It is curious to me that healthcare should lead as the election issue most important to voters. Obviously, our health and delivery of its care is, and should be, of upmost importance to Canadians, but during a federal election? I can see it topping the issues of concern in a provincial election—provinces, after all, have constitutionally-protected responsibility for healthcare.
Something else that I find curious: the extent to which Canadian voters gave a pass to the Jean Chrétien Liberals throughout the 1990s when they slashed transfer payments to the provinces for healthcare—something Prime Minister Stephen Harper has pledged not to do. Fortunately, former premier of Ontario Mike Harris saved our province’s publicly funded healthcare program by revitalizing the Ontario economy—after the Bob Rae New Democrats had left it in shambles—and managing around the deep federal cuts.
Under federal Conservative minority governments since 2006, billions of dollars of healthcare funding have been restored to the provinces, and the Tories have pledged not to eliminate the current deficit by reducing healthcare funding. PM Harper has also been restrained in announcing any new billion-dollar initiatives, knowing full well our economy can’t support them while we’re in deficit.
With a keen eye on the polls, however, Michael Ignatieff is announcing yet another billion-dollar program when he knows full well our provinces struggle to fund the basic public healthcare program we already have in place. A prudent manage, I would think, fixes systems currently in place before expanding them, but not Mr. Ignatieff.
The Liberal leader claims that by increasing corporate taxes, he’ll get the extra money to pay for his campaign promise. But is this likely?
Economists consistently tell us that increasing corporate taxes puts a drag on the economy, ultimately reducing tax revenues. Senior Liberal MP John McCallum, a former cabinet minister and economist, apparently understands this and said as much on a recent radio program. Leader of the NDP Jack Layton understands this—that’s why Mr. Layton has promised to lower the tax on smaller corporations, i.e., to increase jobs and investment, leading inevitably to higher government revenues. Even Mr. Ignatieff’s Liberal colleague in Ontario, tax-and-spend Dalton McGuinty, knows it’s prudent to lower corportate taxes—read his most recent budget document.
Oh, I’m pretty sure Michael Ignatieff also knows full well that raising corporate taxes is not a prudent thing to do, after all, he voted in parliament to reduce the tax in the first place. But Mr. Ignatieff believes he can slip this one past the voters on May 2 by dangling another billion-dollar giveaway in front of them.
Just remember, readers, the last time the Liberals took office with a deficit, they slashed healthcare transfers to the provinces, chances are they’ll do it again. Don’t hold your breath waiting for the Grits to make good on any of their free-spending, anti-business initiatives, chances are they’ll never see the light of day, because we just can’t afford them.