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.”
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.