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COLUMN: More governing, less politicking from Queen's Park please

'Politicians do whatever it takes to get elected, then immediately start doing whatever it takes to be re-elected,' writes city hall reporter
Doug Ford is shown in a file photo during a stop on Barrie ahead of the 2018 provincial election. | Raymond Bowe/BarrieToday

I have this unusual expectation of our governments.

I expect them to govern, first and foremost.

Not play politics, not look at the political landscape and determine how best to manipulate it, not pick on their opponents when they’re down, not endlessly scheme and not look like they are following the creed of all who take to the soapbox.

Which would be that politicians do whatever it takes to get elected, then immediately start doing whatever it takes to be re-elected.

All of which leads me to Ontario Premier Doug Ford and the persistent rumours that he plans to call an early election.

Yes, there was just one in June 2022, and Ford’s Progressive Conservatives won a majority government against a largely disorganized Liberal party and a New Democratic Party which couldn’t see the political opportunity right before its eyes.

Only 43 per cent of eligible voters, in fact, even bothered to cast ballots two years ago.

Ford successfully made the campaign so boring that most voters didn’t care.

So why does he want an early one, a so-called snap vote, when his four-year mandate doesn’t expire until June 2026?

It has, I assure you, nothing to do with what’s best for the fine people on Ontario and everything to do with what’s best for Ford’s Conservatives (and which, he would tell us, that this is what’s best for Ontario).

The premier has said there will be no Ontario election this summer or fall, to his credit, and a winter vote is unlikely.

But Ford has not ruled out a spring 2025 vote, which gives him considerable political runway.

First, it allows him to target Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is approximately as popular as a skunk at a Muskoka cottage, after a long drive from the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

Don’t let all of those automobile plants and electric vehicle/battery announcements fool you. Ford will be pointing at Trudeau for all the wrong (or right) reasons during the next Ontario election campaign.

And who could miss the Conservative attack ads on new Ontario Liberal leader Bonnie Combie ... and during the Stanley Cup playoffs to boot.

Crombie is practically joined at the hip with Trudeau, if the Tory ads are to be believed.

They’re both bad Liberal news for Ontario residents, according to Ford and Co.

The Conservatives are also testing the political waters with measures designed to appeal to the Tory base, those who would vote for Ford through thick and thin, as the saying goes.

Take recently revealed plans to allow corner stores to sell beer, wine and ready-to-drink cocktails, starting in September, but 16 months ahead of schedule.

Every Tory likes greater availability of booze, right? Maybe even some Liberals and NDPers will come around.

That this will cost Ontario taxpayers $225 million, for the early ending of a Beer Store contract that would expire at the end of 2025, seems of little consequence to the Ford government.

But $225 million could help pay for more doctors and nurses, hospitals, teachers, schools, highway repairs, police officers, etc.

This is what I mean about our governments concentrating on governing instead of just playing politics.

What’s also irksome about the possibility of an early Ontario election is, as already mentioned, the Conservatives have a majority government.

They can basically do what they want, when they want, with Ontario.

Would Ford call a snap election to get an even larger majority? Probably.

Or would he call an early election because the Conservatives might not get one of Ford waits until 2026 to go back to voters?

That’s more likely, as two years can be a long time in politics.

There could, of course, be another federal election anytime, as Trudeau has a minority government propped up only by the NDP.

But a national vote is more likely in the fall of 2025.

There will be a municipal (including Barrie) election in the fall of 2026, but it’s doubtful Ford is worried about the competition.

Nevertheless, I’d like to see a little less scheming and a little more governing at Queen’s Park.

Is that really too much to ask?


Bob Bruton covers city hall for BarrieToday.