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Editorial: Ford Nation?

Ontario PC Leader Doug Ford
Ontario PC Leader Doug Ford - Submitted

If ever a solid argument could be made for proportional representation, it’s in Ontario today. With three weeks left before the June 7 vote, the Progressive Conservatives, under populist leader Doug Ford, hold a comfortable lead in the polls. The latest polling indicates the PCs have just under 41 per cent support among decided voters, followed by the NDP at 31 and Liberals at 24.

You might surmise these numbers would give the Tories a slim majority or a comfortable minority on voting day. But seat-tracking projections give the PCs a whopping 84 seats, the NDP 38 and the governing Liberals two, despite the latter party having the support of almost one quarter of voters.

The probability of a majority PC government is tabulated at 94 per cent.

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If these projections hold true, Ford will become a powerful conservative force across the national political spectrum. The outcome will tilt the country’s most populous province decidedly toward the right.

And so we have the larger question, will Canada be far behind? And what does it mean in Atlantic Canada?

Is this the start of a movement bringing Canada more in line with Donald Trump’s vision of America?

It’s no accident that some are labelling Ford “Trump North.”

He’s said he believes in “looking after our own first.”

That’s a stark departure from the pan-Canadian vision of inclusiveness and compassion — a view endorsed by a majority of Atlantic Canadians, based on an EKOS poll earlier this year.

Ford supports pushing newcomers aside and giving Ontario residents first option for jobs, which doesn’t bode well for Atlantic Canadians, who have long found Ontario a favourite destination for work opportunities.

It’s no surprise that Ford has voted against LGBTQ issues, wants to curb wage increases, has drawn the ire of labour and has endorsed a candidate with extreme views against abortion.

And there is no question Ford’s mantra has appeal: lower taxes, smaller government, fewer regulations, commitments to public health care and education and little interest in environmental issues.

Ford’s plans to scuttle efforts to combat global warming will cause headaches for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. And his stance on pharmacare could determine if this essential national program will proceed.

Atlantic Canadians aren’t generally into divisive politics. The EKOS poll finds that feelings of displacement are lowest in Atlantic Canada. Views on our economic future, populism, outlook and racial tolerance put us in first as the most open region in the country. St. John’s was deemed the most open city in the country, with Halifax tied for sixth spot.

Our shared values and ties that bind communities are social and economic realities. Atlantic Canadians will continue to reject the politics of fear and divisiveness because we prefer to see the best in people and events.

Let’s hope the angry Ontario wave won’t reach our shores.

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