We’re off to the races

Well, we are off to the races, with the election date set for Thursday, June 12 here in Ontario.
After the budget that Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government delivered at Queen’s Park last Thursday, I fully expected that Andrea Horwath and her NDP caucus would stand behind the premier and the legislature would go on for another year.
I like both women. Both Andrea and Kathleen are practical, down-to-earth people and I find them both sincere and approachable.
The Liberal budget did have all the goodies an indebted province could find. It promised infrastructure money, transit money, money for hospitals, a plan for a provincial pension plan, a billion dollars to build a road to the “Ring of Fire,” more money for the child benefit program, and much more.
There was not a spending item in the budget that neither Ontarians, nor the NDP, couldn’t be bribed with.
What it did lack was a means to pay for the initiatives. The budget did call for additional taxes on tobacco and more taxes on people making more than $150,000 per year.
In the end, the government was going to spend some $12.5 billion more than it would take in. And the shortfall would increase Ontarian’s debt to almost $300 billion, with the average share per Ontario resident topping $20,000.
Andrea Horwath, in her news conference that sent Kathleen Wynne scurrying off to the Lt.-Gov.’s office on Friday afternoon, suggested the reason she couldn’t support the Wynne budget was that she didn’t trust the government to do what it said it was going to do.
It is important to note that Tim Hudak, the Progressive Conservative leader, has been accusing firstly former premier Dalton McGuinty, and now Kathleen Wynne, of operating a corrupt government.
Hudak has told anyone who would listen that you couldn’t trust the Liberals. It all stems from a McGuinty decision to cancel two natural gas power-generating stations in provincial ridings that were hotly-contested in the last provincial election.
The cancellations have cost Ontario taxpayers more than $1 billion.
This past Friday, Andrea Horwath came to the same conclusion that you couldn’t trust the Liberal provincial government.
Now we get to make a decision on whom to trust. Do we want another pension plan? Do we want more money for rapid transit in Ontario?
Tim Hudak already has let it be known that he will strike a much tighter financial program to eliminate the deficits and begin paying down the debt. The last time such a situation faced the province, there was a significant amount of downloading to municipalities.
We may have gotten a glimpse of such downloading when Transportation minister Glen Murray, speaking at the NOMA conference here late last month, suggested a new model for provincial winter highway maintenance would be for municipalities to take it over.
It was a trial balloon. Other parties will float their own trial balloons in the next six weeks—some of which will be filled with helium; others with lead.
Just be prepared for hundreds of telephone calls at supper, your door bell ringing, and someone interrupting you as you mow your grass in the evening.

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