LONDON, ONT. - Tim Hudak is stepping up his attacks on Liberal government handouts of cash to corporations, calling the practice “economically disastrous” and “morally wrong.”
Taking aim at one of Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne's signature strategies for keeping and luring jobs to Ontario, the Progressive Conservative leader said in a hard-hitting speech prepared for the London Chamber of Commerce that lower taxes are more effective.
“The McGuinty-Wynne government gave millions to Kellogg's for a plant in Belleville that employs 100 workers — the same Kellogg's that turned around and closed a hundred-year-old plant, laying off six times as many workers in London.”
The city is one of the key battlegrounds in the June 12 election, visited frequently by all major party leaders with the Conservatives and NDP hoping to defeat veteran MPP and Liberal candidate Deb Matthews — Wynne's deputy premier and health minister — in London North Centre.
Hudak said his 30 per cent cut to corporate taxes would be financed by scrapping Wynne's $2.5 billion “corporate welfare slush fund.”
He slammed it as a scandal-in-the-waiting with money “to be handed out at the sole discretion of Liberal politicians” and compared it to social assistance cheques.
“Can you imagine if politicians personally decided who got regular welfare . . . maybe give out twice as much welfare in Liberal ridings as in opposition ridings?”
Wynne accused Hudak earlier this week of an approach that would “destroy” Ontario's auto industry by refusing to provide aid to keep high-paying jobs.
The Tory leader said his plan is fair because it means “the same rules for everybody . . . no lobbyist required” and predicted the lower corporate taxes would create 120,000 new jobs.
Hudak also claimed there is “no criteria” for which businesses get government funding.
“The $2.5 billion corporate welfare slush fund is the next gas plant scandal,” he charged.
“It is corruption waiting to happen. And the day we elect a new PC government, the era of crony capitalism in Ontario ends.”
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has said she favours job guarantees in exchange for corporate handouts.
Critics say lower taxes do not necessarily lead to new jobs or investment, pointing to falling corporate taxes in the last few years and large piles of cash hoarded by some companies.