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The Tories' Election Platform
16/05/2003
Today, Ernie Eves announced his party's election platform at an indoor Go-Kart racetrack. After their "auto-parts" infomercial "budget", I didn't expect them to up the ante in laughable political antics. And yet, they out-do themselves! This is so funny, it's hard to make fun of. But, Warren Kinsella has managed to do it (scroll to May 16). It seems like the Tories are trying to keep their poll numbers moving to ever-lower numbers. (They hit 28% in a poll released today.) A major pillar in Eves' election platform is a mortgage deduction. I have already written about why I think this is a bad idea, and James Bow has also followed up with a good post on the same subject. A new item introduced today is a promise to prevent municipalities from raising taxes without passing a referendum. This, I feel, is just another foolish intervention into municipal government by this Tory party. Here in Toronto we know what happens when the provincial government prevents a city from being able to control its own fiscal destiny -- tax restructuring and Toronto-specific tax caps have left the city with no choice but to slash services and beg for help. Even despite these cuts and so-called bailouts from the province, the city has required tax increases. Imagine what would happen here if disgruntled voters, angry about getting less while paying more, prevented the city from passing the tax increases in needs to survive. Many voters in this over-sized megacity would have a hard time recognizing the differences between City Hall's mismanagement and Queen's Park's destructive policies. (As for referendums, they were part of Tory policy before they were elected in 1995, and they are talking about them now, but it's too bad they ignored them when they could have prevented a major disaster -- the March 3, 1997 anti-megacity vote!) The rest of the platform details are described in their press release. At the end of the press release is an entirely-bogus balance sheet for the costs of these new policies. First-year costs for each policy are listed, and total $658 million. Then, magically, we see "annual administrative efficiencies" as a credit for $700 million. The net result is a wonderful surplus of $42 million! These Tories are truly desperate. Already their non-budget has been criticized as being actually in a deep deficit situation, despite Tory promises of yet-to-be-determined asset sales. Now, they wish to tack on hundreds of millions more, and yet claim that everything will be fine because of yet-to-be-determined cost savings. These guys can't be trusted, and I am quite concerned about the state provincial finances will be in after a new administration takes over.
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