TORONTO — Licence plate slogans have chided Ontarians not to litter (‘Keep it Beautiful,’ until the early 1980s) and encouraged them to travel (the current ‘Yours to Discover’).
And now the Ford government intends to reflect the province’s entrepreneurial bent by putting ‘Open for Business’ on new plates.
In making the change, the governing Progressive Conservatives are following in the footsteps of their Tory forerunners in the Bill Davis government, the last regime to update the tagline more than 35 years ago.
But the reported brand shift is controversial because it also reflects a Ford government campaign slogan in the last election.
The government confirmed the impending change during the political theatre of Question Period in the legislature this week.
Essex MPP Taras Natyshak of the NDP asked the governing benches yesterday about the cost of imposing what he described as “mandatory PC-party vanity plates” on taxpayers. He suggested the idea must be “part of an elaborate” April Fool’s Day prank.
“We’re open for business and we’re open for jobs,” said Government and Consumer Services Minister Bill Walker in reply, while sidestepping the question of cost. “It would be only fitting that our commercial plates in one way or other reflect this,” he said, “after 15 years of Liberal mismanagement, running our province into the ground, supported by the NDP, it’s time we say to the world, ‘We are open for business, we are open for jobs.”
But in the legislature today, Premier Doug Ford said that switching the catchphrase won’t “cost a penny to taxpayers. They’re still producing the plates. It’s going to be the same cost.”
Former Premier Bob Rae took to Twitter today to say he’s “never, ever, ever” heard a voter demand a new Ontario licence plate slogan.
I’ve knocked on thousands of doors over four decades in public life. No one has ever, ever, ever demanded a change in the licence plate, and in particular no one has ever, ever, ever suggested we change it to an empty hot air political slogan. https://t.co/yStHYWxaJ6
— Bob Rae (@BobRae48) April 2, 2019