Anyone else remember the 1960s? When Peter, Paul and Mary sang Pete Seeger’s ‘Where have all the flowers gone?‘ Each verse ends with a plaintive plea: “Oh, when will they ever learn?” The same it appears, according to former (1995-2002) Ontario Progressive Conservative Minister of Education and Natural Resources John Snobelen, writing in the Toronto Sun, applies to Ontario … one has to ask “Oh, when will they ever learn?“
The issue, John Snobelen says is that “Premier Kathleen Wynne and the Ontario Liberals are climbing in the polls just in time for next spring’s election … [and] … The Liberals’ rebounding prospects aren’t surprising … [because] … For several months the Wynne government has concentrated on retail politics, including a dramatic increase in the minimum wage and kicking $45 billion in hydro costs down the road to pay for a rate decrease now … [and, when you] … Combine all of this with the recent generous wage increases offered to public sector unions and it isn’t shocking Wynne and the Liberals are back in the race … [plus] … Just wait for the avalanche of debt-financed goodies Wynne will shower on every competitive riding over the next six months … [because] … Majority governments have several big advantages preparing for an election … [such as]: They can rent votes and send the bill to the next generation of taxpayers … [and] … They have a horde of incumbent MPPs who work on re-election full-time, supported by publicly paid staff.“
On the other hand, Mr Snobelen says, the “advantage for the Liberals [are] balanced by one small negative — their record … [thus] … To win the 2018 election the Progressive Conservatives and the NDP must focus on the Liberal record in three key areas: debt, taxes and hydro.” Patrick Brown, he suggests, must remind voters that:
- Under successive Liberal governments Ontario has become the most indebted sub-sovereign borrower in the world … [and] … That mountain of debt will be the one enduring legacy of the Dalton McGuinty/Kathleen Wynne era;
- Hydro is the most obvious trouble spot for the Liberals … Former premier McGuinty promised a new era of prosperity for Ontario when he passed the Green Energy Act in 2009 ... [but] … That turned out to be a freckle optimistic … [because] … Eight years later, Ontarians are paying the highest hydro rates in Canada … [and] … The auditor general puts the premium Ontarians paid for power between 2006 and 2014 at $37 billion; [and]
- Then there’s the tax problem … Carrying the burden of increasing mortgage rates and the highest car insurance premiums in Canada, working Ontarians are on wobbly knees facing ever increasing taxes and fees.“
So, I have two questions:
- Will Ontarians (and, in fact, all Canadian) ever learn that the Liberals cannot be trusted to manage the public purse or, even, to adhere to the most rudimentary levels of integrity?
- Will the Conservative party of Canada be ready when, starting now, the federal Liberals start doing what the Wynne Liberals are already doing: practicing the most cynical and irresponsible sorts of retail politics?