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Past Consensus News, Statements, et al.

An ongoing series of informational entries


8 November 2018

With four months and a bit under his belt, Ontario's new premier Doug Ford and his PC government have been busy. Busy slashing programmes started by their nemesis, the Ontario Liberals. Ford has yet to launch any significant initiatives other $1 beer pricing.

Ford's first moves are prescient - they fall squarely into what Consensus Ontario predicts for a political system based on party politics. Once in government the party will scrap as much of their predecessor's work as possible. While some of those programmes deservedly needed to be ended, Consensus Ontario thinks the wiser way to proceed is to complete the full in-depth financial review of all government spending, programme by programme, to see how much dead wood is in there, available for chopping. It likely doesn't exceed 10% of total spending, but 10% will be a step in the right direction to do what we call for - at least balancing the budget within the first term of government...leaving things no worse than you found them.

Brad Harness




16 November 2018

Yesterday's fall economic statement - something that has evolved over the past 4-5 years at Queen’s Park - is not a budget. It lays out nothing official and will see nothing voted on in terms of spending measures or tax changes. It’s merely an opportunity for the Ford government to point fingers and play up to its Ford Nation supporters. It is political He said, She said.

The only substantive information we gleaned was that the government’s annual budgetary deficit is close to $15-billion, something we already knew. So far - after his first six months - new premier Doug Ford has managed to save about $500-million by cancelling planned spending, especially on small things. That is a pittance on a budget of $160-billion. Hiring freezes, pay raise freezes.

I would suspect that the new spending will be very little when we get to the annual (spring) budget in late winter 2019 if they are serious about eliminating the deficit, something Finance Minister Vic Fedeli said is their some point in the future.

The economic statement also reiterated an earlier stated low-income tax cut. Those working full-time on minimum wage ($14 per hour) will not be paying any provincial income tax. We are not sure if that applies to the 2018 tax year or 2019.

That left the only other major announcement being a reversal of parts of the Liberal governments admittedly silly plans for putting a lid on corruption. They had banned candidates, MPPs, and cabinet ministers from attending fund-raising events. They also eliminated business and union donations to political parties, riding associations and candidates - sources of scarce funding for minor political parties and their candidates.

But they gave themselves, the PCs, NDP and Greens, your tax dollars in a new dollars per vote subsidy paid annually. Ford said this will be phased out - but only after the next provincial election. Right! How convenient. Each year this taxpayer-funded subsidy amounts to $588,000 for the Greens, $2.9-million for the NDP, $3.8-million for the PCs, and $4.4-million for the Liberals. Nothing for the 24 other provincial parties and all Independent candidates.

He also did not mention any changes to the campaign reimbursements the three big parties give themselves and their candidates and riding associations from our tax dollars. He never mentioned that the 24 other provincial parties and all Independent candidates get no campaign reimbursements from taxpayers.

Hardly a level playing field, hardly in the best interests of democracy here in Ontario The Good.

Just as the shine has come off the Justin Trudeau apple, it will also fade for the Doug Ford apple, and in a year or so, voters will be scratching their heads wondering why they wasted their votes on yet another turn of one of the Big Three parties in power at Queen’s Park. These parties are old, tired, filled with backroom hacks who keep things going in the wrong direction repeatedly. If only voters would learn and remember they have better options at election time!

Brad Harness