Ford encouraged Progressive Conservative members to continue to be optimistic and focus on an agenda of optimism in seeking to maintain strong support from Ontario voters as the Tories look ahead to the next general election cycle in 2026. Pictured: Ontario Premier Doug Ford. Photo Credit: Doug Ford/X.
Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives flocked to Niagara last weekend for the party’s 2024 Policy Conference at the Niagara Falls Convention Centre.
More than 1,000 Tories made their way to Niagara to talk about policy, the Ford government’s record, and preparation for the next election when the Progressive Conservatives seek a third consecutive term in 2026.
Ford made his way to Niagara slightly in advance of the conference to meet with Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati. Local Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) Sam Oosterhoff also joined the meeting.
In his keynote speech to Progressive Conservative party members at the conference, Ford touted his government’s record on building new hospitals, investing in infrastructure, attracting foreign investment, and lowering costs for taxpayers.
He also committed to continuing to cut red tape, build more homes, and fight the federal carbon tax.
“I’m thrilled to be here in Niagara Falls,” said Ford in beginning his speech at the conference. “It’s great to see so many of you here.”
Ford spoke at length about the record of the former Liberal government, led by Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne.
He said the previous government left a lot of cleaning up to do for the Ford government, but that significant progress has been made and the province is heading in the right direction.
Ford also noted that his Progressive Conservative government won an even larger majority when seeking re-election in 2022 than the party won when it first formed government in 2018.
“It’s absolutely amazing how far we’ve come,” said Ford. “Together, we’ve built a new Progressive Conservative coalition. A coalition that’s winning ridings we haven’t won in decades.”
Ford encouraged Progressive Conservative members to continue to be optimistic and focus on an agenda of optimism in seeking to maintain strong support from Ontario voters as the Tories look ahead to the next general election cycle in 2026.
Ford also noted than more than 700,000 new jobs have been created in Ontario since his party first formed government in 2018 and that he has not raised a single tax on businesses or individuals since being elected over five years ago.
In talking about specific deliverables for Niagara, Ford noted the government is working on bringing GO Transit to the Niagara region to better connect Niagara with the rest of the province.
Ford’s rhetoric wasn’t all positive, however. He spent some time to aim at the Ontario Liberal Party’s new leader, former Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie.
“Leadership matters,” declared Ford.
“We know Bonnie was the Queen of the carbon tax,” said Ford in reflecting on Crombie’s time as a Member of Parliament in Ottawa. “She never met a tax she didn’t like.”
Ford also criticized the growth of property taxes in Mississauga under Crombie’s watch, her opposition to building Highway 413, and Mississauga’s shrinking population.
It was clear from Ford’s remarks that he considers Crombie to be his main rival, as he didn’t spending any time talking about the NDP, the party that currently forms the official Opposition at Queen’s Park.
Ford compared Crombie’s record of tax hikes to his record of tax cuts, specifically mentioning moves to reduce the gas tax, scrap road tolls and end license plate sticker fees.
In closing his speech, Ford encouraged delegates to interact with party officials and MPPs to ensure the government understands the priorities of voters and taxpayers in all regions of Ontario.
This was the Ontario Progressive Conservatives’ first policy conference since the pandemic. Members last met for a policy convention in 2019, just one year after forming government.
Jay Goldberg is the Ontario Director at the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. He previously served as a policy fellow at the Munk School of Public Policy and Global Affairs. Jay holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Toronto.