand of politics that traffics in smears and lies.” She’s not wrong about that.
This audit promise isn’t about uncovering financial malfeasance; it’s about throwing old dirt around, hoping it will stick and lay the basis for one of the oldest political tricks in the book.
An auditor appointed to find what he has already deemed to be “reckless and inappropriate” spending would provide useful cover for whatever promises Ford, if elected, finds himself unable to deliver. Yes, he’ll say, we promised but the Liberals left us such a mess that we can’t possibly…
- Ford’s latest pledge is to cut Ontario’s corporate tax rate “to stay competitive with neighbouring jurisdictions.”
Does he even know that Ontario already has the lowest corporate tax rate in Canada, at 11.5 per cent? We can’t say for sure, because he didn’t take any questions from the media on that.
Even measured by his own words, Ford is falling short. “For me,” he says, “nothing is more important than straight talk and keeping your word.”
The promises he’s made so far fall well short of that.