Doug Ford was re-elected as premier of Ontario in June, securing a majority government for the Progressive Conservatives, with the NDP forming the official opposition.
Ford's first term in office was shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic, which became a top policy priority for the government for nearly three years. With the pandemic response no longer the key focus for the province, Yahoo Finance Canada’s Alicja Siekierska and the Public Policy Forum’s Sean Speer discuss what policies the second term of a Ford-led Ontario government may look like.
"It won't be enough to sloganeer," Speer said.
"Getting it done is a nice idea, but getting what done and how done and for whom are questions that the government will be under increasing pressure to answer."
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ALICJA SIEKIERSKA: Doug Ford's first-term agenda very much got derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic. So we didn't really get a clear sense, I think, of what his policy goals were because he had to spend nearly three years dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. And that was just the top priority for so long. Now that he's elected, been elected and has a majority mandate, what kind of policies do you expect that we'll perhaps see Ford move ahead with now that COVID-19 is not going to be that top priority necessarily?
SEAN SPEER: I think it's a great question, Alicja. It's a couple of things. You know, first of all-- well, on the face of it, the government has won this expanded majority, which one could interpret as a significant electoral mandate and so on. You mentioned earlier, the fact is that less than half of eligible voters voted.
And so, you know, one can't help but think that that, in a way, has sort of diminished the kind of magnitude of the ostensible mandate that the government has. And that will mean that, I think, the government, if it gets too far ahead on certain issues-- you know, I'm thinking of issues like education reform, or health care reform, or spending reductions, or something like that-- they may risk kind of misinterpreting the size and magnitude of the mandate, notwithstanding the fact that it's picked up more seats than before the campaign.
The second thing I would say is, the Progressive Conservative Party's platform was pretty thin in this election. That's part of the reason I think it's hard to discern what a second term for government will look like in the absence of the pandemic.
And I think there now is a responsibility, Alicja, for the premier to articulate what those big picture priorities will be for the government. It will do a speech from the throne either later this summer or early in the fall. It's yet to be seen.
And, you know, I actually think that it will be a fundamentally important speech from the throne precisely because it needs to serve the purpose of communicating to Ontarians what the kind of key priorities of the government will be.
It won't be enough to sloganeer. Getting it done is a kind of nice idea, but getting what done, and how done, and for whom are questions that the government will be under increasing pressure to answer. And the speech from the throne strikes me as a kind of crucial opportunity to start to flesh out those answers for voters.