It has been less than a week since the Progressive Conservative’s decisive victory in the Ontario election, yet already there have been a few indications as to the philosophy and approach of the new government. As the tumultuous G7 meeting wound up over the past weekend, and Canada-US relations looked to be in the worst shape of the past few decades, a number of Conservative politicians across Canada publicly expressed support for the federal Liberal government in their defense of Canada’s interests in the ongoing trade negotiations. Premier-elect Doug Ford was one of those conservatives, as he sent out a positive message that he stood “shoulder to shoulder” with the Prime Minister in protecting Canada’s interests and vital Ontario jobs in the NAFTA talks.
Another commentary from Ford pertained to the Al-Quds rally that took place over the past weekend. This event takes place annually, and speakers at it typically call for the elimination of all Israelis and Zionists. This year’s version was no exception. A number of Hezbollah flags were seen flying at this rally, which is at a minimum pretty questionable considering that Hezbollah is banned in Canada as a terrorist group. Reacting to this rally, Ford commented that blatantly racist or anti-Semitic events like this would no longer be part of the landscape in Ontario.
On another hot-button issue, Ford weighed in on the impending Pride parade. When asked if he planned to participate in the Toronto Pride parade this year, he responded that he would be happy to attend as long as the police were permitted once again to be there in uniform. Back in 2016, the organization behind the parade made the controversial decision to exclude police in uniform, despite the fact that police had previously been participants for many years. This decision was seen as inappropriate for a number of reasons, especially considering that Pride Toronto continues to receive a significant amount of tax dollars to stage the event.
All of these interventions on Doug Ford’s part were sensible, measured and expressed a point of view that the majority of Ontarians could be expected to support. Despite the post-election histrionics of many on the left about the apocalypse that was imminent as a conservative government with Doug Ford as leader took over the helm, these early indications suggest there is no reason for alarm. If the new Ontario government can maintain this tone of non-partisan common sense on such important policy issues as US trade relations and keep an even keel on potentially explosive matters such as Pride, racism and anti-Semitism, the majority of Ontarians will be very pleased with that approach.
Catherine Swift is currently President and CEO of Working Canadians (www.workingcanadians.ca. Prior to that, Catherine Swift had been with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business since September 1987, initially as Chief Economist. She became Chair in June 1999 after being named Chief Executive Officer in July 1997 and President in May of 1995. Her various responsibilities included coordinating policy issues at federal, provincial and municipal levels of government, representing CFIB with politicians, government, business, media and other groups.
Ms. Swift has worked with the federal government in Ottawa holding several positions with the Departments of Consumer and Corporate Affairs, Industry and Communications. Her areas of specialization included corporate and industrial analysis and international trade. Catherine Swift has a MA in Economics.
She has published numerous articles in journals, magazines and other media on such small business issues as free trade, finance, entrepreneurship and women small business owners. Ms. Swift is a Past President of the Empire Club of Canada, a former Director of the C.D. Howe Institute and past President of the International Small Business Congress. She was cited in 2003 and again in 2012 as one of the top 100 most powerful women in Canada by the Women’s Executive Network.