Doug Ford ends northern Ontario tour without any northern promises
PC leader sticks to broad provincial themes of cutting taxes, finding efficiencies, defeating Kathleen Wynne
Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford wrapped up his three-day campaign-style tour of northern Ontario Wednesday night without making any new campaign promises specifically for the north.
Ford's trip ended with an evening rally in Sudbury, after stops earlier this week in Thunder Bay, Sioux Lookout, Dryden and Kenora.
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"It's great to be in the north, as I say, with the real folks of Ontario," Ford told the crowd of about 200 people at Cambrian College. The attendance matched the crowd Ford drew Tuesday night in Thunder Bay.
Ford said the Sudbury rally was the reason he could not attend a leaders' debate in Toronto Wednesday evening organized by the black community, and attended by Premier Kathleen Wynne, NDP leader Andrea Horwath and Green Party leader Mike Schreiner.
At the rally, Ford spoke for about 20 minutes, shook hands and chatted with those in attendance for about 15 minutes, did a three-minute scrum with reporters, then was whisked off to the airport by his staff at 7:30.
Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford arrives at rally in Sudbury. <a href="https://t.co/x67K7qSqOW">pic.twitter.com/x67K7qSqOW</a>—@CBCSudbury
For a second straight day, Ford's speech did not mention the Ring of Fire mining deposit. Last month, Ford vowed his government would start building roads to the mining area on the James Bay lowlands "If I have to hop on that bulldozer myself."
Nothing frustrates someone in mining more than "a politician sitting at Queen Park who doesn't have a clue about mining dictating to people that are experts at mining about how to do their job," Ford said Wednesday.
"We're going to make sure we listen to the people in the mining industry," he told the Sudbury audience. "There's a lot of smart people out there (in the mining industry) telling me how we can create more jobs, more opportunities for people not only here in Sudbury, but throughout the north."
Ford was introduced by Sudbury PC candidate Troy Crowder, a former NHLer. Crowder is trying to knock off the Liberal incumbent, Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault.
"People are ready for change," Crowder said in an interview Wednesday. He said Wynne has "taken northern Ontario for granted for a long time and unfortunately Glenn hasn't been able to deliver on what a minister probably should be able to deliver on.
"Doug has a mindset of trying to stop waste, be accountable and that its exactly what I am." said Crowder, calling the PC leader "a very no-nonsense, let's get it done" person.
Ford has however faced criticism for not having a platform and for backing down from a promise to provide a full costed plan. Election day is eight weeks away.