By: Laura Steiner
The Ontario Progressive Conservative Party (PCPO) have released their platform for the 2018 provincial election. They break it down to five priorities compromising a “People’s Guarantee” that if they aren’t met leader Patrick Brown will not seek a second mandate.
Will it work? Yes. There is a certain pragmatism in this platform. The PC’s will keep promises on tuition grants, and pharmacare for young people. They’re demonstrating a willingness to complement federal efforts on the environment with a carbon tax, and childcare with a benefit that fits what’s already there. On the education front the promise to extend financial literacy classes into high school is a good one. But the promise to stop school closures doesn’t recognize changing demographics in some communities.
The promise to cut income taxes on the middle class will be funded largely from revenue gained from a carbon tax. Whatever consumers pay, will be given back through tax cuts. Missing here is the criteria for how exactly middle class is defined. Is it via income? Living conditions? Without an answer it leaves it up to the Liberals, and NDP to define that. It works because everyone likes a tax cut. Twinned with this is a promise to keep the minimum wage increase, but slow it down; something businesses have wanted. The childcare subsidy will help as costs increase to the minimum wage at daycares.
Another promise is the hydro price decrease. The money will come from a $350 million dividend they’ll give back to the ratepayers. Hydro has been a hot button issue in Ontario for a very long time, any help will be welcomed. But suppose the dividend decreases? How does the party plan to make the shortfall? It’s a little short on specifics for that. Another short on specifics plan is the $1.9 billion mental health initiative. The idea of mental health treated in a similar way to physical health is powerful common sense. In order to practice what is preached there should be sustained funding.
Will it win? No. Because the previous four priorities all rest on a promise of an “Trust, Accountability, and Integrity Act.” The PC’s are suffering from a number of well-documented problems with their nomination process. Allegations of fraud, and ballot-box stuffing have lost them three riding associations. One Hamilton riding looks as if it’s heading to court. If voters can’t trust Brown and the PC’s to properly organize themselves, how can they be trusted to govern Ontario? Bringing trust and accountability into it at best puts him on even footing with the Liberals. At worst, it loses him the election.