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Ford government puts Liberal laws on hold

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TORONTO—A number of laws passed by Ontario's previous Liberal government have been put on hold by the newly-elected Progressive Conservative regime, including measures to tighten rules around vaping and to cap resale values for sports and concert tickets.

A spokesman for the Progressive Conservatives said yesterday the new government, which was sworn in Friday, wants more time to consult and examine the laws before they come into effect.

While some advocacy groups welcomed the move, critics questioned the government's reasons for revisiting the laws.

NDP leader Andrea Horwath accused Premier Doug Ford of making changes without any explanation or public notice.

“No one voted for business to be conducted in secret, behind closed doors,” Horwath said in a statement.

“And I'm sure no one voted to have a premier that would listen to influencers and lobbyists while shutting out everyday people affected by the laws,” she added.

“Ford seems to believe the public doesn't deserve information about what he's up to and why, and that's wrong.”

Ford has made several changes since he was elected last month, including putting the public service under a hiring freeze and imposing a wage freeze on its managers, as well as taking steps to dismantle the province's cap-and-trade system.

His spokesman, Simon Jefferies, said yesterday the government will delay the implementation of new rules around vaping, which would have regulated the activity in much the same way as smoking.

“The government will work with the public, experts, and businesses to re-examine the evidence related to vaping as a smoking cessation tool to ensure that any changes are in the best interests of everyone and protect Ontarians' health and safety,” he said in a statement.

Halting the new regulations will not change the current provisions in the Smoke Free Ontario Act and the Electronic Cigarettes Act, he noted.

Maria Papaioannoy-Duic, a spokeswoman for the Vapor Advocates of Ontario, lauded Ford and new Health minister Christine Elliott for the move.

Vaping advocates have argued the activity is safer than smoking and moves people from the toxic chemicals found in tobacco to an alternative, which can help them break their habit.

“We're excited that the government . . . [has] recognized our efforts and have paused the implementation of these regulations,” Papaioannoy-Duic said in a statement.

“We have the utmost confidence that they are going to look at the regulations based on science and not guesswork.”

But Joe Mihevc, the chair of Toronto's Board of Health and a city councillor who once served alongside Ford, said he questions the decision to pause the legislation.

Public health units across Ontario have studied the impacts of vaping and agreed with the restrictions the previous government's laws placed on the product, he noted.

Mihevc said he believes that once the government digs in and does its own research, it's likely to find claims that vaping is an effective tool to help smoking cessation aren't true.

The government also confirmed yesterday it has delayed a law that would have capped sports and concert ticket resale prices at 50 percent above original face value will not immediately move ahead.

“The previous government attempted to institute a cap on ticket resales with no way to enforce that cap, resulting in less consumer protection,” Jefferies said.

“We have paused the implementation of this section until we can review this provision in full to make sure it is in the best interest of Ontarians.”

The legislation also bans so-called “scalper bots” that buy a large number of tickets online for an event and then resell them at a large profit.

The ban on the bots has not been halted by the government.

The legislature is expected to be recalled for a brief summer session next week, and Ford is expected to give a throne speech laying out his government's priorities.

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