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Eves' "Bonfire of Political Bribes"
10/09/2003

The Ontario Conservatives' election platform amounts to a bonfire of political bribes.

So writes Jeffrey Simpson in his column today in The Globe and Mail.

On the same day that the Tories unleashed their attack ads, criticizing Dalton McGuinty for being opposed to mortgage tax deductions and seniors' tax exemptions, The Globe unleashed a bit of an onslaught against those same policies.

As an aside, I've found The Globe and Mail's opinion pieces to be strongly anti-Eves in this campaign. I hope that their news coverage has been balanced -- I haven't been following closely enough -- but most of their columnists seem to have strong views. A McGuinty endorsement from this newspaper looks like a sure thing.

Anyway, in both Simpson's column and one of their editorials today, The Globe roasted Eves' platform and its reliance on highly-targeted tax breaks.

The tax break to seniors is slammed by Simpson thusly:

[It is] a $450-million giveaway to seniors who will not be required to pay the provincial portion of property taxes. Seniors, in other words, will be opting out of financing public schools, from which they and their children graduated. This is the worst kind of intergenerational bribery, especially when contrasted with the huge additional sums being poured into health care, a service disproportionately used by seniors.

Here is what he has to say about the private school tax subsidy:

Move along to the bribe for those who send their children to private schools. In the Conservatives' bonfire of bribery, this may be the most outrageous one of all, a shameful gift to the better-off who have opted out of the public school system. That they should have done so is a matter of private choice; that they should be rewarded by the public purse cannot be justified by any rational argument.

In one of those Orwellian phrases, the Conservatives call this the "equity in education tax credit," whereas in fact, the credit increases the inequity between those who support the public system and those who don't.

The Globe's editorial tackles mortgage deductability in more depth. And Simpson gets his shots in. But they mostly cover the criticisms that have been said before.

These new initiatives have several things in common:

  1. They all pay off key swing voters at the expense of everyone else (read: you and me)
  2. They aren't backed up by sound policy principles. Their reason for existing is #1, above.
  3. They are all regressive tax reforms
  4. They all are unaffordable... this province seems to be in a deficit situation, and Eves' explanations of how he will pay for these tax breaks -- more undefined discoveries of "efficiencies" -- are fluff

Actually, in my view, this is the style that the Harris-Eves era has been about from the beginning. It's just a lot more obvious now.


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