Way back in April, which seems like ages ago right now, the Ford Conservatives brought forward their controversial budget. That budget included many controversial items, but there was one that not only seemed very out of bounds but has also raised the ire of many in Ford’s own usual supports. That item was forcing anti-Carbon pricing stickers onto gas pumps across Ontario. Well today we got an interesting update on that front, one that while not shocking is shocking in its gall:

Yes folks the Ford Conservatives, the supposed defenders of everything “Free Speech” and individual liberty, are going to be forcing every gas station in Ontario to take their stickers by August 30th. That effective date is not a mistake or an accident by the way; that’s just a couple of weeks before the start of the Federal election, one that Mr. Ford himself said that he was going to stay the heck out of. Hmmm, maybe it’s just me but that’s not staying out of it at all.

And everyone let’s be clear, there is nothing innocent about what the Ford Conservatives are doing here. They are going to fine any gas station that dares to ignore them $10,000 per day. Think about that amount folks and compare it to these other fines that the Province of Ontario charges for various offences:

  • Sell cannabis to person who appears to be under 25 years – $400
  • Refuse to surrender suspended driver’s licence – $25.00
  • Employer failing to pay wages on regular pay day – $295
  • Discharge of sewage from pleasure boat – $300
  • Hunt specially protected wildlife – $200
  • Unlawfully discharge firearm from a vehicle – $500
  • Drive motor vehicle, no permit – $85.00
  • Driving motor vehicle with open  container of liquor – $175

Look at that list and think of the comparison here to the fines that Ford wants to charge gas station owners every single day they refuse to obey him. That is absolutely insane and complete overkill on the behalf of the Ford Conservatives, especially over bloody stickers on a gas pump. Therefore, it’s very understandable that the Ontario Chamber of Commerce is so opposed, saying its members are concerned about the “political nature” of the stickers. They also see this requirement as a violation of their rights and freedoms, and that’s because it is.

Before todays news about the timing, you could have made an argument about the right of the government to communicate a message, despite the fact that the message the Ford Conservatives want to put out there is false because it is completely one-sided and without context. But if we were to accept that rationale, why the rush to get these things onto pumps across Ontario by the end of the Summer? If there were no other reasons for this, they wouldn’t need to rush, but if those stickers didn’t go onto pumps until November, well they would miss the chance to proselytize during the Federal election. You know, the one that Ford has said he was going to stay out of. Ha!

If I were a member of the Scheer Conservative caucus or one of their candidates in Ontario or anywhere else for that matter, I would be mad at this move in Ontario. By doing this, not only is it guaranteeing that Doug Ford is going to be wedged into everything without any effort from the Liberals, NDP or anyone else. It’s going to remind voters of everything that the Blue Team wants voters to forget. Also though, it forces Andrew Scheer into a difficult position. Does he condemn Ford for this overreach to appease the member of groups like the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, a group that has many Conservative members and supporters in it’s ranks. Or does he back Doug, not condemn this and confirm the narrative that exists out there about him being subservient to Conservative Premiers like Ford, all while refusing to stand up for Free Speech, something that he’s always claimed himself to be a champion of. That’s surely being caught between a rock and a hard place, a place that could have totally been avoided if Ford had just backed down.

And all of this over a piece of legislation that stands a good chance of getting struck down by the courts when it gets there. Is the pain and trouble that comes from this move really worth the negligible benefit they might get if people buy the torqued message that Ford is trying to sell? I would argue it’s not, but if anything, this kind of overreach is true to form for this side of the political spectrum. Despite closing down Queen’s Park for five months, it looks like we’re going to see and hear a lot of Doug Ford because despite his promise to stay out of this campaign, it looks like he’ll be unable to help himself.