Many of us in Ontario feel nothing but contempt -- visceral contempt -- for Doug Ford. But Tom Walkom writes that, for Justin Trudeau, Ford is a gift that will keep on giving:
The Liberals’ real not-so-secret weapon is Doug Ford.
In the morality play that is Canadian politics, the Ontario Conservative premier can easily be portrayed by left-liberals as a black-hatted villain. He is big, brash and unapologetic.
In 2015, the Liberals successfully typecast then Conservative leader Stephen Harper as a malevolent genius — a kind of Lex Luthor to Trudeau’s Clark Kent.
They are having less luck with Harper’s successor, Andrew Scheer. With his easy smile and dimpled cheeks, Scheer does not easily fit the supervillain stereotype. So the Liberals tried something else.
First, they tried to define Scheer as a puppet of Harper who, in their storyline, was still the hidden mastermind behind Canadian Conservativism.
Scheer is incompetent. Ford is much more than that:
Ford is the left-liberal’s nightmare. He opposes carbon pricing measures to deal with climate change; he opposes employment standards aimed at alleviating precarious work.
From his time at Toronto city hall, he has a reputation as a blowhard and bully. And while he does not espouse the protectionist policies of Donald Trump, he looks and acts like the U.S. president.
Ford handily defeated Kathleen Wynne’s provincial Liberals in this year’s Ontario election. But the federal Liberals are betting that this was a one-off event spurred not by love of Ford but by Wynne’s personal unpopularity.
In fact, by polarizing the electorate, Ford may well make it easier for Trudeau in Ontario. Ontario NDP supporters deserted their party in droves in 2015, in order to vote Liberal and defeat the Harper Conservatives. They may do so again to ensure that Fordism doesn’t gain a hold nationally.
Ford's opposition to Trudeau's carbon tax will work in Trudeau's favour:
While too low to do any substantive good [it] is just high enough to assuage Canadian guilt and allow voters to think they are making a sacrifice for the environment.
Second, the Liberals are proposing to rebate this new carbon tax back to Ontario voters via a formula that miraculously will leave the average person financially better off.
The carbon tax may not do much for the planet. But it could well keep Doug Ford from damaging it further.
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