National Newswatch

Ontario’s fiscal watchdog says deficit is $1.2B lower than claimed, but warns of huge future shortfalls

Dec 10 2018 — Robert Benzie — Ontario’s fiscal watchdog says this year’s budget deficit is $12.3 billion — $1.2 billion lower than Finance Minister Vic Fedeli has projected. But financial accountability officer Peter Weltman also warned huge shortfalls will continue into the future unless the Progressive Conservative government makes dramatic spending cuts or increases taxes.

Premier Doug Ford says he’s not to blame after U.S. regulator zaps Hydro One takeover of Avista

Dec 6 2018 — Robert Benzie — Premier Doug Ford insists he’s not to blame for U.S. regulators zapping Hydro One’s $6.7 billion takeover of Avista Corp., which will cost Ontario taxpayers tens of millions in cancellation fees and reduced share value. In his first public statement since Washington state rejected the Ontario utility’s proposed takeover of Avista citing political meddling by […]

Top Tory has left OPG after Ford’s chief intervened

Nov 30 2018 — Robert Benzie — A veteran Progressive Conservative operative fired from Ontario Power Generation after an unusual personal intervention from Premier Doug Ford’s chief of staff has officially left the utility. Alykhan Velshi, who was chief of staff to both former PC leader Patrick Brown and interim leader Vic Fedeli, departed OPG on Friday.

Scrapping labour reforms is damaging Ford’s popularity: poll

Nov 14 2018 — Robert Benzie — Rolling back labour reforms — including cancelling paid sick days and freezing the $14-an-hour minimum wage — is taking its toll on Premier Doug Ford’s popularity, a new poll suggests. The Campaign Research survey found Ford’s Progressive Conservatives, who won the June 7 election with 40.5 per cent of the vote, have dropped to 34 […]

Premier Doug Ford shuffles cabinet after Jim Wilson’s departure

Nov 5 2018 — Robert Benzie — Conservatives sources said Sunday that the premier is scrambling to shuffle his cabinet. “It’s crazy,” said one worried Tory, mindful that the moves so soon after the government had taken office will make it seem as if the fledgling administration is in chaos. Embattled Community Safety and Corrections Ministers Michael Tibollo, whose past legal challenges […]

Speaker clears Andrea Horwath in encounter with Tory MPP

Oct 18 2018 — Robert Benzie — “After carefully reviewing the matter, I cannot find that a prima facie case of breach of privilege has been established,” said Arnott of the dispute between the two Hamilton-area representatives, who have known each other for decades. Skelly, who ducked reporters Thursday and did not return messages seeking comment, had formally complained to the Speaker […]

Tories gird for watchdog report on the cost of scrapping Ontario’s cap-and-trade program

Oct 15 2018 — Robert Benzie — As Ontario’s fiscal watchdog is set to reveal the financial impact of Premier Doug Ford’s decision to scrap cap-and-trade, the Progressive Conservatives insist they will have a replacement climate-change plan soon. Environment Minister Rod Phillips said Monday the Tories would soon unveil their strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to extreme weather.