Hun­dreds brave ice storm to at­tend lo­cal Ford ral­lies

Ottawa Citizen - - CITY - BLAIR CRAW­FORD bcraw­ford@post­media.com

Doug Ford rolled into Ot­tawa on Mon­day, ham­mer­ing away on some tra­di­tional Con­ser­va­tive tar­gets — Hy­dro One and Lib­eral spend­ing, for ex­am­ple — and un­veil­ing a new cam­paign pledge: elim­i­nat­ing pro­vin­cial taxes for work­ers earn­ing min­i­mum wage.

“My heart breaks for peo­ple on min­i­mum wage,” the On­tario Con­ser­va­tive leader told a rally Mon­day night at the Ne­pean Sport­splex. “The Lib­er­als de­cided to put (min­i­mum wage) up to $14, but what peo­ple don’t re­al­ize is that they’re get­ting gouged by higher taxes. We took a com­mon­sense ap­proach,” Ford said.

The an­nounce­ment, the first plank in the Con­ser­va­tive plat­form for the June 7 pro­vin­cial elec­tion, would elim­i­nate pro­vin­cial in­come tax for On­tario res­i­dents who earn less than $30,000.

Close to 700 braved Mon­day’s ice storm to at­tend the rally, which fol­lowed a Ford ap­pear­ance at a noon-hour rally in Or­léans. Led by Lisa MacLeod, MPP for Ne­peanCar­leton, the rally also at­tracted other Tory stal­warts, in­clud­ing re­tired Con­ser­va­tive se­na­tor Mar­jorie LeBre­ton, MP Lisa Raitt and for­mer MPPs Claude Ben­nett and Gary Guzzo. For­mer Ot­tawa mayor Larry O’Brien was also there.

But it was Doug Ford the crowd had come to see, hoist­ing their “Doug for the peo­ple” signs, whoop­ing at Ford’s prom­ises to cut taxes, elim­i­nate waste and axe pro­grams such as On­tario’s Green En­ergy Act and car­bon tax.

“The days of goug­ing the tax­pay­ers are done,” Ford said. “We will go line by line through the bud­get and we will squeeze out ev­ery bit of waste there is.”

Days of goug­ing the tax­pay­ers are done. We will go line by line through the bud­get and (squeeze) out ev­ery bit of waste.

Men­tions of Premier Kath­leen Wynne and Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau drew hearty jeers.

“I be­lieve he is the one who can bring the real change that needs to hap­pen,” said Au­gust Strot­mann of Bar­rhaven. “I’m tired of the Lib­er­als be­ing in power so long.”

Ge­or­ganne Burke and friend Ber­nadette Pat­ton were also keen Ford sup­port­ers, tak­ing front row seats be­hind their party’s leader.

“I was one of those peo­ple who sup­ported him from the be­gin­ning and I can’t say that I am as proud of any­thing provin­cially as that,” Burke said. “He’s a great guy and I think he’s go­ing to be a fan­tas­tic premier.”

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