Today: Wednesday, June 20, 2018, 11:06 pm (PST)

Ontario Premier designate Doug Ford says he stands with PM in U.S. trade dispute

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Toronto:  Doug Ford said Friday that he told Justin Trudeau he stands with the prime minister in a trade dispute with the United States, emphasizing Ontario’s ties with the federal government a day after leading his Progressive Conservatives to a majority.

Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump have exchanged tough words after the U.S. imposed hefty tariffs on steel and aluminum from Canada, Mexico and Europe. Canada has countered with a plan to impose tariffs of its own on U.S. metals and other consumer goods.

Ford was asked a day after the election what he thinks of how Trump is handling trade issues.

“I talked to the prime minister yesterday,” he said. “I said we’ll stand united against our neighbours to the south and I’m very sincere when I say that. United we stand as a country and I’ll work hand in hand with the prime minister.”

Ford said he will keep all of his election promises, including to repeal the Liberals’ updated sex-ed curriculum.

But he declined to discuss specifics when asked about the timing of that, as well as when and how he would scrap the Liberals’ cap-and-trade program, or if he will introduce back-to-work legislation to end a months-long strike at York University in Toronto.

Ford also would not say if he will lower the legislature’s threshold for official party status to accommodate the Liberals, who were decimated at the polls. The bar is currently eight seats, but the Liberals were reduced Thursday night from a majority to holding just seven seats.

The premier-designate’s first order of business will be to examine the province’s books, he said.

“We have to see the financial situation that’s been left behind, and over the next couple days and weeks you’re going to hear from us, but the most important thing is getting our fiscal house in order,” Ford said.

He also announced his transition team Friday, including former Conservative MP John Baird, a past chief of staff in former prime minister Stephen Harper’s government, and an executive at the Ford family business.

Ford said he expects the transition to take 21 days, and will meet Friday with the lieutenant-governor, when he will likely receive a formal invitation to form Ontario’s next government.

The NDP under Andrea Horwath will form the Official Opposition, marking a turnaround for a party consistently stuck in third place since Bob Rae’s New Democratic government was defeated in 1995.

The party doubled its seat count from the 2014 election. Horwath said Friday that Ontarians have chosen her party to keep Ford accountable.

“Our ideas are quite different and Mr. Ford’s plan to cut all those taxes for the richest people in Ontario is going to put a big hole in our finances here in this province,” she said. “I’m hopeful that Mr. Ford understands that we need revenues in our province to pay for the kinds of things that people expect a government to provide.”

Ford was frequently accused during the election campaign of failing to be transparent by dodging calls to release a fully costed platform. The party eventually published a list of promises and their price tags, but didn’t indicate how they would pay for them, what size of deficits they would run or for exactly how long.

The Canadian Press

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