Tuesday, November 02, 2021

Doug Ford's increase in minimum wage not out of deeply-held political convictions

Ontario Premier Doug Ford, after keeping a very low profile for several months as his popularity ratings tanked pretty much every time he made a public appearance and opened his mouth, has been making various announcements in recent days apparently intended to show his respect and his deep devotion to the lowly working stiff.

The latest such is an announcement that Ontario's minimum wage will be increased to $15 an hour in the new year. Wait, wasn't that the policy of the previous Liberal government, nearly four years ago? And wasn't it Doug Ford that cancelled the proposed Liberal increase in the minimum wage as one of his very first actions as the new Premier of Ontario, back in 2018? If he expects some credit for increasing the minimum wage now, after all this time, he must be very na├»ve. 

Besides, according to the Ontario Living Wage Network, a living wage in Ontario now, after the increases in the cost of living in the intervening years, is estimated to be between $16.20 an hour (Sault Ste. Marie) and $22.08 an hour (Toronto), with the provincial average therefore hovering somewhere close to $20 an hour. $15 is just not going to cut it.

So, why now? Has he spent nearly four years thinking about it, and decided that yes, it is a good idea after all? Er, probably not. For one thing, thinking is not Doug Ford's forte. And helping out the working classes is not one of his deeply-held political convictions.

No, this is all about timing. His handlers - the ones that persuaded him to remove himself from the spotlight as it was hurting his polling numbers - have reminded him that the next provincial election is just eight months away, and it is probably time to start burnishing his image a bit and portraying himself as a caring man of the people, and not a power-mad millionaire businessman.

It's a tough sell, and it won't be made any easier when people realize what his hidden agenda is - four more years in power.

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