A year ago, Doug Ford was elected premier of Ontario on a simple slogan: For the People.
Taking a page from Donald Trump’s populist playbook, he bashed the elites, promised to fix provincial finances, and vowed to make Ontario “open for business.” Weary of 14 years of Liberal rule, voters gave him 76 of 124 seats in the legislature.
On election night, at party headquarters, Ford’s name was plastered everywhere; the Progressive Conservative Party logo was a mere afterthought. It was a masterstroke of rebranding — and a harbinger of what was to come.
While Ford has kept many of his promises — axing the carbon tax, finding savings in government, reforming labour laws — he has also done many things his party never contemplated, but that matter a great deal to him personally. Many of these involve Toronto, the city that rejected him first in the mayoral election of 2014, and then again during the recent provincial vote.
Less than two months after becoming premier, Ford cut the number of city councilors in half — on the eve of another municipal election. Later that year, he announced the province was taking over Toronto’s subway system. Most recently, he dived into urban planning, promising to allow developers to drastically increase density near subway stops — including those in low-rise residential neighborhoods — under the pretext that this will alleviate the city’s housing shortage.
Make no mistake, however: none of these actions have anything to do with good governance, and everything to do with settling scores.