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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Harmonizers

Civilizations, noted Arnold Toynbee, are not murdered but commit suicide. The same goes for governments. The question is why Dalton McGuinty decided two majority governments in a row was enough. He was the first Ontario Grit leader to win back to back majorities since the days of Mitch Hepburn. Maybe 2007 was just too darn close. Not that the election was close, but that the Ontario PCs had a very good chance of winning at the onset. Mediocrity and drift will get you only so far in Canadian politics, at some point even the quiet souls who make up Ontario's electorate will want actual leadership. Banning pit bulls - easily the highlight of the current government accomplishments - doesn't quite cut it. 

John Tory's strategic error in backing government funding for religiously based private schools - as opposed to a tax credit for all private schools, which the Eves government had supported - was a gift from the Gods for the Liberal Party. With only the slightest suggestive effort needed, images of public funds paying for madrasahs in Mississauga, and creationist science classes in Redneck, Ontario, quickly fixed themselves in the public mind. Catholic schools have always been controversial in the province, a hold over from a pre-Confederation compromise when Ontario and Quebec were part of the united Province of Canada. When Bill Davis announced full funding of Catholic Schools in 1984, it sunk his successor Frank Miller's chances of prolonging the four decade old PC dynasty. John Tory repeated his mentor's mistake. Education is the third-rail of Ontario politics. It is the last field of public life where the topic of religion can swing elections. 

The Tory misstep in 2007 was a one-off. With Tory himself shuffled off in a surprise by-election defeat in the March of this year, the road was clear for a more politically astute leader. While unfortunately having the too bright sheen of a career politician, Tim Hudak is unlikely to repeat the mistakes of his predecessor. Young, bright and amiable, he is a plausible alternative to a McGuinty government long in the tooth. When the provincial budget was announced in late March (a few weeks after Tory's defeat), Minister of Finance Dwight Duncan surprised the legislature by announcing the harmonization of provincial and federal sales taxes. 

Effective July 1st, 2010, the measure was sold as an administrative reform, allowing businesses to remit one set of tax paperwork rather than two. The only catch, which the government has been spinning hard against anyone noticing, is that the harmonization will require the PST to cover as many goods and services as the GST. Since the latter is far more encompassing, this is among the biggest tax hikes in the province's history. The desperate hope of the Grits is that the added revenue will help plug the government's massive deficit. By October 2011, the date of the next election, the additional revenues will no doubt help the government. They will also begin to pinch the electorate. Here's to reminding them of eight years of broken promises, mediocre government and a steadily increasing tax burden.

Posted by Richard Anderson on August 25, 2009 | Permalink


The next election will be another one issue job turning on Hudak's promise to shut down the OHRC/OHRT. He will either publically disavow that promise or be talking about nothing else for two monthes when the writ drops.

Posted by: bigcitylib | 2009-08-25 9:42:52 AM

I see BCL has a sense of humour, since supporters of the OHRC/OHRT are few and far between.

Posted by: Alain | 2009-08-26 11:23:17 AM

"I see BCL has a sense of humour, since supporters of the OHRC/OHRT are few and far between."

True..but they are still there and funded by you and I. A constant reminder how far we have drifted from being a free country.


Posted by: peterj | 2009-08-27 11:05:09 PM

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