Doug Ford’s 1 per cent solution doesn’t add up. Not now, not even close.

No surprise that his Progressive Conservatives want to legislate a 1-per-cent wage cap on most public sector workers on the grounds that tough times require tough choices. There’s just one problem facing the Ontario government — the best kind of problem:

What if these aren’t tough times by any reasonable definition? What if the province isn’t facing an economic downturn, nor a fiscal crisis, not even a surging salary emergency to justify suspending collective bargaining rights?

Tell it to the judge.

What if there’s so much cash to spare that the Tories have already cut Ontario taxes and promised more tax cuts to come — on top of previous tax cuts enacted by past Liberal governments? If the Tories can afford to give money away to taxpayers, why take money away from public sector employees entitled to good-faith negotiations?

As much as some Conservatives might dislike debt, or disdain deficits, or begrudge public servants’ salaries, or resent teachers’ summers off, the laws of our land set a higher standard for the systematic suspension of collective bargaining rights. The courts have ruled that you must have good reason(s) — unless, of course, Ford once again intends to overrule any courts that dare to overrule his government by invoking the Charter’s notwithstanding clause.

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His April budget forecasts continued healthy economic growth. Ontario’s bonds continue to sell out on Bay Street and Wall Street. What if Ontario’s so-called deficit descent and debt tailspin are actuarially alarmist? What if there is no fiscal emergency that actually requires wage urgency?

Tell it to the judge.

Governments across Canada have tried similar wage tactics only to be overruled by the courts for bad-faith bargaining. You can’t put the cart before the horse, nor the cap before the negotiations, nor partisan politics above legal precedents — as the Liberals learned when then-premier Dalton McGuinty (backed by the PCs) froze teachers’ wages in 2012 (leading to court-sanctioned penalties that further burdened taxpayers).

Why on earth would Ford’s Tories want to ape Liberal mistakes that cost the treasury yet again? The challenge for the Crown is that it cannot persuasively play dumb given all the lessons learned in recent decades by all three parties in power.

“Everyone must do their part,” exhorted Peter Bethlenfalvy, president of the cabinet’s treasury board, as he unveiled the legislation Wednesday.

In fact, the public sector did its part from 2012-14, when Ontario was digging out from under a massive $17 billion budget deficit triggered by the 2010 global financial crisis and surging unemployment? Back then, a moral case could be made that public servants enjoyed job security that was the envy of the private sector, where fear of corporate failure suppressed wages.

Hence Bethlenfalvy’s misplaced musings that “this is really good news for our public sector workers” who get to keep their jobs while losing their rights. By contrast, he argued, private sector workers understand that “job insecurity is part of their day-to-day lives.”

Insecurity may indeed be the new normal. But when unemployment is lower than it has been for decades, it’s an unpersuasive argument that would be laughed out of court — especially when current public sector contracts aren’t excessive by any measure.

A more savvy Tory government would have kept its powder dry for now. Instead, Ford’s PCs have ripped up contracts with green energy companies and introduced legislation to tear up an enforceable contract with the big brewers, relying on their majority muscle to outlaw the compensation to which they are entitled by law.

The legislature is supreme, insists Ford and his cabinet minions. The Tory majority can do as it pleases.

True enough, but unrestrained power without a modicum of wisdom is a dangerous drug. Fiscal restraint cannot be free of judicial restraint.

In his zeal for beer, Ford’s confrontation with foreign brewers — blasted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Wednesday — is not only undermining his contrived “Open for Business” slogan, it may ultimately cost us in the courts. Imagine draining the treasury to pay damages to foreign brewers, while forcing public servants to make up the difference in their salaries, and ultimately sticking taxpayers with the legal bill.

By declaring war on everyone everywhere — brewers, investors, municipalities and public servants — Ontario’s embattled government is devaluing the currency of its credibility and becoming an international laughing stock. But the Tories are not as dumb as they look, merely desperate.

The premier is not declaring war on public servants because Ontario needs the money. He merely needs a scapegoat.

In his hour of need, Ford’s “Government For the People” has found an enemy of the people — supposedly fat-cat teachers and presumably overpaid public servants. Never mind saving money from as many as 1 million public servants, Ford is banking on a richer harvest from many more millions of Ontario voters he hopes to turn against the enemy.

Tell it to the judge. Tell it to the people.

Martin Regg Cohn is a columnist based in Toronto covering Ontario politics.