'Interesting times': Political heavyweights assess Doug Ford's win in Ontario

As Ontario welcomes a new incoming premier and a seismic shift in the political landscape, we speak to three political heavyweights about what this means for the province, and the rest of Canada.

Many of Ford's promises contradictory, says former Ontario NDP leader

Ontario PC leader Doug Ford celebrates his party's election victory. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

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Doug Ford's election in Ontario means we are "condemned to live in interesting times," according to former Ontario NDP leader Howard Hampton.

"Getting the finances in order and also cutting taxes is going to make for some very interesting times in healthcare and education," said Hampton, who led the provincial party from 1996 to 2009.

"You're not going to get the deficit down, and also give tax cuts without making some serious cuts in healthcare and education," he told The Current's guest host Piya Chattopadhyay.

"Mr. Ford has promised a great number of things, and many of them are contradictory, so this is going to be interesting to see how it all works out."

Ford led the Progressive Conservatives to a majority victory yesterday, winning 76 seats. The NDP led by Andrea Horwath rose to become the official opposition with 40 seats, while Kathleen Wynne's Liberals lost official party status by dropping from a haul of 58 seats in 2014 to just seven this time around.

In a first for Ontario, Green party Leader Mike Schreiner won a seat in Guelph.

Howard Hampton, former leader of the Ontario NDP; Janet Ecker, former Progressive Conservative member of the Ontario legislature; and David Peterson, former Liberal premier of Ontario. (Jacques Boissinot/CP; Frank Gunn/CP; Hans Deryk/CP)

The vote was a call for "fiscal sanity," said Janet Ecker, a PC member of the Ontario legislature from 1995 to 2003.

"He's got the right priority, which is let's get Ontario's economy back on a solid footing," she told Chattopadhyay.

"Let's get the finances of the province back, let's make sure that we're getting the business investment that we need to have here, because Ontario has to do well for the rest of Canada to do well."

People wanted change, added Ecker, who was a senior cabinet minister in the governments of Mike Harris and Ernie Eves.

"The voters rejected Premier Wynne, took a look at Andrea Horwath, and landed on Premier Ford," she said.

Change is 'wholesome'

Political change is necessary, according to former Ontario Liberal premier David Peterson, because governments in power too long have a tendency to try to justify their own mistakes.

New governments are afforded some leeway in the beginning, but it's never long before they repeat the same mistake, he added.

"This is a cycle in politics, and frankly not an unwholesome cycle," said Peterson, who was premier from 1985 to 1990.

He argued, though, that Ford's promises could lead to problems.

"In terms of cutting taxes and offering spending in other areas, it doesn't all add up very well," he said.

PC Leader Doug Ford addresses crowd at his headquarters in Etobicoke on election night. 0:46

Hampton argued that Ford's policies on spending and climate change will put Ontario out of step with "where not only Canada wants to go, but where much of the world wants to go."

"He doesn't seem to realize that most of the budget in Ontario goes to health care and education, and you're not going to make significant cuts and you're not going to balance the budget without going after those systems."

Ecker disagreed. She said that "spending into oblivion or cutting frontline services is not the equation."

Listen to the full episode near the top of this page.

This segment was produced by The Current's Noushin Ziafati, Willow Smith and Lara O'Brien.


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