TORONTO (Reuters) – Populist leader Doug Ford was sworn in as new Prime Minister of Ontario on Friday. He ended 15 years of liberal rule in Canada's most populous province and pledged to drop a greenhouse gas reduction program.
Ford and its Progressive Conservative Party swept to power in the parliamentary elections in Ontario earlier this month with a vow to lower personal and corporate taxes. Ford, 53, is the brother of the late Toronto mayor Rob Ford, who made headlines in 2013 when he confessed smoking crack cocaine.
During his campaign, Ford said he wanted to abolish Ontario's cap-and-trade system for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reiterated the promise on Friday's ceremony, a policy that conflicted with the liberal party's federal government. It is expected that the reduction of cap-and-trade will reduce the burden on companies in the short term, analysts said.
In a public open-air event on the front steps of the Ontario Legislative Assembly, Ford was sworn in as Ontario's 26th prime minister. Ford, a businessman with little political experience, also said he would launch a full review of government spending.
With about one-third of the Canadian population of 36 million, Ontario is the country's economic engine and home to its largest city, Toronto. It has one of the largest indebtedness in the world, nearly $ 350 billion in March ($ 272 billion).
Relatively high energy and labor costs have made it difficult for the province to attract new investment.
"We will protect good jobs in Ontario … we will protect our agricultural, manufacturing and natural resources industries," Ford said in a speech in which he vowed to open "Ontario for business" and Ontario for investment and open trade.
Reporting by Danya Hajjaji; Arrangement by Denny Thomas and Grant McCool