Toronto Star's View: The Ontario NDP’s campaign...
|
Bookmark and Share
May 23, 2014  |  Vote 0    0

Toronto Star's View: The Ontario NDP’s campaign platform offers populist platitudes

The Ontario NDP defeated the Liberal government’s progressive budget for a platform of scattered promises

OurWindsor.Ca

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath’s new campaign platform inadvertently raises one rather noteworthy question: You forced an election for this?

After refusing to support a Liberal budget packed with progressive promises, Horwath finally produced her campaign platform on Thursday and it was nothing short of underwhelming.

And while it’s anyone’s guess which party will win this election, there was an expectation that Horwath’s ambition for the premier’s job would be matched by an inspiring and comprehensive vision. Without a more robust plan for Ontario, she had no good reason to defeat a Liberal budget so aligned with traditional NDP principles of social justice.

But Horwath’s plan looks like the original Liberal budget topped with a sprinkling of populist pledges. It’s big on shiny baubles and thin on NDP bedrock issues like poverty. It could have been written over lattes at Starbucks.

To that end, Horwath says she would cut provincial HST from hydro bills (a saving of some $120 per year for a typical family), cap the wages of public sector CEOs, and hit corporations with a small tax hike. She’s also promising to dramatically cut emergency room wait times by hiring 250 nurse practitioners, although with 224 public hospital sites their impact would be largely diluted.

Horwath is echoing Tim Hudak’s push for small government, but unlike the Tory leader, who says he would cut 100,000 public sector jobs, her plan to achieve that is fuzzy. How will she cut, as promised, $600 million from the budget? The plan calls for a “minister of savings and accountability” to cut cabinet by one-third, consolidate “overlapping agencies” and cap those CEO salaries.

To be fair, Wynne and Hudak aren’t providing every last detail on their plans for savings either. But in a speech peppered with references to “respect” for Ontarians, Horwath might have exhibited some by explaining the impact of her budget cuts. Would she reduce jobs? Scale back on social services? Voters should see this debated long before the June 12 voting day.

Of course, there are some decent ideas. A business tax credit linked to job creation might inspire private companies to start hiring again. A tuition freeze will provide some stability for students, particularly because the NDP says it would continue to offer the Liberal government’s 30 per cent tuition grant for most students. And Horwath’s promise to give primary caregivers a tax credit of $1,275 per year would offer families some minor financial help.

But on key issues like gridlock — the biggest topic in Toronto these days — the NDP’s $29-billion transit plan was clearly lifted from the Liberal budget. And Horwath promises to create jobs by developing the northern “Ring of Fire” project but doesn’t mention that it first requires billions of dollars to build roads and infrastructure. It’s all so vague.

With another 19 days in the election campaign, anything can happen. But it will be interesting to see how many voters are so wary of Hudak’s tilt to the right and so hungry for change after 11 years of Liberal government that they are prepared to choose a premier who is so obviously winging it.

Toronto Star

|
Bookmark and Share

(0) Comment

Join The Conversation Sign Up Login

In Your Neighbourhood Today

SPONSORED CONTENT View More