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Doug Ford will mark the one-year anniversary of being sworn in as Ontario’s 26th premier on June 29, a year that can only be described as a complete disaster.
On that day last June, Ford was fresh from winning a sweeping victory over the Liberals and NDP and bragged about his newly installed government as being “for the people.”
Today, Ford’s reputation is in tatters, his all-star cabinet has been ripped apart and his own popularity stands at lows never seen before for a premier at this stage of their four-year term.
The blame for this mess lies entirely at Ford’s feet. Through his words and actions he has proven that he is clearly out of his depth, and likely totally unqualified to be premier.
A sample of 12 major areas, one for every month of the past year, shows why Ford is not up to the job.
Patronage: When he was a Toronto councillor and his late brother Rob was mayor, Ford championed the mantra of “stop the gravy train.” As premier, Ford has taken patronage to a whole new level, starting with trying to appoint his pal Ron Taverner as OPP head. Friends, relatives and Tory party hacks — the list doesn’t stop.
Chief of staff: For months ministers and staffers had told Ford about the bullying by chief of staff Dean French. But Ford ignored them, displaying either a total lack of understanding what was happening in his own office or — worse — total approval of what was going on. Only after the revelations last week of yet more patronage scandals did French “resign” his job.
Revenge on Toronto: In an act of sheer pettiness, Ford ordered the size of Toronto city council be slashed to 25 seats from 47 in the midst of last year’s municipal election.
No job-loss promise: During the election Ford pledged that no public sector workers would lose their jobs. Turns out not to be true. Already, hundreds of such workers are out of jobs.
Health-care cuts: Ford has cut deeply into health care, including slashing 170 positions just last week at Cancer Care Ontario, a move that signals Ford doesn’t consider the quality of cancer care a priority for his government.
Surprise spending cuts: Without warning, Ford has made damaging cuts in everything from public library services and legal aid to public health, student aid programs, Children’s Aid Societies, school boards, research institutes and more.
Shutting key offices: Without consultation, Ford axed the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner, the Ontario Environment Commission and the Office of the Child Advocate.
Hydro One: Washington State regulators denied Hydro One’s $6.7-billion takeover of Avista Corp. because of Ford’s move to force the CEO of the Ontario utility to resign, after which the entire board resigned. What a way to say “Ontario is open for business,” eh?
Beer Store: Ford’s moves to rip up a 2015 agreement with the Beer Store group may end up costing up to $1 billion because of his drive to bring beer to corner stores.
Missing in action: Ford is not a detail guy and doesn’t like reading briefing papers. For example, he didn’t even know his government was planning to cut funding this year for a program to plant 50 million trees.
Weak cabinet: Ford appointed a cabinet that turned out to be more no-star than all-star. Often Ford didn’t even bother to consult them before he took actions in their areas. No cabinet shuffle, like the one Ford made on June 20, will solve the basic problem of this government, namely an erratic and unqualified leader.
Canada Day: In another petty move, Ford has cancelled July 1 celebrations at the legislature, an event held for some 50 years. His team says the move is a cost-saving measure, but clearly Ford fears he will be publicly booed again.
Ford’s diehard supporters claim the premier has time to reverse his government’s fortunes. The evidence they offer for such a claim is more wishful than factual. The more likely scenario is that given Ford’s record so far, Ontario will have to endure three more years of chaos, pettiness and stupidity.
Bob Hepburn is a politics columnist and based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @BobHepburn