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Ford rolls out Northern promises at NOMA

Ontario Progressive Conservative leader pledges to cut aviation fuel tax for Northern Ontario flights, implement resource revenue sharing and build road to Ring of Fire.
Doug Ford
Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford addresses the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association conference in Kenora on Wednesday, May 2, 2018. (Matt Vis,

KENORA, Ont. – Doug Ford continues to lay out his vision for Ontario as his campaign to be the province’s next premier took him before regional municipal leaders.

The Ontario Progressive Conservative leader addressed the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association annual spring conference in Kenora on Wednesday, announcing a few promises specific for the region if his party prevails in next month's provincial election.

Those platform pieces included a pledge to cut the aviation fuel tax on all flights to and from Northern Ontario, which is currently a 6.7 cent per litre burden on all commercial air travel and cargo delivery.

“This will make it cheaper to travel and will make it more affordable to ship goods in and out of Northern communities,” Ford said. “We recognize that for many parts of the north flying is not a luxury. It’s a necessity.”

In a 17-minute opening speech largely reminiscent of the well-worn talking points heard at his rallies, Ford reiterated his “cap taxes and trade Kathleen Wynne” goal to do away with the carbon tax and took the governing Liberals to task over their proposed budget that would put the province’s budget back into the red. 

The former Toronto city councillor also promised the gathering of elected municipal officials that they would have more flexibility and authority on how to spend money their communities receive from the province.

“Nothing drove me more crazy than the government of Ontario saying, ‘here’s X amount of dollars, but by the way, you’re only going to get that money if you spend it here. And if you don’t spend it here we’re going to take that money away,’” Ford said.

“We have a different philosophy. We’re going to give you the money. Who knows better how to support their community and community needs than each and every municipality?”

Ford also touched on plans for the natural resources, which serve as the lifeblood of many Northwestern Ontario communities.

The road to the Ring of Fire will get built, Ford added.

“When I talk to the forestry or the mining industry the No. 1 issue they’re facing is the red tape and bureaucracy,” Ford said. “That’s all I hear from mining and forestry. Let them do their job and get the government out of business and let businesses thrive.”

The PC leader also repeated his announcement, originally made Tuesday in Timmins, to introduce resource revenue sharing for northern communities, including Indigenous communities, on mining, forestry and aggregates.

He pledged to cut hospital wait times and eliminate “hallway health care.”

“We’re going to open 15,000 new long-term care beds in five years and an additional 15,000 – totalling 30,000 – over the next 10 years including beds that are needed right here in Northern Ontario,” Ford said.

During a limited question and answer session, Thunder Bay Coun. Iain Angus asked Ford to commit that a promise to reduce government spending by four per cent would not result in any further downloading onto municipalities.

“We can find efficiencies. When I criss-cross Ontario and I go to crowds and the public and say, ‘do you think we can find four cents on every dollar this government spends,’ they break out laughing at me. Only four cents,” Ford said.

“We have to start running this government like a business.”

Wynne and Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath are scheduled to address NOMA on Thursday.

Follow Matt Vis on Twitter: @MattVis

About the Author: Matt Vis

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