Ontario PCs launch pre-election advertising blitz promoting Premier Doug Ford as a big spender

Ontario's Progressive Conservative party has launched a radio advertising blitz aimed at promoting Premier Doug Ford as a big spender, while attacking the leaders of the Liberals and New Democrats nearly eight months before the next provincial election.

The attack ads blanketed radio airwaves in Ontario on the same day the Ford government was offering voters a new vision for the province in a Throne Speech delivered by LT. Gov. Elizabeth Dowdeswell at Queen’s Park.

In one series of ads, personally voiced by Ford, the progressive conservative leader casts himself as a "yes" man whose government is willing to approve transit and infrastructure projects to create jobs in the province.

“I hear it all the time, politicians are famous for finding reasons to say no,” Ford says in the commercial. “That’s not me.”

“I am Doug Ford, the leader of the Ontario PCs, and we are the party saying yes,” Ford says in the radio ad authorized by the chief financial officer for the party.

The message offers a stark contrast from 2018 when Ford promised to save four cents on every dollar of provincial spending while promising to “respect your hard-earned tax dollars.”

“My friends, the party with the tax payers dollars is over, it’s done” Ford said on the night he was elected as premier.

The COVID-19 pandemic, however, forced the Ford government to run the largest deficit in provincial history reshaping the government’s attitude towards spending.

The government has since cut down the deficit from $38.5 billion to $16.4 billion largely due to pandemic transfer payments from the federal government and $5.6 billion in unspent funds in the 2020-21 fiscal year.

Still, Monday’s Throne Speech promised to avoid cutting spending and tax hikes, while still charting a course towards financial stability.

In another series of ads, the PC party tries to shift the blame of the COVID-19 crisis in long-term care onto Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca — who was a cabinet minister in the former Liberal government.

“[Del Duca] remained idle while creating only 611 long-term care beds, leaving the most vulnerable unprepared for the pandemic,” the radio ad claims.

The anti-Del Duca ad also invokes the unpopular legacy of Kathleen Wynne, who led the party to defeat in the 2018 provincial election.

“Remember life under Kathleen Wynne,” a female voice asks. “[Del Duca] was Wynne’s right hand man when they sent your hydro bills skyrocketing.”

The ads highlight the former liberal governments record on the sale of a portion of Hydro One, job creation, and long-term care, accompanied by a stern warning.

“Ontario crumbled under Kathleen Wynne and Steven Del Duca,” The voice in the ad says. “Let’s not go back.”

In a statement Liberal campaign director Christine McMillan calls the ads “divisive attacks” by a party “desperate for power.”

“Doug Ford’s Conservatives are exclusively focused on attacking the only party with a positive plan trying to help the people of Ontario,” the statement says.

The PC party ads also target NDP leader Andrea Horwath as a politician who “says one thing and does another” without providing citations for the claims being made.

“She talks about how expensive everything is but plans to raise your taxes. She says she’s against gridlock but opposes building new highways,” the ads claim.

Michael Balagus, the NDP's 2022 campaign director, said the ads show Ford is "worried that it'll be Andrea in 2022."

“He doesn’t want to talk about his own record, or his cutting plans, so Ford making up tall tales about Andrea Horwath —- which won’t stop her relentless focus on fighting for better for people.”