It’s been a week since Doug Ford assumed the helm of the largest province in the country, and he’s been doing things.
So far, he’s picked a fight with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over asylum seekers in Ontario, he's put a halt to the carbon tax business, and an anti-scalping law, he's said he wants to take another look at how to provide more oversight to the cops, he's fired a few people, and he's not yet sure how to regulate vaping.
If former Premier Kathleen Wynne is watching, it might hit a bit too close to home: many of the early decisions by the Progressive Conservatives target laws passed by the Liberals during her term.
But Ford insists, via spokesman, that “he wants more time to consult and examine the laws before they come into effect.”
Here’s a look at what this first week brought us.
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Doug Ford put the federal government on notice: his administration will not cover a cent of the costs associated with the influx of irregular border crossers that are making their way into the province, and seeking asylum.
His government is withdrawing from a cooperation agreement previous premier Kathleen Wynne signed that relates to the resettlement of asylum seekers, the Toronto Star reported.
“The federal government encouraged illegal border crossers to come into our country, and the federal government continues to usher people across the U.S.-Quebec border into Ontario,” said spokesperson Simon Jefferies, going on to say this had resulted in a “housing crisis and threats to the services that Ontario families depend on.”
The news emerged the same day that Trudeau met with Ford for the first time. Afterwards, Trudeau suggested that the premier didn’t have a full understanding of Canada’s obligations under international law when it comes to asylum seekers. Under both international and Canadian law, irregular entry — meaning outside of the official ports of entry — into a country to seek asylum is not consider “illegal.”
During his election, Ford promised to put an end to the cap-and-trade system, which essentially caps carbon outflow and makes companies pay big bucks for their emissions.
This week he delivered on that promise.
The new premier of Ontario announced Tuesday that the carbon tax on residents, which he calls a “government cash grab,” has met its end.
In Ford’s quest to get Ontarians “out of the carbon tax business” he also vowed to focus on getting citizens lower gas prices, lower energy bills and more jobs.
“Every cent from the cap-and-trade slush fund is money that has been taken out of the pockets of Ontario families and businesses,” said Ford. “We believe that this money belongs back in the pockets of people.
On Tuesday, the premier’s office confirmed it is suspending portions of Ontario’s anti-scalping law that would have prohibited the resale of concert and event tickets that are 50% or more above their original price tag.
“The previous government attempted to institute a cap on ticket re-sales with no way to enforce that cap, resulting in less consumer protection. We have paused the implementation of this section until we can review this provision in full to make sure it is in the best interest of Ontarians,” Ford spokesperson Simon Jefferies wrote in an email.
Opposition leader Andrea Horwath criticized Ford's moves as anti consumer. "Doug Ford has taken the side of scalper-bots, helping them to rip off and gouge Ontario families without an end in sight," Horwath said.
A hold on more police accountability measures
The premier postponed the implementation of the Special Investigation Unit Act in Ontario, which was designed to give the civilian police watchdog greater authority.
The new legislation promised to the SIU power to lay a wider range of criminal charges, impose sanctions on police officers who do not co-operate during investigations, look into current police officers and possibly investigate former officers too.
But Ford believes the act initiated by the Liberal government gets in the way of police efforts.
“We believe that the previous government’s Bill 175 hurts policing efforts in the province and undermines confidence in the police,” he said. “Law-abiding people in this province should never feel unsafe when dealing with the people who protect us. And Ontario’s hard-working police officers deserve to be treated with respect.”
Ford said the government will undergo “a full investigation of the legislation” before any decisions are made.
The chief scientist shown the door
On Wednesday, Molly Shoichet, Ontario’s first chief scientist officer, announced that she had been fired.
Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government hired Shoichet, a biomedical engineer, to counsel them and promote the province’s scientific research abroad.
The government is now looking for a “suitable and qualified replacement” Simon Jefferies, Ford’s spokesman said Wednesday. Ford also reportedly fired Ontario’s chief investment officer, Allan O’Dette.
Ford put a hold on changes to the Smoke Free Ontario act that would ban vaping anywhere that prohibits smoking.
Liberals planned on implementing a new version of the Smoke-Free Ontario Act covering both tobacco and vaping. The new act would have banned vaping everywhere smoking isn’t allowed, from bar patios to schools and any youth recreational facilities.
The same rules for selling tobacco would have applied to vaping products, too.
“The government will work with the public, experts and businesses to re-examine the evidence related to vaping as a smoking cessation tool to ensure that any changes are in the best interests of everyone and protect Ontarians’ health and safety,” Simon Jefferies said in an email Wednesday.
Vapor Advocates of Ontario (VAO) are pleased with the Ford government’s actions.
“The provincial regulations need to align with Health Canada’s stance on vaping as a less harmful alternative to smoking to ensure the industry is clear on the legal expectations from both levels of governments,” said Shaun Casey, president of the Canadian Vaping Association.
Cover image: Chris Young/The Canadian Press