As we showed last week, Ontario is pursuing a much more progressive agenda than, say, Ohio, Pennsylvania or other traditional U.S. manufacturing heartland states. This time around, the Canadian province is doing the pro-environmenting thing not just on the edges, but also on the inside.
There’s a reason Ontarians love Ontario: They have a lot going for them. Unlike other eastern U.S. states, many still have cheap manufacturing and farm land, and are positioned to really benefit from the historic de-industrialization of the Midwest. The financial crisis drove more Americans into Ontario to get work, and they are driving far more of our air and water than people from nearby states.
Because of all this, this new spending on buses, trolleys and public transit, smart cities and transit, and affordable bicycles and electric vehicles doesn’t seem so out of character after all.
Ontario’s economic policies could provide the inspiration for the post-industrial equivalent of what happened in California’s Silicon Valley 20 years ago — a trailblazing example of how fast and decisively a state can move away from government paternalism to let innovation, creativity and private investment take hold. In this case, though, Ontario can do it through full-scale autonomy and state support, rather than corporate welfare and anti-competitive regulations. The next president needs a progressive and forward-looking state to model itself after, so we are seeing a great example.