The Ontario Liberals unveiled the priorities and agenda for the coming year in the Throne Speech yesterday. It includes, as part of the Open Ontario Plan;
-A new Water Opportunities Act to take advantage of the province’s expertise in clean-water technology to create more, good jobs for Ontario families;
-A new Ontario Online Institute to give students access to the best professors in top university programs from their home computers;
-New legislation to improve accountability in our publicly-funded health care system;
-Improving services for patients by encouraging health professionals to work together; and
-Capitalizing on north-western Ontario’s chromite deposits, while working with Northerners and Aboriginal communities and continuing to protect half of the northern Boreal Forest (chromite is a key ingredient in stainless steel).
The five-year plan includes several initiatives already underway:
- A tax reform package, which will create nearly 600,000 new Ontario jobs;
-The Green Energy Act, which will create up to 50,000 jobs;
-$32-billion investment in roads, bridges, public transit and energy retrofits for schools that is creating and sustaining over 300,000 jobs;
- Full-day learning for four- and five-year olds, starting at schools across the province this September; and
- A strategy to make Toronto one of the world’s leading financial centres
And what was Tim Hudak's response?
Showing up late to the speech, missing Oh Canada, and then heckling the representative of the Queen, The Honourable David Onley while he delivered the speech. This was a shameful display for a man who wishes to be the next Premier.
What is also shameful is that Hudak continues to attack the government plan to move Ontario forward, without putting forward any ideas of his own. But don't take my word for it:
Go to the Ontario PC website and find me any indication what Tim Hudak wants to see in this year's budget? Would he sell assets if he was in charge? Would he cut any programs? Cut taxes? How about raise them? I honestly have no idea. (Robert Silver, Globe and Mail, Feb 20)
Outside of platitudes...Mr. Hudak made little effort to explain what he would do differently. (Adam Radwanski, Globe and Mail, March 8)
What a PC government would do...remains a mystery. (Tony Spears, Ottawa Citizen, March 6)
And even PC's themselves are admitting they have nothing to stand on:
"It’s a byelection, it’s not about policy and platform” (Beth Graham, Ottawa West-Nepean by-election candidate, Ottawa Citizen, March 6)
The policy void even extends to the grassroots, which the PC's always like to crow is the core of the party:
Harvey Prudhomme, of Sarnia...declined to discuss potential policy, Gurmit Singh, from the Greater Toronto Area...couldn’t or wouldn’t name any concrete policies he hoped to see implented (Ottawa Citizen, March 6)
And the hypocrisy of his party campaigning against the HST, when the PC's (and Hudak himself) have both spoke in favour of it, and never committed to actually getting rid of it.
Hudak said they would continue to fight the tax, but could not repeal it (Metro Ottawa, March 8)
Making the HST the centrepiece of their campaign has its own challenges, not least because key Conservatives support it. Federal Tories led by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, a former provincial cabinet minister — whom Hudak supported when he ran to replace Eves as Tory leader — and a bevy of Conservative luminaries including Harris and Bob Runciman have spoken in favour of harmonization. So did Hudak at one time. (Mohammed Adam, Ottawa Citizen, March 5)
Once the HST is implemented, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to undo. (Lisa MacLeod, MPP for Nepean-Carleton and the Revenue Critic for the PC's, National Post, November 19)
"…we understand how that (single sales tax) can help the economy.” —Tim Hudak, MPP (Niagara-West Glanbrook), March 24, 2009
“I agree that there’s little sense in allowing two separate governments to apply two separate taxes and policies and collect two separate groups of sales taxes.” —Tim Hudak, MPP (Niagara-West Glanbrook), April 23, 2009
"In principle, we think it's something that should occur." —Former MPP and PC leader Bob Runciman, (Leeds-Grenville), March 25, 2009
"…I am not saying that harmonization ultimately is a bad idea." —Peter Shurman, MPP (Thornhill), March 24, 2009
"I think right now (people) think of a harmonized tax as being an increased tax, you know, period, full stop. That isn't what it is." —John Tory (former Ontario Conservative leader), November 14, 2007
"Moving to a harmonized sales tax is very good for the economy and it's certainly going to help with our business competitiveness… It's in the best interests of the economy in the long term." —Janet Ecker (former PC Minister of Education), Toronto Sun, September 22, 2009
Tim Hudak and the PC's are the party of anger, nothing more. The people of Ontario deserve better, and have been making their voices heard by re-electing Liberal MPP's in every held seat since Hudak became leader.