As if the world didn’t have enough political nastiness already, Ontario’s Liberals plan to open their re-election bid Monday with an ad campaign steeped in the sort of ugliness that has turned so much of politics into an honesty-free zone between hardened partisans.
The ads, one of which was previewed Friday, predictably aim to portray Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford as the Canadian equivalent of Cro-Magnon man or Donald Trump, whichever you hold in lower regard. He will “give corporations high tax cuts” while seizing a recent minimum wage hike “right out of hardworking people’s pockets.”
He will “put restrictions on a woman’s right to decide her own pregnancy.” A Ford government would “fire 40,000 people, including teachers and nurses,” and “won’t make big business pay a cent to address climate change.”
Doug Ford in Toronto.
Just for the record, what Ford has actually said is that he’ll reduce taxes for corporations in an attempt to make the province more attractive to investment (which creates jobs) and cancel a recent hike on wage-earners. He won’t reverse the minimum wage rise, but would freeze a future increase. He has stated any number of times that his determination to find efficiencies won’t entail job losses — “Let me be clear: No one is getting laid off,” he pledged. He says he is personally pro-life but has no intention on getting into abortion politics. And he has promised to cancel the cap-and-trade system that has done little to reduce emissions.
The Liberal charges rely heavily on distortion. The suggestion of 40,000 job losses parrots Liberal-friendly sources who insist reduced spending can only come through massive job cuts. The abortion claim relates to Ford’s willingness to let caucus members pursue legislation on matters of importance to them, and his remark that “kids can’t even get their tonsils out without the approval of their parents,” but that no similar consultation applies to abortion.
His opposition to cap-and-trade reflects the growing view that taxing carbon hasn’t proven effective in the war against global warming, and has largely become a revenue grab for heavily-indebted governments. The PCs do not reject climate change, they simply believe the tax regime isn’t helping.
The mud-flinging reflects a similar effort launched in the dying days of Paul Martin’s federal government, when the Liberals prepared ads warning that Conservatives under Stephen Harper would put troops in the streets of Toronto and ban desperate women from obtaining abortions. The Ontario Liberals’ willingness to fight dirty is not in question. Last week David Livingston, the former Liberal chief of staff, was sentenced to four months in jail for destroying evidence related to the billion-dollar gas plant scandal that continues to haunt the party. And while Liberal heavies were eventually acquitted in a bribery trial over a Sudbury by-election, revelations from the trial left a stain on Wynne and one of her closest aides.
Given their low standing, however, the Liberals evidently feel they have little choice but to focus on Ford in hopes of reducing his reputation …read more