DAVID W. KEEN
With a provincial election in the near future, it seems students, and all Ontarians, are struggling to make sense of everything that’s been discussed, promised and accused.
So much of the current political climate depends on the sound-byte, the scare tactic and the negative campaign, that it’s hard to make sense of it all.
Most important is knowing where each candidate stands on the issues and how each candidate is likely to change life in Ontario if elected.
Dalton McGuinty, the Liberal incumbent, is running for a third term as premier of Ontario. The biggest knock against McGuinty from his critics is his and his party’s proclivity for raising (and creating) taxes. The debate between the Liberals raising taxes to pay for social programs and the Progressive Conservatives (PC) cutting social programs to lower taxes is nothing new, but McGuinty has become known for promising not to raise taxes, only to renege when it comes time to pay the bill, as in 2004 with the health premium and again with the harmonized sales tax introduced last year.
McGuinty and the Liberals introduced the “All-Day-K” program that is bringing all-day kindergarten across Ontario, a program proving popular amongst voters. McGuinty’s plan also includes $1,600 a year in tuition relief for full-time undergraduate university students and $730 for college students, $80 million to spur the development and investment in electric car-charging stations and phasing out coal-fired power plants.
Tim Hudak, a Fort Erie native and Ontario’s Progressive Conservative leader has railed against Premier McGuinty’s tax policy but, like his New Democrat counterparts, has promised to keep many of them, such as the health premium, in place. The HST would also remain under a Hudak government, although he has promised to remove the provincial portion on home heating and electricity bills.
Despite attacking the “all-day K” program as too expensive in uncertain economic times, Hudak has reversed his position and now promises to leave the program untouched. Conservatives point to this as evidence of Hudak being able to listen to the people while Liberals are painting the turnaround as Hudak letting the polls determine his policy.
Hudak’s plan also includes promises of eliminating the Liberal “eco fees” levied on items such as batteries, light bulbs, laptops and iPods to pay for environmentally safe disposal. The PCs have also promised to boost health spending by $6 billion over four years (the same amount as the Liberals have promised) allowing couples to share up to $50,000 of their income for tax purposes, and lowering all income taxes by five per cent on the first $75,000 of taxable income.
Andrea Horwath, the first female leader of the NDP, has also been attacking the Liberal tax hikes but, like the Conservatives, isn’t proposing to eliminate them.
It should be noted Horwath was the first to propose removing the provincial portion from home energy bills, a policy later adopted by Hudak.
The NDP is also calling for no new nuclear plants, removing one per cent of the HST per year on gasoline, a cap on compensation for public sector CEOs, cutting emergency room wait times in half and opening 50 new 24-hour “family care clinics.”
Overall, the PCs and NDP have largely adopted spending pledges similar to that of the Liberals, making the differences among the three party platforms less distinctive.w
On the face of things, it doesn’t seem the PC party has deep, wide-spread cuts planned, nor does it seem the NDP has giant tax hikes planned, so the biggest question of this election could very well be this: are you dissatisfied enough with McGuinty to vote for someone else?
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Послушай, Кассий,-возразил молодой Пойндекстер,-ты к нему несправедлив.