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Canada

TOWHEY: It’s a phony war, but Ford’s losing

It’s a fake war between Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Toronto Mayor John Tory over provincial funding – but Ford is losing.

None of the shots fired by either side matters, but Ford’s shooting matters a lot.

As pure kabuki theatre, a conflict is good for both leaders.

Ford gets to beat up on Toronto — always popular outside the 416.

Inside the city, you either love him or hate him. That’s not going to change, so nothing much to gain or lose.

For his part, Tory gets a much-needed enemy to distract city taxpayers from the fact he’s accomplished little so far in his nearly five-year old mayoralty.

Remember SmartTrack? See also: end to traffic jams?

Picking a fight is a good strategy: much for both sides to gain — little to lose.

Even a good strategy depends on effective tactics. And, the Ford government is bungling the execution of its simple strategy.

What should be a harmless little tiff that buoys supporters of both sides isn’t unfolding according to plan.

Tory is delivering an uncharacteristically clear message: “Ford’s cuts will hurt your kids.”

Doug Ford hasn’t yet effectively responded.

The argument doesn’t really matter.

The cuts will happen. No one will die. Few will notice.

But Ford’s weakness on this phony front is rallying his enemies.

They’re building coalitions.

They’re growing stronger.

Tory’s latest salvo: a petition

This week, John Tory launched an online petition to gather the names and email addresses of voters who support his fight against cuts to “childcare, student vaccinations, daily breakfast for kids and restaurant inspections.”

The petition’s webpage provides a link to a city report on how provincial cuts will affect Toronto.

Those few who read the report, may notice it says nothing at all about restaurant inspections or school vaccinations.

Kabuki theatre.

Lots of city documents talk about student nutrition programs and childcare, though.

Breakfast for Kids

Bonus Facts:

Childcare

The truth is out there

Both sides in this war of the words are telling tales.

Truth is, Toronto’s spending is inefficient and often wasteful. The city’s focus is on maintaining a bloated workforce — not on providing essential services residents can afford.

This should give Doug Ford the upper hand – but his government’s inability to communicate a clear, understandable and compelling message is crippling him.

None of the arguments really matter in this Kabuki theatre. But, Ford’s inability to respond effectively encourages his enemies to organize — and that may come back to haunt him.

SERVICE BEYOND SENSE

Many services Toronto provides to residents are essentially provincial services delivered under contract. Ontario pays for some or all costs associated with their delivery and the city does the work.

No matter who rules Queen’s Park, though, Toronto is always more generous than the provincial government. City departments routinely exceed service levels mandated by the province.

Seems reasonable: if you’re not eligible for child benefits – why are you getting child benefits?

But: Toronto wonders how it can provide an alternative benefit to the alternative benefit to the benefit these people aren’t eligible for.

Seems reasonable: if it doesn’t deliver the service, it won’t need the money.

But: 1,900 city employees work in Employment Services. Unionized employees with golden contracts. What happens to them?

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