After more than four decades of Liberal rule in Ontario, Ontario’s New Democrats want to raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2019.
The party, which won a commanding parliamentary majority in Tuesday’s election, also plans to repeal the Liberals’ cap-and-trade program, which is intended to reduce greenhouse gases.
They also promised Saturday to review the organization of Canada’s provinces and territories, a move that could reduce the power of Canada’s Northwest Territories and the Northwest Territories Territories, which would need increased money and perhaps more autonomy to settle disputes with other provinces.
In a TV interview on Sunday, Ontarians were largely enthusiastic about the new government, even if they didn’t yet know the extent of their newfound power.
“We’ve got one thing we want: to bring back integrity and accountability,” said Kathy Weir, a resident of Wellington.
“Ontario’s under this lot,” she added, referring to the previous Liberal government. “He was supposed to be our potted plant.”
Polls before and after the election pointed to an upset in the making. The Liberal party governed for 13 of the last 14 years, and turnout was low.
Also at stake Tuesday was a national party leader. Ontario-born Doug Ford, a conservative, won the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party. He thanked Canada’s residents in a victory speech to rally his supporters outside his Toronto home on Saturday.
But just days after Ontario’s voters had done the same, Ford seemed to embrace his orange supporters’ message of resistance. The move seemed reminiscent of U.S. President Donald Trump’s early days in office, when he came under fire for Twitter comments disparaging immigrants, Muslims and the media.
The NDP’s PC challenger, Christine Elliott, won an election in 2015 after defeating Ford’s brother, Patrick, in the Conservative primary. Christine Elliott had backed candidate who attacked LGBTQ community
On Saturday, she said she would be a “substitute” premier.
A senior Ford cabinet minister, who asked not to be named, said both Ford brothers wanted a job as premier, but one never got it.
The provincial NDP campaign target was the Liberal government’s minimum wage policy.
“We have not seen any clear response from Mr. Ford as to what he would be doing differently,” said Chris Buckley, the head of NDP’s Ontario campaign. “We are going to set our own course.”
The Ontario minimum wage had been set to rise from $11.40 to $14 per hour next month. The NDP pledged to raise it another $1 each year until the wage reached $15 per hour.
Buckley said the $14 minimum wage worked well because it put more money in people’s pockets and encouraged them to spend it. “The notion of the minimum wage has been about keeping the money in the pockets of low-wage workers,” he said.
One of Ford’s first decisions as premier-designate will be to pick a cabinet. Buckley said the NDP wanted to bring its members into the government. The NDP took the first step by selecting Andrea Horwath, the MPP for Hamilton Mountain, as leader after rejecting Elliott.
“We have a lot to learn as an opposition party, but we have a lot to offer,” Buckley said.