Thursday, May 20, 2004



So they're the Fiberals now.

I read the Toronto Star's coverage of the first Ontario Liberal budget with great interest, since I pretty much knew they couldn't keep two key election promises, which were mutually exclusive:

1. Not raise taxes
2. Improve health care and education

Thinking that they would raise enough money through "streamlining" government (read: selling off assets) was pure fantasy. I went into this budget expecting promise one to get broken, and I was not disappointed.

So why are so many others?

When will everyone figure it out.....50% of politicians are born liars and the other 50% are convicted ones. Maybe I'm just overly cynical, but I have yet to meet an honest politician. When we are in an election cycle, each party posits a platform 180 degrees away from their opponent. Conservatives say they will have to raise taxes and slash spending, Liberals will say they'll hold on taxes and raise spending (which defies basic economics, but that's one for later). The NDP winds up somewhere in the vicinity of a mash of those two promises. Canadian political parties (and, to a degree, the American ones as well) have drifted so far from their "traditional" platforms, they have reached the point where they will say whatever they have to in order to get elected and then hold on for dear life as they move in a completely opposite direction from their platform once they arrive.

There was absolutely NO WAY that McGuinty could make his platform work, especially once the debt levels were finally presented. If he was a man of integrity, he would have come out then and said that he was sorry, but the government was going to have to raise funds to manage the deficit, since the health care and education systems' needs far outweighed keeping taxes down. If he had done that, Finance Minister Sorbara could have delivered his "bad news" budget and gotten a much better spin on it, since he could point to the fact that he did not have to resort to an across-the-board income tax hike. I am also annoyed by the fact that the Liberals are rewriting their own legislation to avoid the required referendum to raise taxes and they are only taking a $9,000/year pay cut for breaking their word, as shown in the excerpt below:

Cabinet members will each take a $9,000 pay cut this year as a penalty for breaking the Balanced Budget Act that the Liberals voted for while in opposition.

The government says it will then repeal the act and replace it with a bill that subjects the province's books to an independent audit six months before the next election.

The combined pay cut of about $200,000 will be applied to the deficit for this year, Sorbara said, adding that the Liberals will not submit the planned health tax hike to a referendum as dictated by the Taxpayer Protection Act.

Sorbara said the Liberals will instead amend the balanced budget act with an eye to replacing it entirely.

Read the whole article here.

Now, I am a bedrock conservative, but I applaud the Liberals for what they did with this budget. Personally, I have no problem paying for eye tests and throwing more money into supporting the health care system. I also support rebuilding the education system, particularly our public schools, which are rapidly becoming frightening places. Harris' approach (slashing spending and taxes) works to a degree, but if it ever gets even slightly mismanaged, you end up in a hole like Ontario is now (long waiting lists for critical care, shoddy schools with oversized classes, huge deficits, etc.). I just wish they had been more upfront about it and sent McGuinty out to do damage control beforehand.

I have a sneaking suspicion that this will not be easy for the Liberals to live down and Sorbara has said as much. That would be a shame for a government that has inherited such a mess and is just doing their best to clean it up.

As for Ernie Eves, whose only comment was "Zap, you're taxed" should keep your mouth shut, since you're the one who got us into this mess.

More later, as I will do a 24 post and maybe even start down the road of why I think George W. Bush should not receive a second term in the White House and how he can change my mind, which should make for interesting conversation with Austin