Windsor-Essex MPPs Lisa Gretzky, Percy Hatfield and Taras Natyshak listen to testimony at a pre-budget public hearing in Windsor on January 19, 2018. Photo by Mark Brown/Blackburn News.

Windsor-Essex MPPs React To Ford Election

Two of Windsor-Essex’s MPPs are not too optimistic about the new PC Party leader.

Former Toronto city councillor Doug Ford, the brother of the late Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, was elected leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives over the weekend.  His election was the climax of a whirlwind campaign set in motion by the sudden resignation of the previous leader, Patrick Brown.

Windsor-Tecumseh MPP Percy Hatfield followed the leadership vote along with many Ontarians. He says some of the policies the Tories are touting may set the province back rather than move it forward.

“I find it a little bit ironic,” says Hatfield. “Most of us in Ontario were turning their clocks ahead by an hour and it seems to me the Conservatives turn their policies back about 20 to 25 years.”

Hatfield believes if Ford becomes premier following the provincial election in June, he will focus on policies relating to his hometown Toronto area and not necessarily all of Ontario.

“There’s going to be some scary things and it’s going to get expensive,” says Hatfield. “I’m not sure how he’s going to pay for a lot of the policies that the Conservatives say that they’re going to implement.”

Windsor West MPP Lisa Gretzky also followed the vote but spent time knocking on doors in her riding this weekend. She says some of her constituents are worried about Ford winning the PC leadership.

“People are really actually concerned about Doug Ford being the leader of the Conservatives,” says Gretzky. “They’re concerned that he has openly talked about privatization and more cuts to our public services.”

One of those public services is help for Ontarians with developmental disabilities. Gretzky says she remembers comments made by Ford in 2014 when he was a Toronto councillor concerning a group home in his ward, and she says based on that, Ford is not taking all Ontarians into account.

“He is not an inclusive leader by any means,” says Gretzky. “What we need and what we have is a party that recognises that everybody has different abilities.”

Windsor-Essex has traditionally been a stronghold for the NDP and Liberal parties, both federally and provincially. Hatfield draws on comparisons made between Ford and the U.S. president by some political commentators. He thinks that may stir the Conservative faithful in this area, but not enough to swing any seats their way.

“With a populist, he is seen by some to be like Donald Trump,” says Hatfield. “If people like Donald Trump then perhaps they’ll vote for Doug Ford. At the most, I would say they would finish in second place to the NDP and the Liberals in third.”

The most recent Tory representation at Queen’s Park from the Windsor-Essex region ended when Ivan Thrasher was replaced by the NDP’s Hugh Peacock in 1967. has reached out to Essex MPP Taras Natyshak, but he was not immediately available for comment.