If you are going to engage with the newly elected Ontario government, there is something you need to know.
“For the People,” Premier Doug Ford’s 2018 campaign slogan, was much more than clever advertising dictum or an expedient brand promise. It’s a mantra that will shape the government’s decision-making approach in a way we’ve never seen before in Ontario.
On June 7, Ontario voters went to the polls in record numbers, and chose a Doug Ford government. What makes this victory unique was, in part, the genius of his message “For the People.” It means whatever the voter wants it to mean. And most importantly, it’s relatable.
It could mean making Alex a part of her children’s education decisions, or giving Tony savings at the gas pumps so he can get to work. It could mean less red tape for Don’s family business, or a bit of help for Ricki to reduce her soaring hydro bills.
“For the People” taps into a feeling of economic and social insecurity expressed across the province in nearly every community. It was once described perfectly to me: “You’re working harder and you’re not getting ahead, and no one is looking out for you – they are just in it for themselves.”
This was the feeling Premier Ford perfectly captured with what most thought was “just a slogan.”
While campaign slogans matter, a desire for change was no doubt a major player in this election. This election was the pendulum swinging back to the localizers, from the centralizers. What I mean is that decisions on big issues affecting our healthcare system, our transit networks and your pocket book will move from the boardroom table to the kitchen table. Because the kitchen table is where “the people” are.
Premier Ford tapped into a growing anger in Ontario. Voters felt left behind. They didn’t believe the governing Liberals would ever transfer power away from downtown Toronto office towers full of people wearing $2,000 suits, back to communities where people actually live, work and raise their families.
The Premier’s approach is back to common sense, reducing the size of government and letting people keep more of their own money. And with that will comes a real change in how a new government will operate. Expect a focus on consultations with stakeholders, a voice for front line workers and a return to participatory democracy.
A Doug Ford government will see themselves accountable primarily to the electorate – the people – and no one else.
“For the People” is more than a slogan. It’s a lens through which we should look at every issue. After all, that’s what a Doug Ford government will do.