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The Ontario election: What does Ford’s nation have in store for mining?

by Greg Klein | June 7, 2018

He reportedly promised to get Ring of Fire development started even if he had to climb onto a bulldozer to blaze a trail himself. Now Doug Ford and Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives have won a resounding majority, already apparent less than half an hour after polls closed and five days after Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne conceded defeat.

The Ontario election: What does Ford’s nation have in store for mining?

As a popular newcomer facing an increasingly unpopular incumbent,
Doug Ford needed few details to back up his platform.
(Photo: Ontario Progressive Conservatives)

Canada-wide, this has probably been the most closely watched provincial election outside Quebec for many years.

Celebrated by some as a populist and disliked by the establishment for the same reason, Ford was nevertheless granted a degree of civility that the media generally begrudged his late brother, former Toronto mayor Rob Ford. Although a veteran of municipal politics and a long-time PC member, this marks Doug Ford’s first foray as a provincial candidate.

Elegant for its simplicity was his party’s five-point plan, starting with “scrap the carbon tax.” He’d “cut gas prices by 10 cents a litre, reduce middle class income taxes by 20%, cut your hydro bills by 12%,” create “quality” jobs, slash government waste and “end hallway health care” with new beds and additional treatment.

No doubt more details will come. But his Ring of Fire rhetoric drew criticism for a lack of specifics. At a debate on Northern issues last month, the Ottawa Citizen quoted him saying, “For years, all we’ve heard is talk, talk, talk. No action whatsoever. We’re going to work with the people of the North, we’re going to work with the First Nations, we’re going to respect the treaties that are in place right now. But we’re not going to talk. We’re going to get in there, after the agreements, and get to work.”

According to the Citizen, the Liberal leader “practically threw up her hands. Doing things right takes time, she said, and the agreements you just mentioned are made by talking. ‘You’re just going to drive a bulldozer right across northern Ontario,’ she said.”

Earlier that month Ford announced a revenue-sharing plan for Northern communities, including natives, using provincial revenue from forestry and mining. Again, specifics were scarce but he beat a similar, more detailed, announcement from the Liberals by a few days.

Yet the issues that all parties either neglected in detail or ignored altogether have been documented by mining commentator Stan Sudol at The Republic of Mining and serialized in the Sudbury Star. Sudol wrote the piece with the election in mind, but it’s worth bookmarking for future reference. If the PCs were really serious about mining, they might even hire him as a special adviser.

In other election notes, leaders of all three main parties—plus the Greens—won their own ridings. But Wynne, who edged out her PC challenger by less than 200 votes and dragged the Liberals down to third-place status, announced her resignation as party leader.

Guelph elected Ontario’s first Green Party MPP, Mike Schreiner. Canada has just five other Greens elected provincially (three in British Columbia and one each in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island), along with a sole MP from B.C.

Ottawa Centre elected NDP candidate Joel Harden, who publicly supports the party’s extremist Leap Manifesto.

Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston re-elected PC Randy Hillier, defeating a challenge by NDPer and former MiningWatch activist Ramsey Hart.

The huge new northern riding of Mushkegowuk-James Bay—which hosts the Ring of Fire—elected the NDP’s Guy Bourgouin, maintaining a longstanding NDP tradition from the region’s former riding of Timmins-James Bay.

Kiiwetinoong, the massive new riding to the west, had no results available as of 10:30 p.m. local time.

While the election was considered “seismic” by some commentators, the most historic significance might have been high voter turnout on the last game of the Stanley Cup series.

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