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A recipe for political dynamite
Take one Premier Dad.
Add a PC leader who was recently accorded a tepid vote of support from party faithful.
Add a New Democratic Party leader whose approval rating with voters is soaring.
Add a dash of Don Drummond. Season with a juicy ORNGE scandal.
Shake it all up with a minority government — and what do you get?
A recipe for political dynamite as MPPs return to Queen’s Park after the Christmas break.
Premier Dalton McGuinty hasn’t spoken to reporters since last week’s release of the wide ranging report from economist Don Drummond outlining ways to cut funding.
Why is that? Is McGuinty running scared?
Or is he busy with a red pen in some ivory tower somewhere, scrapping this program, slashing that?
The polite sub-text of the Drummond report is a searing indictment of Liberal overspending. The McGuinty government spent themselves silly.
The lavish programs that have been the hallmark of McGuinty’s regime are what are digging us into a hole.
Look at what he suggests cutting.
Exhibit A — Full-day kindergarten. Sure, it’s a terrific boon for families with small children. But at $1.5 billion it was absolutely the wrong program to bring in at a time when the economy was tanking.
Exhibit B — McGuinty wants to be known as the green energy guy; no matter how much it adds to our bill.
Outrage over soaring energy bills prompted the Liberals to bring in the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit — the 10% rebate on your hydro bill.
Cut it immediately, says Drummond.
Exhibit C: Drummond says all federal and provincial post-secondary tuition grants and rebates should dropped and assistance should instead be focused on low-income students.
This includes the 30% tuition rebate that was part of the Liberal election platform last year.
Once again, yet another well-meaning but lavish program we just can’t afford.
So how will Finance Minister Dwight Duncan get his budget passed by the Legislature?
He’s going to need the support of one party — likely the NDP.
What does that mean?
Tax hikes, for sure.
New Democratic leader Andrea Horwath was making noises about that at a news conference last week.
We don’t need cuts if we increase revenues, she said.
That means the Liberals and NDP will likely cut a deal on the corporate tax cuts the Liberals promised in their last campaign.
If you don’t give businesses a break, the government can go on merrily overspending forever.
It’s an interesting compromise — and one that begs the question will the NDP and Liberals go for a formal or informal coalition?
In return for their support, will the Liberals give the NDP seats at the cabinet table — as the Tory government of David Cameron has done in the UK with Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats.
That’s not likely, for several reasons, the most compelling being that it would likely spell the demise of the NDP.
They’re simply not a big enough party or mature enough to stop themselves from being swallowed by the Liberal behemoth.
It also guarantees that spending will continue to spiral out of control.
An alliance with the NDP guarantees the government won’t get tough with public sector unions or attempt to rein in runaway spending.
All this at a time when Drummond has warned that the status quo isn’t sustainable.
If we continue down this primrose path, by 2017-18, the deficit will be more than $30 billion and the net debt will have soared to a massive $411 billion — more than 50% of the province’s GDP.
A toxic mix for sure.
And explosive if the government doesn’t take the right steps — now.
What do you think?
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