Ontario Premier Doug Ford and his team have accomplished a lot in less than six months. By their own count, they have 29 achievements and some of them are large. They have made a start on balancing the budget, ended cap-and-trade and introduced a new climate change plan. They have eliminated income taxes for minimum-wage workers and are tackling the province’s ineffective welfare regime.
Unfortunately, they far too often fail to explain the thinking behind what they do, leaving those who are not inclined in their direction to interpret their actions in the worst possible light.
Here’s a simple example. When the Progressive Conservatives ended the Liberal cap-and-trade plan, it seemed like the lost revenues and the cancelled expenditures would equal each other, leaving no net cost. What the PCs didn’t bother to emphasize is that they were keeping some of the Liberal cap-and-trade spending, at a cost of between $600 million and $800 million a year.
When the province’s Financial Accountability Office added that up, it looked like a $3-billion budget hole that the PCs just hadn’t seen coming. Perhaps they were reluctant to admit that any Liberal spending was good, but the result was a self-inflicted black eye. The government had told the accountability office not to detail the remaining spending, even though it included $95 million of a promised $100 million in upgrades for schools. The government still gets beaten up because people think it cancelled that spending.