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editorial

Doug Ford has won the race to be leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario. He stands poised to be the next premier of Ontario.

Luckily, in trying to imagine what kind of premier Mr. Ford would be, we have more to go on than the few things he said during the short leadership campaign, such as his promises to lower taxes and repeal the province’s carbon cap-and-trade system.

In fact, we have his eight-year career in public life – as city councillor, mayoral candidate and prospective party leader – to judge him by.

Here’s the good news: Even if his blunt populism reminds people of United States President Donald Trump, Mr. Ford has never trafficked in xenophobia. In fact, he and his brother Rob have been notably popular among immigrant voters in Toronto’s inner suburbs.

It’s also important to note that Mr. Ford doesn’t share his brother’s demons. He is a professed teetotaller who has successfully run the family label-making business for years.

But there’s also bad news. Mr. Ford has often shown poor judgment and character since his election to Toronto council in 2010. A cursory review of his record shows the following:

He fights dirty, smearing opponents with abandon. He once claimed then-chief of police Bill Blair leaked information about a pending subpoena of his crack-smoking brother to get revenge – an absurd, reckless charge.

He’s a flighty policy thinker, evidenced by his proposal to build a Ferris wheel and a monorail along Toronto’s waterfront, ripping up years of careful, sensible planning by the government agency that oversees the area.

He has mixed his business and political life in uncomfortable ways. The Toronto integrity commissioner ruled in 2016 that Mr. Ford broke council’s code of conduct by setting up meetings with city officials on behalf of at least two business clients while he was a councillor.

Above all, Mr. Ford is a demagogue. He attacks “elites” and panders to voters with populist slogans, but doesn’t offer serious ideas to improve their lives.

The question now is, will his new role bring out a different man? That is often the hope but rarely the reality. Becoming mayor didn’t make Rob Ford a more temperate personality. Becoming President has not made Mr. Trump presidential.

Mr. Ford will have to work hard to convince Ontario voters that the person they know would be able to live up to the office he now aspires to.

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