A larger Ford Na­tion

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - EDITORIAL -

If ever a solid ar­gu­ment could be made for pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion, it is ev­i­dent in On­tario to­day. With three weeks left be­fore the June 7 vote, the Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives, un­der pop­ulist leader Doug Ford, hold a com­fort­able lead in the polls. The lat­est polling in­di­cates the PCs hold just un­der 41 per cent sup­port among de­cided vot­ers, fol­lowed by the NDP at 31 and Lib­er­als at 24.

One sur­mises those num­bers would give the Tories a slim ma­jor­ity or a com­fort­able mi­nor­ity. But seat track­ing pro­jec­tions give the PCs a whop­ping 84 seats, the NDP 38 and the gov­ern­ing Lib­er­als 2 de­spite hav­ing the sup­port of al­most one-quar­ter of vot­ers. The prob­a­bil­ity of a ma­jor­ity PC gov­ern­ment is tab­u­lated at 94 per cent.

If these pro­jec­tions hold true, Mr. Ford will be­come a pow­er­ful, con­ser­va­tive force across the na­tional po­lit­i­cal spec­trum. The out­come will tilt the coun­try’s most pop­u­lous prov­ince de­cid­edly to­ward the right. And the larger ques­tion, will Canada be far be­hind? And what does it mean here in the At­lantic re­gion?

Is this the start of a move­ment to take Canada more into line with Don­ald Trump’s vi­sion of Amer­ica? It’s no ac­ci­dent that many com­par­isons are be­ing made to la­bel Mr. Ford as ‘Trump North.’

Mr. Ford be­lieves in “look­ing af­ter our own first.” It’s a stark de­par­ture from the pan-Cana­dian vi­sion of in­clu­sive­ness and com­pas­sion — a view en­dorsed by a ma­jor­ity of At­lantic Cana­di­ans, based on an Ekos poll ear­lier this year. Mr. Ford sup­ports push­ing new­com­ers aside and giv­ing On­tario res­i­dents first op­tion for jobs. It doesn’t sound en­cour­ag­ing for At­lantic Cana­di­ans who have long found On­tario a favourite des­ti­na­tion for work and op­por­tu­nity.

It’s no sur­prise that Mr. Ford is anti-Mus­lim, has voted against LGBTQ issues, wants to curb wage in­creases, has drawn the ire of labour and has en­dorsed a can­di­date with ex­treme views against abor­tion.

Is this a case of On­tario res­i­dents align­ing with Mr. Ford’s views or a de­sire to de­feat Lib­eral Premier Kath­leen Wynne? There is no ques­tion that Mr. Ford’s mantra has ap­peal: Lower taxes, smaller gov­ern­ment, fewer reg­u­la­tions, com­mit­ments to pub­lic health care and ed­u­ca­tion and lit­tle in­ter­est in en­vi­ron­men­tal issues.

Mr. Ford’s plans to scut­tle efforts to com­bat global warm­ing will cause headaches for Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau. And his stance on phar­ma­care could de­ter­mine if this es­sen­tial na­tional pro­gram will pro­ceed.

At­lantic Cana­di­ans aren’t into di­vi­sive pol­i­tics. The Ekos poll finds that feel­ings of dis­place­ment are low­est in At­lantic Canada. Views on our eco­nomic fu­ture, pop­ulism, out­look and racial tol­er­ance put us in first as the most open re­gion in the coun­try. St. John’s, N.L., is the most open city in the coun­try. Hal­i­fax is tied in sixth spot.

Our shared val­ues and ties that bind com­mu­ni­ties are so­cial and eco­nomic re­al­i­ties. At­lantic Cana­di­ans will con­tinue to re­ject the pol­i­tics of fear and di­vi­sive­ness be­cause we pre­fer to see the best in peo­ple and events. We re­main con­fi­dent the an­gry On­tario wave won’t reach our shores.

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