Ontarians – from border to border, and from Hudson Bay to the Great lakes – are on the verge of going to the polls again.
How and who they vote for will shape the government of Ontario for the next 4-5 years, and that is no inconsequential responsibility: North America is pretty much three inches and a market fart away from falling back into an economic recession that will no doubt put further pressure on the unemployment safety net as thousands of workers are let go.
The province of Ontario is a very complex machine… and when a machine breaks down, you want the right tools in your hands to fix it, right?
Unfortunately, Tim Hudak is just a tool (in the most derogatory sense).
During the 2011 election campaign, Mr. Hudak has tried to paint himself with Mike Harris’ left over cans of Tremclad Rustoleum in the supposedly trendy colour of ChangeBlue™… but he’s failed to realize that colour has been out of style for more than a decade.
While LiberalRed™ is still the preferred colour of the Ontario electorate, they’ve also developed a hankering for Andrea Horwath’s truckload of LaytonOrange™ – at least in small doses.
Tim Hudak may be good at mugging for the cameras, but he’s been overly terrible at public policy ideas – a failing that’s always terminal in a politicians’s case, and one that can make you a laughing-stock at what’s supposed to be your defining moment.
At the start of the campaign, everything was coming up roses for Timmy and his merry band of Harris leftovers because Ontarians thought that change would be nice after 8 years of Premiere Dad – and that’s bound to happen, no matter who’s been holding on to the province’s keys: people like change now and then.
Instead of always getting the pepperoni pizza, sometimes you go out on a limb and get the Hawaiian with extra pineapple.
After a week or so of glad handing voters around the province, Hudak firmly took his campaign off the rails by repeatedly saying the word “foreigners” – and in a province that only grows with the importing of landed immigrants from other countries around the world (because the Canadian birth rate is abysmal), that was just the wrong thing to focus on.
Suddenly, Tim Hudak was all about white guys – despite him looking out over Toronto sidewalks that skewed a bit more towards yellow and brown.
On top of that, the Progressive Conservative party – that’s led by Mr. Hudak – has always been the champion of big business.
So… Tim Hudak is all about rich white guys.
And yes… I’m using white guys on purpose since the PC party has never really been on board the women’s rights train – paying lip service to it when necessary, but always mumbling quietly about finding ways to outlaw abortions.
The funny thing about the “Foreigner” debacle is that, by and large, the immigrant population are the people most likely to agree with the PC platform since most of them have come from moderately- to radically conservative countries… which makes them more likely to drink the HarriBerry Blue™ Kool-Aid.
The idiocy of Hudak’s derailment is based on one glaring fact: they have no serious issues to grab the undecided voter’s attention.
Television advertisements paid for by the PC party have only harped on about taxes: Dalton McGuinty and his Fiberals are supposedly raising taxes every other week and twice on Christmas.
While it is true that taxes have gone up in Ontario, they’re not disproportionate to the rate of inflation… and there’s been a concrete need for any taxes implemented by the Liberal government over their past two mandates.
Evil Tax Number One a.k.a. The Health Care Premium: Do you have any idea how much money is needed to care for the rapidly aging Baby Boom generation? To care for the existing senior citizens? To battle health concerns like SARS and swine flu? Billions of dollars… billions of dollars that can’t be completely extracted from the amount of money brought into public coffers through various levels of personal and retail taxation – so the government needed a way to continue paying for our universal health care without digging itself further into debt.
Evil Tax Number Two a.k.a. The Eco-Tax: More than a million metric tons of used electronics used to go into landfills across the province before the turn of the century, and many still do… but that’s changing under the auspices of the Ontario Stewardship (a program that was itself set in motion by the previous PC government as a way to boost their environmental credentials) – and the money that’s required to start complex recycling programs province-wide has to come from somewhere… and where better to get that money than at the point of sale for the widescreen LCD television that you will discard in the next 5 years? That way, you’ve already paid for it’s recycling long before it’s necessary… instead of the government having to dip into it’s already strained and tattered pocketbook.
Evil Tax Number Three a.k.a. The HST: I’ve already explained why the HST is a necessary evil in previous blogs, so there’s not much I can add here. At the end of the day, Ontario needed to have the HST so it’s businesses could compete with other business entities around the world in our Global Economy because other jurisdictions in Europe, Asia, the U.S., Mexico, and South America already had in place single-point or so-called “value added” tax systems that made paying corporate taxes easier and more streamlined… and therefore cheaper over the long run.
With that Evil Tax Trifecta, surely Hudak could have made a better case for lowering taxes for the masses, right?
No… he couldn’t – and didn’t.
The HST couldn’t be revoked without activating a ‘poison pill’ scenario that was inserted by Hudak’s Conservative cousins in the federal government: if the province of Ontario were to revoke the HST, it would have to pay back $4 billion dollars in equalization money that’s already been sent to majority of Ontario citizens by those four special cheques you found in your mailbox over the past year – which would immediately be added to the province’s debt load and sinking the S.S. Ontario further into the Sea Of Red Ink… and would necessitate a rise in income taxes.
The best Hudak could promise on the HST front (and to be fair, Horwath has said the same things) was a modification of items that were included on the list of items taxable under HST – mainly removing the federal portion of the taxes on heating oil and electricity bills.
I suppose that would be nice, but hardly practical since it would cause a headache for the taxation department – a department that would eventually find a way to make up the difference from some other way of taxing you.
Onto the Health Care Premium.
Has Mr. Hudak said he would do away with those?
Nope. In fact, he’s said – very quietly and far away from voters waving little blue flags – that he will keep those in place because they do what I said they did a few paragraphs upwards from this one.
At the end of the day, the only one of those three Evil Taxes that Mr. Hudak and the PCs could tamper with in any meaningful way – and the meaning wouldn’t be necessarily good – would be the Eco-Tax.
However, as I hopefully made it clear up above, that would simply be a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul – letting you off the hook at the point of purchase and then raising your personal taxes to maintain funding for the recycling facilities for your disposable iPods, Blackberries, flat screen televisions, and laptops… and to also pay for the water purification plants that remove the chemicals you put down the drain every day.
Outside of he Evil Tax Trifecta, Hudak doesn’t have a platform.
Healthcare? It can be argued that Ontario’s health care system is in the best shape it’s ever been in.
Yes… there are still crowded emergency rooms at hospitals across the province, but the wait times are getting better on the whole – especially for surgeries that can change people’s lives… or let them continue their lives as whole persons.
A few years ago, I was in serious bicycle accident and I snapped my leg in three places – something that would have been seriously debilitating in decades and centuries past…. even so bad that amputation would have been considered in more primitive times.
Guess what? The accident happened just after 1 o’clock in the afternoon… and I was in surgery to have a titanium rod permanently inserted down the middle of my tibia with attending screws and other hardware required to regain structural integrity – allowing me to walk on it again within several months – at 6 o’clock in the evening on the very same day.
So, I went from mangled to mostly fixed in five hours… and I didn’t have to pay a single cent – not even for the ambulance ride.
No… our healthcare system may not be perfect, but it’s still pretty damn amazing when you consider how much it has to struggle when it comes to finances.
The Progressive Conservatives, during their last stint as the province’s controls had taken a slash n’ burn approach to healthcare – firing doctors and nurses, and closing nearly twenty hospitals across the province… which caused such systemic damage that Ontario’s healthcare system was amongst the worst in the country, and it’s only now (2011) that it’s gotten back to the top.
Hudak & Pals don’t have any where to go with education, either.
The Liberals under Dalton McGuinty have made some radical improvements to public education in Ontario.
More students are sticking it out all the way through high school, graduating with marks that they can be proud of.
Smaller class sizes have helped students get the attention they need from their teachers, which means they get the help they need if they need it – either in that same classroom, or in more specialized learning environments.
The biggest change, of course, was the implementation of full-day kindergarten for all youngsters – which had two effects: the first being that children started experiencing a constructive learning environment sooner than most other children in North America… and it eased the financial burdens of working families that would have otherwise had to pay for daycare or babysitting services.
There’s very little to complain about when it comes to Ontario’s public schools.
In fact, there’s very little for Ontarians to complain about on the whole as the province simply works.
Compared to the Mike Harris years – an era where nearly every public sector union in Ontario was on strike – that Tim Hudak clearly yearns for deeply, Ontario is firmly planted in the Garden Of Prosperity.
Yes… there are many people across the province who are out of work because of the current global financial climate that isn’t particular to Ontario.
However, there are many people who’ve either regained or retained their employment because of programs that the current Liberal government forced into being with their majority… programs that cost many billions of dollars, but had very clear and tangible results.
Sure – the bailing out of General Motors and Chrysler (now owned by Fiat) was a popularly unpopular move… but it kept those two massive companies who employed thousands of Ontarians (either directly or through companies G.M. and Chrysler depended on to build their cars and trucks) alive.
The manufacturing sector in Ontario – and the world at large – has taken a beating as money becomes tight for consumers.
Companies that face certain peril if they don’t downsize their workforce have no choice to let employees go… and this is not the fault of the Ontario government.
It’s the fault of American banks and financial institutions who squandered and pissed away more than a trillion dollars in crooked investments and other equally worthless endeavors – actions that had a ripple effect across the entire world of stock exchanges and investment banking from New York to Tokyo.
The current hard financial times facing Ontario are not something that was caused in Ontario, and is most definitely not the fault of the McGuinty Liberals.
However, Tim Hudak has done his best to blame Dalton McGuinty for it… and in the end, the blame hasn’t stuck.
Maybe because the average Ontario voter is smarter than that… and I would really hope that’s the case.
However, I think the Ontarian electorate is sticking with the Liberals because Ontario is in a better place than a lot of jurisdictions in North America – and even the world.
Dalton McGuinty goes on television and shows you all the good things the Liberals have done over the time they’ve been in charge – most of which I’ve discussed here.
…And Tim Hudak challenges McGuinty and Horwath to a BBQ cook-off.
If that wasn’t a sign of non-existent political platform, I really don’t know what is.
No you can’t.