After half a year as your premier, Doug Ford wants you to know one thing:
He has done 115 great things for you so far. Which works out to about one good deed a day (not counting weekends and holidays) since he took office.
Not for him a Top Ten List when there is so much more to boast about. Which he did with memorable immodesty Monday.
If you’re going to humble brag, best know your audience. And the Economic Club of Canada is nothing if not friendly to Ford, who received a standing ovation even before he uttered a word at lunchtime
For their money ($990 plus HST per table) Ford fans found a five-page print out of his achievements at their tables, just in time for the premier’s turn at the teleprompter. The better to keep track of all he’s done.
How indeed does that track record compare to the track laid by Sir John A. Macdonald when he completed the CPR tying the nation together? Or to the pipeline laid by Louis St. Laurent across Canada? Or to the network of colleges created by Bill Davis across the province?
Pshaw. This is history in the making — and unmaking.
“In just six months we have accomplished the impossible,” he explained. “And at your table in front of you is a list to prove it.”
Proof, you say? Here it is — “Promises made. Promises kept” — beginning with this bit…
“June 15. Scrapped the cap-and-trade carbon tax.”
Wait, here it is again … and again:
“July 25: “Introduced legislation to end cap-and-trade carbon tax…
“Aug. 2: Challenged the federal carbon tax in court.”
Still with us? Six weeks later, this entry again, word for word:
“Sept. 14: Challenged the federal carbon tax in court…
“Oct. 29: Met with Saskatchewan Premier Moe to fight carbon tax…
“Oct. 31: Passed legislation to end cap and trade carbon tax.”
Still with us? The buck stops here, but the backpatting doesn’t:
“Nov. 30: Continued (my italics) to challenge the federal government’s unconstitutional carbon tax.”
Lester B. Pearson promised his “60 days of decision,” but Doug Ford has delivered seven months of decisiveness. Our premier knows his history.
He also sees the future. Ontario is on the cusp of “prosperity the likes of which this province has never seen before,” Ford mused.
Never better. But beware.
There are dark storm clouds looming over Ontario, despite his best efforts to protect us from the deluge. No, the biggest threat to this province is not weather events or floods of biblical proportions from climate change, but the changing political climate in Ottawa that will wreak havoc on our economy.
Notwithstanding the premier’s repeated boasts that he dismantled carbon pricing in Ontario, and despite his doomed court fight with Ottawa that will throw $30 million in taxpayers’ money down the drain, Ottawa is about to impose its own federal carbon tax on the province. The result?
“A carbon tax will be a total economic disaster,” Ford predicted.
Let those words sink in: Total. Economic. Disaster.
“I’m here today to ring the warning bell that the risk of a carbon tax recession is very real… you can be for a carbon tax. Or you can be for manufacturing jobs. But you can’t be for both.”
Let those words sink in: “But you can’t be for both.”
That would be news to Gordon Campbell, the former premier of B.C. whom Ford hired as one of his new government’s top fiscal advisers last year. Campbell’s right-leaning government brought in Canada’s first carbon tax a decade ago yet that province has consistently led the country in economic growth.
By Ford’s logic, “the carbon tax isn’t about the environment.”
But in the premier’s lexicon, any references to “climate” and the “environment” put business first (my italics):
“Ontario now has a business friendly climate — an environment that is fostering new jobs and opportunity. We have created the environment for companies to thrive and prosper.”
Oh, and that list? Departing from his script, looking away from his teleprompter, our exuberant premier ad-libbed this one comment: “Wow.”
It is a list unlike any other. But here’s one entry that should be near the top, because it bespeaks Ford’s success as a salesman (even if he didn’t deliver on the original campaign promise):
“Aug. 7: Issued the ‘Buck-A-Beer’ Challenge.”
Martin Regg Cohn is a columnist based in Toronto covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @reggcohn