It’s going to be a very hot autumn for Doug Ford

TORONTO – If the summer was particularly hot, for Prime Minister Doug Ford, autumn promises to be even more hot, despite the drop in temperatures: the members of the provincial parliament will in fact return to Queen’s Park this week, for the start of the legislature of Ontario, amidst a thousand uncertainties. 

The publication of two bombshell reports on the questionable procedures adopted by the Ford government to build in some areas of the Greenbelt led to the resignation of two ministers “linked” to some builders: first, the Minister for Housing, Steve Clark (resignation preceded by those of his chief of staff); then, the Minister of Public and Business Service Delivery, Kaleed Rasheed. Shortly afterwards, the resignation of the Minister of Labor, Monte McNaughton, also arrived, not linked to the Greenbelt case, at least apparently.

After such an earthquake, Prime Minister Ford reversed his decision to open Greenbelt lands to developers, promising not to make any changes in the future and admitting that he had made a “mistake” in opening protected lands to housing development. The Greenbelt affair has had inevitable repercussions on Ford’s approval among the electorate: a poll by Angus Reid found that Ford’s approval ratings have fallen to an all-time low, with less than three in ten Ontarians, or about 28%, who still approve of the prime minister’s actions.

In an attempt to regain some consensus, Ford promised new housing legislation as part of his goal of building 1.5 million homes in ten years (a goal he hoped to achieve by building up part of the Greenbelt) and forging a “pact” with the new mayor of Toronto, Olivia Chow, “with the aim of achieving stability and long-term sustainability of Toronto’s finances”, while avoiding new taxes. An almost impossible undertaking, given that the Toronto city council has recently suggested new sources of revenue to address the $1 billion “gap” in its budget, including municipal tax increases on land transfer on luxury homes, the removal of the five-dollar-an-hour limit on on-street parking, and a tax on commercial parking.

Then, there is the school issue: Ontario teachers are still without contracts and no agreements have been signed with any of the four unions representing English and French language teachers in the province. The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) has tentatively agreed on a path to avoid a strike by agreeing to binding interest arbitration, but this has yet to be voted on by members; the bargaining unit representing Toronto high school teachers has publicly said it opposes the deal; The other three teachers unions have rejected the province’s offer of binding interest arbitration and will conduct strike votes in the next two months.

The return to Queen’s Park, therefore, does not promise to be easy for Prime Minister Doug Ford and the road is anything but downhill…

In the pic above, Doug Ford in a photo published by the prime minister himself on his Twitter / X (@fordnation)