Ontario throne speech highlights key Doug Ford campaign pledges

TORONTO — Ontario’s new Progressive Conservative government vowed Thursday to bring in sweeping changes meant to restore public trust in the province in a throne speech that played up promises made by Premier Doug Ford during the spring election campaign.

The speech — written by the premier’s office and read by Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Dowdeswell at the Ontario legislature — set out a road map for the majority Tory government’s term, pledging to cut taxes, provide long-term funding for the health-care system and slash government waste.

It did not introduce major new promises but instead highlighted key pledges from Ford to conduct a line-by-line audit of all government spending, pull out of the cap-and-trade system and fight “oppressive” taxes, including the imposition of a federal carbon price.

The government also laid out its plan to expand the sale of beer and wine to convenience stores, grocery stores and big-box stores, and to roll back restrictions on police officers, calling the measures a show of respect for consumers and law enforcement, respectively.

The government has been given “a clear mandate from Ontarians” to carry out its vision at a pivotal time for the province, the speech said.

“The fact is that Ontario is at a critical juncture. We face mounting challenges at home and abroad. These challenges, if left unchecked, threaten livelihoods and imperil public services,” it said.

“We cannot afford to dither or delay. To overcome these challenges we must challenge the status quo, reject the old compromises and embrace change.”

The government stressed the need for collaboration — with other levels of government, with parents and teachers, with law enforcement — in vowing to restore faith in public institutions.

“In a time of global turmoil and change, maintaining and strengthening the bond between the people and their public representatives must always be top of mind for us all. It is very much top of mind for your new government,” it said.

The speech promised the government will reduce taxes for parents, small businesses and the working poor, and pledged to bring down electricity bills. During the election, Ford promised to cut the middle class tax rate from 9.15 per cent to 7.32 per cent, but the plan would not be implemented until 2020-21.

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