Doug Ford and his government took the helm at Queen’s Park on Friday with the official swearing-in ceremony inside the legislature, followed by the first public ceremony for an incoming premier in more than 30 years.
“To the people of Ontario, I stand before you today, truly humbled by the trust you have put in me,” Premier Ford said in his first speech as Premier, on the steps of the Ontario legislature.
Ford said his vision is for hope and prosperity “not just for the privileged few but for every person in Ontario.”
“I wanted to confirm my oath of office of you … to set the stage for a government that will always be accountable to you, that will only answer to you,” Ford said, after he reaffirmed his oath of office outside in the presence of Lt.-Gov. Elizabeth Dowdeswell.
“My friends, a new day will dawn in Ontario, a day of prosperity and opportunity, opportunity for all to succeed and prosper.”
Ford also used the opportunity to echo themes from his campaign.
“We all know the challenges before us are real and they are serious,” he said. “Our province is at a critical juncture. We must not underestimate the gravity of the situation we face … following years of fiscal mismanagement, record levels of debt and crippling interest payments, crumbling infrastructure and a broken health care system.
“We will fix it, my friends … we’re going to turn this province around.”
And then he said he had already started work on the promises he has made.
“We’re eliminating the cap-and-trade carbon tax, the first steps to lowering gas prices,” he said. “We’re initiating a full audit of the government’s spending line item by line item, a review that will result in billions — that’s billions — of dollars of savings for Ontarians.”
About an hour earlier, Ford and his cabinet took their official oaths inside the legislature.
“I, Doug Ford, swear that I will duly and faithfully and to the best of my skill and knowledge execute the powers and trust reposed to me as premier and president of the council and minister of intergovernmental affairs of the province of Ontario, so help me God,” he said as he took the oath of office.
Ford’s family, including his wife Karla Ford and mother Diane Ford who were seated in the front row, were among several who attended the official swearing-in ceremony.
Christine Elliott, who was sworn in as deputy premier and minister of health and long-term care, was seated next to Ford, along with Vic Fedeli, who is now minister of finance and chair of cabinet. Click here for the list of cabinet ministers.
Ahead of the swearing-in, Steve Orsini — secretary of the cabinet and clerk of the executive council — presented Dowdeswell with Ford’s official document recommending the cabinet ministers. Dowdeswell then signed the document to make it official.
Before the individual oaths, Orsini administered the oath to the executive council — which included Ford and his cabinet — as a group.
It wasn’t the first time a public ceremony was held for an incoming premier. Back on June 26, 1985, then premier David Peterson ushered a new era of Liberal government after the Conservatives were ousted from power following a 42-year reign. Around 5,000 people were on-hand to watch Peterson sworn in as premier.
Ford, who is the province’s 26th premier, was elected to a majority earlier this month, reducing the Liberals to seven seats — one short of official party status.
Although Ford has been criticized for not releasing a fully-costed platform, he secured the first PC victory in Ontario since 1999. The Conservatives were in power until 2003, when Dalton McGuinty and the Liberals took over.
A week after winning the election, Ford said his first act as premier would be to scrap the province’s cap-and-trade system and challenge federal rules on carbon pricing. He has also placed most of the public service under a hiring freeze and ordered that all discretionary spending be put on hold.
MPPs will be back in the legislature on July 11 to elect a speaker and will sit for at least a couple of weeks. The throne speech will be delivered on July 12.
With files from The Canadian Press