As he begins his first week of campaigning to be premier of Ontario, newly chosen PC Party Leader Doug Ford challenges the perception that he’s too rooted in the GTA to connect with voters around the province.
“Our message resonates more in the 705, the 519, 613, than it does in the 416,” he told reporters on Monday.
Ford was named leader of the PCs on Saturday after a tumultuous convention, put together quickly after former leader Patrick Brown quit following allegations against him of sexual misconduct.
“We’re going to win areas that have never went PC before,” Ford said.
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On Monday, Ford continued to reveal his platform, including plans to repeal the current sex-ed curriculum, reduce hydro rates, and eliminate the carbon tax.
He is the older brother of former Toronto city councillor and mayor Rob Ford, who died from cancer in March 2016.
Doug Ford also served as a Toronto city councillor, between 2010 and 2014. He has indicated he will try to get a seat in the provincial legislature representing Etobicoke North. The current MPP in that riding is Liberal Shafiq Qaadri.
Gary McNamara, mayor of Tecumseh, Ont., told CBC News that there are many people who believe the government is too Toronto-centric. (CBC)
As for how Ontario’s regions are feeling about a Ford on the provincial ballot, opinions seem to be mixed.
Gary McNamara, mayor of Tecumseh, Ont., near Windsor, told CBC News that Ford was “very ingrained in Toronto.”
“We’ve been saying all along that the province of Ontario is bigger than Toronto,” he said. “I don’t believe that Mr. Ford really understands northern Ontario, eastern, southwestern Ontario.”
Meanwhile, Conservative MP Michael Harris, who represents Kitchener-Conestoga, said he thinks people from all parts of Ontario will find something they like in Ford’s platform.
People are saying taxes are out of control, hydro is too unaffordable, we are still having long waits to access our health care,” he said. “Those issues generally across the province are similar, and his message of respect for the taxpayer, fighting for the little guy, resonate in communities just like this one.”
Conservative strategist Paul Demers, who is originally from Sudbury, agrees, telling CBC News that he thinks northern Ontario voters may find they have more in common with Ford than they thought.
“I think people will appreciate the honest approach he brings,” Demers said. “In the past, it was the blue collar factory workers, whether in the Soo or Kapuskasing, or in Sudbury, I think those people, are going to be very intrigued by Doug Ford.”