Tuesday, May 13, 2014

One week in and Hudak’s looking good

This time around, Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak seems to be doing a really good job of articulating his party’s agenda and making the contrast—in his favour—between his PCs and Kathleen Wynne’s Grits.

I especially like the fiscal conservative bias to Hudak’s campaign and its emphasis on jobs, jobs, jobs—one million jobs over eight years, in fact.

I also like that Hudak’s being forthright and clear about his agenda—unlike Wynne who pretends to be running against Prime Minister Stephen Harper whose name wont, of course, be on the June 12 election ballot.

Yes, Tim Hudak has experienced a couple of hiccups: he held photo-ops at the premises of two companies which have received grants from the Liberal government—a practice Hudak calls “corporate welfare.”

Hudak, though, explained that he didn’t blame the companies for trying to get some of their tax money back. And I believe most voters would understand companies—even socially responsible ones—would want to take advantage of any government programs for which they qualify. Don’t they owe that to their shareholders?

If these minor issues are the best a mostly hostile mainstream media can find to criticize the PC campaign for, I think Hudak is off to a good start.

The Tory leader lays his agenda on the line, bitter-sweet medicine though it is, telling voters his government would cut 100,000 public sector jobs and add a million new jobs over eight years. His plan is simple and has five key elements: cheaper energy, more free trade, less red tape, lower taxes and more skilled trades.

Some criticize the plan and doubt its viability, but as Sandy Crux explains here:

“the plan can most definitely work just as it did between 1995 and 2002/3.  In fact, it was towards the end of that period when Ontario was booming, thanks to several years of Mike Harris PC Government business friendly policies.”

Sandy adds:

I can’t help thinking how much better it would have been if union officials had actually worked with the former Tory government in a proactive and productive way, rather than simply fight day in and day out to keep all their entitlements.”

Kathleen Wynne cherry-picks the McGuinty-Wynne record rather than openly embracing it. She tries her best to avoid even mentioning Dalton McGuinty’s name or their record on any of the following:

Broken campaign promise not to raise taxes and then instituting an annual health premium of up to $900 per individual; Caledonia and the Grits’ shameful abandonment of the residents of that Ontario community; eHealth medical records scandal; Ornge air ambulance service’s financial irregularities, cost overruns, huge salaries for managers;  and Cancelled Power Plants.

Need I say more?

While one cannot expect a politician to confess her sins during an election, to so brazenly ignore them while taking credit for anything not tainted by scandal or mismanagement takes a lot of brass, and more disingenuity than I find seemly.

And as to job creation, Wynne proposes the risky strategy of picking winners and losers and subsidizing those companies she favours. She pledged in the recent Liberal budget $2.5-billion in new grants under a 10-year Jobs and Prosperity Fund.

Tim Hudak has said a Tory government would end such grants and, instead, it would cut taxes and red tape to attract investment with job-creation potential.

I see the Tory strategy as being the more effective; subsidizing private companies is not economically smart. Even the business-friendly Fraser Institute has referred to these grants as “corporate welfare” and has claimed they are unfair and inefficient.

Companies with the best chance of success—those with low-risk business models and the highest financial upsides—will have little trouble attracting affordable capital. They don’t need government subsidies to survive. They will happily take a government grant if one is offered, but they would survive nicely without it.

Government handouts too often go to those companies that have trouble attracting private capital because their business models are too risky—too much of a downside. And all too often, these subsidies provide jobs at a very high price, sometimes exceeding six figures per individual job.

For one example of the risk inherent in governments trying to pick (or make) winners consider the Grits’ “green energy” plan. The McGuinty-Wynne government decided to subsidize renewable energy companies. Dalton McGuinty predicted that the subsidies would make Ontario a world-leader in green energy technology, creating thousands of jobs.

Unfortunately for Ontarians, the Liberals’ plan backfired: the province’s manufacturing sector now sees its former electricity-cost advantage transformed into a job-killing competitive disadvantage. Moreover, Ontario household power rates are among the highest in North America, and they will continue to soar because of the Liberal government’s “green energy” plan.

With their track-record on green energy, I’d not trust the Grits to pick winners in the private sector, would you?

It’s still early days, of course, but I feel pretty good about the first week of the PC’s campaign. Here’s hoping they can keep it up.


  1. I am surprised how few are paying attention to an election that to most of us who follow politics is crucial to Ontario's recovery.

    Stunned is a better word. No one's paying a bit of attention around this neck of the woods. Haven't seen one campaign sign in my region yet.

    I have to wonder if Wynne is counting on very few paying attention because the media is still not giving Hudak his due and helping move his message IMO. Horwath's the media's dream girl at the moment. I think it may work for her.


  2. this poll is encouraging

  3. "Hudak, though,
    explained that he didn’t
    blame the companies for
    trying to get some of
    their tax money back.
    And I believe most voters
    would understand
    companies—even socially
    responsible ones—would
    want to take advantage
    of any government
    programs for which they
    qualify. "

    Good to see him channeling Milton Friedman on those points. Not surprising coming from the guy who pointed out in how the Liberals "inherited" a projected deficit* of 5 billion, and ballooned it into a 20 billion dollar one in the same time frame.

    *by "projected" wasn't written in stone as the PC's new the private markets would pick up the slack, and did, not that the auditor of those days cared to understand that.

  4. I miss phrased that: "[...] and ballooned [spending by] 20 billion dollars in the same time frame."

    they had plenty of revenue coming in they only choose to accelerate spending and government expansion well beyond what you would expect from a new party in office.

    Taking money from people to spend it for them or "on their behalf" hardly sounds like a fix of any kind for a projected deficit.

    I had read through all the of the budgets
    from 2001 to 2009 before they removed them from. I thought i heard the rewrote several years of budgets after he brought it up. I have copies so will check once I get back to it.

  5. unions and the whole of Ontario and Canada would of been well off if they did indeed had they of been patient with Harris. Taking a small hit at that time in comparison, while allowing the price sectors to bring up the momentum through their own innovations, where others had failed.

    being payed more in x amount of dollars don't matter in the short term if the long term means you'll have less access to products and services worth paying for or even cheaper prices.

    I bet Zimbabwe has "high wages" when their toilet paper cost trillions in their own currency. Some Unions seem to care little for the value of money, they just demand more, thinking nothing of consequences.

    its good products or services that pay the wages, not the wages that come before the other!
    All businesses have to start somewhere and its not with their employees. Though they both stand to benefit in the long term outcomes.
    the union mentality of jobs for us but not them, higher wages before harder work or wages so we too can be like the Joneses without first living within our means.

    this really applies to anyone but they clutch it like security blankets well pass their age of infancy.
    if they hate their jobs or work that much then why do they also block other employers from competitively employing them with better pay or benefits?

    they demand job or pension security but put no thought into how its attained or kept.
    a union isn't supposed to be a boys club but a tool to handle work related issues like injuries or legalities that they would otherwise have easy access to against a big employer. but these days there could be several private businesses that could fulfill those roles and needs for alot cheaper then the dues they pay that end up in political coffers or other activities unrelated to work.