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June 29, 2018: Doug Ford is sworn in as premier of Ontario during a ceremony at Queen's Park in Toronto.

Mark Blinch/The Canadian Press

On June 29, Doug Ford was officially sworn in as premier of Ontario after the Progressive Conservatives, riding a wave of populist anger at Kathleen Wynne’s government, wiped out the Liberals in the provincial election.

He promised radical changes to government spending, climate-change policy, hydro rates, education and more. Within a few short months, he did just that. But the rapid-fire changes have created friction between the province and cities, the federal government and courts who have debated whether some of Mr. Ford’s policies are constitutional. And it’s still unclear how Mr. Ford will pay for some of the things he’s set out to do.

Check back here for an up-to-date primer on the transformation in Ontario and what it means for you.

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Table of contents


Who’s who

Doug Ford has had a few incarnations before becoming premier: Son of a Tory MPP, brother and right-hand man to controversial mayor Rob Ford, then a party leadership contender to replace Patrick Brown after he was ousted over sexual-assault allegations. Since the change in government, Ontarians have seen a lot of familiar faces in cabinet, including Tory veterans who ran against Mr. Ford for the party leadership, such as Christine Elliott, Caroline Mulroney and former interim leader Vic Fedeli.

But less than seven months after taking office, the Premier reshuffled that cabinet a wave of scandals at Queen’s Park. His economic development and trade minister, Jim Wilson, was accused of sexual assault and forced to resign, though the government initially said Mr. Wilson was stepping aside to seek addiction treatment. One of Mr. Ford’s aides, Andrew Kimber, also quit for allegedly sending sexually inappropriate text messages. Mr. Ford’s correction minister was also demoted after revelations that he and his law firm were embroiled in several lawsuits.

More reading: Doug Ford and his people

Meet Dean French, the political unknown who has become an omnipresent force in Ford’s government

2014 Globe investigation: Doug Ford at Deco: The inside story

2018 campaign profile: Doug Ford’s art of the deal


Municipal elections

Just months before the Oct. 22 municipal elections, Mr. Ford’s government passed legislation to cut the number of Toronto city council positions from 47 to 25 – ward races for which candidates had already spent months fundraising and door-knocking. The Better Local Government Act also cancelled the elections of regional board chairs in Peel, York, Niagara and Muskoka. Mr. Ford, who served as a Toronto city councillor from 2010 until 2014, said the changes were meant to “dramatically improve the decision-making process” for local governments. While some suburban councillors – many of them former allies of Mr. Ford’s – supported the Premier’s plan, many others accused him of using his new role to settle old grudges. Several council candidates joined forces for a lawsuit against the changes to the ward system. On Sept. 10, Ontario Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba struck down the legislation, but Mr. Ford defied him, saying he would use the Constitution’s notwithstanding clause to slash the city council anyway. An appeal court overturned Justice Belobaba’s ruling, but the law’s fate won’t be completely settled until the full appeal is heard. In the end, Torontonians voted or a 25-member council, and returned John Tory to the mayoralty. Here’s a full list of who won.

More reading: Municipal politics

Toronto election 2018: What is going on? A guide

Explainer: What is the notwithstanding clause and how can Ford use it?

Marcus Gee: Doug Ford is challenging the rule of law itself


Hydro

Ontario’s high electricity rates were a divisive issue in the 2018 election, with the PCs and NDP promising big changes at Hydro One, which the Wynne Liberals partly privatized. During the campaign, Mr. Ford threatened to fire Hydro One’s CEO, Mayo Schmidt, and the whole board, and once in office, he threatened to tear up employment contracts at the utility. Mr. Schmidt announced his immediate retirement on July 11, and the entire board resigned. By The Globe and Mail’s estimates, Mr. Schmidt’s exit could give him about $8-million in compensation for stock awards, plus $1-million in bonuses and pension payments and a $400,000 payment announced by Hydro One. The utility also has to pay the 14 previous board members $4.9-million for their stock holdings.

The PC government plans to introduce legislation to increase “transparency and accountability” at Hydro One, which announced a new board on Aug. 14. Mr. Ford also says he will bring hydro rates down with accounting changes and the return of Hydro One dividends to taxpayers, each of which would cost about $400-million.

Ministers to watch: Greg Rickford (Energy, Northern Development and Mines)



More reading: The politics of your hydro bill

Explainer: Why does Ontario’s electricity cost so much?

Andrew Willis: Doug Ford kneecaps Hydro One


Carbon pricing and environment

Under the Wynne government, Ontario – Canada’s second-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, after Alberta – joined with Quebec and California in a cap-and-trade market to bring emissions down. Mr. Ford scrapped cap and trade, calling it a “government cash grab” and claiming its elimination would lower gas prices. But the end of cap and trade will also cost the province $3-billion in lost revenue over four years, according to the province’s Financial Accountability Officer.

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Cap and trade’s demise also put Mr. Ford on a collision course with the federal government, whose carbon framework requires each province to have either a tax or a cap-and-trade system that meets national standards, or else Ottawa will impose its own carbon price. Ottawa announced late July they are drastically reducing the scope of its planned carbon tax to address competitiveness concerns as it prepares to replace Ontario’s cap-and-trade system with its own levy. Mr. Ford is challenging Ottawa’s right to do that, backing a legal challenge by the Saskatchewan government of Premier Scott Moe, but the two have little support from their counterparts in other provinces. In addition to the legal battle, Mr. Ford’s government said it will move forward with a constitutional challenge to the federal government’s plan to improve the carbon tax.

In the province’s first fical update on Nov. 14, the Ontario government said they are axing three oversight officers, including the environment commissioner, which will be rolled into the auditor general’s office.

Mr. Ford is also scrapping the Green Energy Act, a 2009 law to support renewable power, and scuttling several incentive programs that were designed to help Ontarians reduce their carbon footprints. Here are some of the changes that could affect you:

  • Scrapping the 19-year-old Drive Clean program for testing vehicle emissions, replacing it with a a system focusing on heavy-duty vehicles only.
  • Cancelling hundreds of renewable energy projects, complicating plans by municipalities, farmers and First Nations to develop small-scale electricity generation. Taxpayers could be on the hook for millions of dollars as owners invoke compensation clauses to recover money they’ve already spent.
  • Cancelling the GreenON rebate program, which helped homeowners install energy-efficient heat pumps, insulation or other features. Existing rebates will be honoured until the end of October.

Ministers to watch: Rod Phillips (Environment), John Yakabuski (Natural Resources and Forestry)

More reading: Emissions and environment

Ontario’s short-term priorities include dismantling environmental programs

Experts divided on effectiveness of carbon pricing


Education

Mr. Ford ran for office promising to roll back Wynne-era overhauls of Ontario’s school curriculum. One was math: Wynne-era guidelines emphasized “discovery” methods of creative problem-solving, but Mr. Ford wants more basic methods to be taught. But the most contentious issue by far is sex education. The 2015 curriculum, which added topics like consent, digital safety and same-sex relationships, has divided educators who say it’s a necessary modernization from social conservatives who say it’s age-inappropriate.

Ontario’s Education Minister said in mid-July that the 1998 sex-ed curriculum would come back into effect this fall, but later she appeared to backtrack, saying consent, cyber safety and gender identity would still be taught. What the province ended up with was an interim curriculum that left many teachers confused about what they can and can’t teach. Mr. Ford has threatened consequences against teachers who continue to use the 2015 curriculum, and has even publicized a hotline to report teachers who do so. Ontario’s elementary-school teachers are seeking an injunction to keep the 2015 curriculum, and in the meantime, the largest teachers' unions say they’ll defend educators who keep using it.

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At the postsecondary level, Mr. Ford is threatening to cut funding to universities and colleges unless they adopt “free speech” policies to protect the right of controversial speakers. Mr. Ford promised such a crackdown during the election, which came after a string of high-profile campus protests against various speakers, including a white nationalist who tried to attend a Q&A event in Waterloo. Schools have until Jan. 1 to come up with policies that meet the government’s criteria.

Ministers to watch: Lisa Thompson (Education), Merrilee Fullerton (Training, Colleges and Universities)

More reading: Education

The differences between Ontario’s interim sex-ed curriculum and 2015's

Fact or fiction: What was actually in Ontario’s contentious sex-ed curriculum?


Social assistance

In an effort to remake Ontario’s social-assistance system, the Progressive Conservative government announced reductions to planned increases in rates for two of the largest programs in Ontario’s social safety net, Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Supprt Program, which have a combined budget of $8.7-billion. Former Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals approved annual increases of 3 per cent over the next three years. Nearly a million people use the two systems.

The government also announced it would cancel Ontario’s basic income pilot project, which was meant to provide money to 4,000 low-income people in Hamilton, Thunder Bay and Lindsay for three years. Ontario Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod said the current system is “too disjointed and expensive,” and blamed the Liberal government for creating a system that spend money on “handouts that actually do little if anything to break the cycle of poverty.” It is not clear how or when the project would wind down.

In the province’s first fical update on Nov. 14, the Ontario government promised a new tax cut for low-income workers making less than $30,000 a year, a variation of Mr. Ford’s promise to end income taxes to every worker making minimum wage. Called the Low-Income Individuals and Families Tax credit, or LIFT, the initiative would provide some 1.1 million workers up to $850 in personal income tax relief and $1,700 for couples, the government said, ensuring a single person who works full-time at minimum wage pays no personal income tax.

One line in the budget also said the government is eliminating rent control on new units to increase house supply across the province, but says rent control will remain in place for current tenants. This would be a reversal of sorts from an initiative the previous Liberal government put in place, which imposed rent control on all buildings constructed after 1991.

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Ministers to watch: Lisa MacLeod (Children, Community and Social Services)

More reading: Social Services

Ford government vows basic-income pilot will receive ‘lengthy runway’ before cancellation

Campbell Clark: It’s in everyone’s interests to finish Ontario’s basic income pilot project


Asylum seekers

For many asylum seekers crossing the U.S. border into Quebec and Manitoba, Toronto – which last year affirmed its status as a sanctuary city – has become a crowded refuge. The rising number of mostly Nigerian asylum seekers has strained the resources of the city’s shelters, and Toronto’s Mayor John Tory asked for more funding from Ottawa and Queen’s Park. Instead, in July, Mr. Ford withdrew provincial support for asylum-seeker resettlement, saying the federal government had created a problem they must fix themselves. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau questioned whether Mr. Ford was well-informed about Canada’s refugee situation and its obligations to asylum seekers under international law, and later told Mr. Tory that the federal government will support Toronto’s efforts to provide for refugees. “Canadians, we’re there for each other,” Mr. Trudeau said. Two weeks later, Mr. Trudeau created a new cabinet post to address migrant and asylum-seeker crossings, and chose Bill Blair, a former Toronto police chief, as Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction.

Here is a fact check on asylum seekers in Canada.

Ministers to watch: Lisa MacLeod (Children, Community and Social Services)

Growing numbers of refugee claimants

in Toronto shelters

Average per night

9,000

Non-refugee

shelter users

Refugee claimant

shelter users

Projected

increase

8,000

7,000

6,000

5,000

4,000

3,000

2,000

2016

2017

2018

JOHN SOPINSKI/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

SOURCE:toronto.ca; Immigration

and Refugee Board of Canada; unhcr

Growing numbers of refugee claimants

in Toronto shelters

Average per night

9,000

Non-refugee

shelter users

Refugee claimant

shelter users

Projected

increase

8,000

7,000

6,000

5,000

4,000

3,000

2,000

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

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N

D

J

F

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M

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J

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2016

2017

2018

JOHN SOPINSKI/THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE:toronto.ca;

Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada; unhcr

Growing numbers of refugee claimants

in Toronto shelters

Average per night

9,000

Non-refugee

shelter users

Refugee claimant

shelter users

Projected

increase

8,000

7,000

6,000

5,000

4,000

3,000

2,000

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

J

F

M

A

M

J

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A

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2016

2017

2018

JOHN SOPINSKI/THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE:toronto.ca; Immigration

and Refugee Board of Canada; unhcr

More reading: Asylum in Canada

Doug Ford, Toronto Mayor John Tory meet to talk asylum seekers and gun violence

Conservative plan to get Trump to make a new deal muddies the waters around Canada’s asylum-seekers policy

Doug Saunders: There’s no migration crisis - the crisis is political opportunism


Crime and gun violence

Toronto is among the safest large cities in North America, though a rising number of deadly shootings this summer have shaken public confidence in that. Toronto’s mayor and police chief blame gang activity for the rise in violence, and the city is pressing the province to tighten bail conditions for people convicted of previous gun crimes. During the campaign, Mr. Ford also suggested bringing back the controversial Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy (TAVIS), a now-disbanded police task force that deployed rapid-response teams to neighbourhoods that had seen violent crimes, but also disproportionately targeted black and Indigenous men for street checks – better known as carding – and was accused of racial profiling.

After a deadly mass shooting on the Danforth strip, Toronto City Council pressed Ottawa to ban the sale of handguns in the city, and asked Ontario to ban the sale of ammunition. But Mr. Ford opposes a handgun ban. Instead, he pledged $25-million in funding over four years for police and the court system, and ruled out new funding for community programs aimed at reducing violence.

Ministers to watch: Sylvia Jones (Community Safety and Corectional Services)

More reading on guns and crime

Gun violence in Toronto: A primer on this summer’s shootings and how politicians are responding

As gun violence spikes, Toronto faces a reckoning on the root causes of tragedy


Spending and the bottom line

Mr. Ford ran for office vowing $6-billion in spending efficiencies – but without cutting public-service jobs. He never explained in detail how he would pay for that, and it’s unclear what effect his promised cost-cutting measures so far (freezing salaries for senior public-sector executives, a freeze on most government hiring except police and correctional workers, a halt to discretionary spending on everything from travel to newspaper subscriptions) would have on the province’s bottom line.

In the province’s first fical update on Nov. 14, Ontario’s Finance Miniser Vic Fedeli revealed the deficit now stands at $14.5-billion, a reduction of $500-million since the Progressive Conservatives took office. Mr. Fideli said the province saved an additional $3.2-billion in program expenses (reducing spending, including cancelling planned tax increases and the previous Liberal government’s cap-and-trade program).

Ministers to watch: Vic Fedeli (Finance), Peter Bethlenfalvy (Treasury Board)



More reading: Ontario’s economy

David Parkinson: Doug Ford’s fiscal crackdown begins with a glaring waste of taxpayers' money

Ontario divided: Anger, economics and the fault lines of 2018’s election


Trade, Trump and Trudeau

Mr. Ford took office amid a bitter trade war between the United States, its NAFTA partners, Europe and China. Mr. Ford (who, like his predecessor, holds his cabinet’s Intergovernmental Affairs portfolio), has said he would present a united front with the Trudeau government during the complex negotiations for a new North American free-trade agreement, which made a breakthrough on Sept. 30 with the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. The new deal would effectively shield Canada from future auto-industry tariffs, to the relief of Ontario manufacturers, but the Canadians also failed to get Washington to lift punitive tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum that it imposed in June. USMCA also gives U.S. producers access to a percentage of Canada’s protected dairy market, a potential threat to Ontario dairy farmers. Mr. Ford responded to USMCA with cautious optimism, and said his government would be speaking with steel, aluminum, manufacturing and agriculture leaders to see how it will affect them. “We will make sure that we protect our economy, our jobs, and the people of Ontario,” the Premier’s office said in a statement.

Ministers to watch: Todd Smith (Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade)

Canadian trade with U.S.

Imports/exports with U.S. as a % of provincial

GDP in 2016

29

16%

31

33

39

23

13

49

14

50

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: TREVOR TOMBE; U.S. CENSUS

BUREAU, BEA AND INDUSTRY CANADA

Canadian trade with U.S.

Imports/exports with U.S. as a % of provincial GDP in 2016

29

16%

31

33

39

23

13

49

14

50

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: TREVOR TOMBE; U.S. CENSUS BUREAU,

BEA AND INDUSTRY CANADA

Canadian trade with U.S.

Imports/exports with U.S. as a % of provincial GDP in 2016

29

16%

31

33

39

23

13

49

14

50

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: TREVOR TOMBE; U.S. CENSUS BUREAU, BEA AND INDUSTRY CANADA

More reading: Trade and tariffs

NAFTA vs. USMCA: What we know so far about the new North American trade deal

NAFTA deal a heavy price for Canada’s dairy farmers


Transit and infrastructure

Mr. Ford – whose years in municipal government were spent extolling the virtues of subways, subways, subways – wants Queen’s Park to take a more active role in how public transit is run in Toronto. His government is moving ahead with a campaign promise to take over Toronto’s subway system. During the campaign, he also mused about an expensive plan to bring subways to Pickering, a community far to the east of the city that is already serviced by GO Transit.

Ministers to watch: Jeff Yurek (Transportation), Monte McNaughton (Infrastructure)

Toronto downtown relief line

Pape

Bloor St.

Don Valley Pkwy.

Pape Ave.

College St.

TORONTO

Gerrard

Dundas St.

Carlaw Ave.

Queen

Sumach

Carlaw

Sherbourne

Osgoode

Broadview

Front St.

Relief line

Station

Existing subway

Lake Ontario

john sopinski/the globe and mail, source: reliefline.ca; googlemaps

Toronto downtown relief line

Pape

Bloor St.

Pape Ave.

Don Valley Pkwy.

College St.

TORONTO

Gerrard

Carlaw Ave.

Dundas St.

Carlaw

Sumach

Osgoode

Sherbourne

Queen

King St.

Broadview

Front St.

Relief line

Station

Existing subway

Lake Ontario

john sopinski/the globe and mail, source: reliefline.ca; googlemaps

Toronto downtown relief line

Pape

Bloor St.

Pape Ave.

Don Valley Pkwy.

College St.

TORONTO

Gerrard

Carlaw Ave.

Dundas St.

Carlaw

Sumach

Sherbourne

Queen

Osgoode

Eastern Ave.

King St.

Broadview

Front St.

Relief line

Station

Existing subway

Lake Ontario

john sopinski/the globe and mail, source: reliefline.ca; googlemaps

More reading: Ontario on the move

Doug Ford wants to take over Toronto’s subways. Would that work? A reality check

Doug Ford raises eyebrows with expensive subway plan that would link Toronto to nearby regions


Alcohol and cannabis

Mr. Ford’s rise to power coincided with Canada’s historic legalization of recreational cannabis – but while other provinces will have bricks-and-mortar weed stores operational by October, Mr. Ford’s change of tack on cannabis policy is delaying that in Ontario until 2019. Soon after taking office, the PC government turned to private retailers to sell marijuana, an abrupt shift from the Wynne government’s plan for LCBO-run stores. Under the new regime, the province will be in charge of wholesaling cannabis to retailers, and will be the only legal online store starting Oct. 17, but private businesses won’t be able to open outlets until the new retail framework is set up by April 1. The Ford government is also giving municipalities a “one-time window” to opt out of allowing local cannabis stores, raising questions about uneven access across the province.

As for more traditional intoxicants, Mr. Ford lowered the minimum price that people are allowed to sell beer to $1 plus deposit. Don’t expect many retailers to regularly sell it that cheap: Prices at The Beer Store are set by the breweries who own it, not the province, and the brewers most likely to afford the low price are multinational corporations. Many Ontario craft brewers refused Mr. Ford’s “Buck-a-Beer Challenge,” saying they would not sacrifice quality just to reach the lower price point.

Mr. Ford also said he’d allow beer and wine sales in any grocery or convenience store, not just the handful of grocery stores now authorized to sell alcohol.

Ministers to watch: Christine Elliott (Health), Vic Fedeli (Finance, which oversees the LCBO)

More reading: Drugs and drinking

Uncertainty reigns as Ontario moves to private pot retail

2013 Globe investigation: The Ford family’s history with drug dealing

Cannabis legalization: What is your province or territory doing? A guide

What Ford’s win might mean for marijuana retailing in Ontario

Fraught retail landscape likely to complicate Ford’s ‘buck-a-beer’ proposal


The opposition

At Queen’s Park, the main voice of opposition against Mr. Ford’s government is Andrea Horwath’s New Democrats, whose surge in the June 7 election brought them to Official Opposition status. The Liberals, meanwhile, have gotten used to a greatly diminished role at Queen’s Park: With too few MPs for official party status, they’ll have fewer privileges and opportunities to speak in the legislature. Since Ms. Wynne resigned her leadership of the party, Liberals have also been preparing to choose a new leader at a to-be-determined date.

More reading: The NDP and Liberals

2018 election profile: The new Andrea Horwath: Who is she and why are Ontarians listening to her now?

Analysis: Why was Kathleen Wynne so unpopular? Six degrees of alienation



Compiled by Globe staff

Photos: Associated Press, The Canadian Press, iStockphoto, Fred Lum, Melissa Tait and Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail, Tim Fraser for The Globe and Mail

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