The Devil They Know
Let me get this straight. Kathleen Wynne is going to cut my Hydro bill by 25 per cent next month. Correct? Not so fast. First of all, from the beginning of the year, she has increased my Hydro bill by 70 per cent even though we do all the right things, like not using appliances in peak periods and keeping the lights off until dusk. So, when this so called decrease comes in, my increase in hydro costs over the past year will only be about 40 per cent. Well, yippee you know what! It’s like McDonald’s saying they are going to double the price of their hamburgers but gee, be McHappy, because we are going to give you a 25 per cent discount!
It gets worse. Common sense says that a 25 per cent decrease in hydro costs can mean only one of two things. Either, we are currently paying more than the actual cost of hydro, so they can afford a 25 per cent cut, or the discount is nothing more than an election goodie and hydro rates will soar after the next election to pay for it. Leaked Government documents suggest the latter. Either way, it is a mess that is putting real pressure on the average household and causing havoc with our economy, as industries flee the province like rats leaving a sinking ship.
With less than a year to go before Ontario voters go to the polls, we can expect a barrage of promises and goodies from the Wynne government. It should come as no surprise. All governments do that. But we should not be fooled. The Wynne government and the McGuinty government before it, (in which Kathleen Wynne was a key player) have moved Ontario from one of the most envied jurisdictions in Canada to a have-not province.
Ontario’s net debt has almost tripled since the Liberals came to power in this province. In 2003 the net debt for Ontario was about $110 billion. Today the provincial debt is $312 billion. That translates to a $22,000 debt for every man, woman and child in Ontario. It also gives our province the dubious distinction of having the largest debt of any sub-national government in the world. And to add insult to injury, our net debt is projected to grow to $336 billion by 2019-20. The interest on our debt alone, is staggering.
To me, there is no measurement by which the Wynne Government can be seen to be acting in the best interests of Ontario. They are spending us into oblivion. And yet, paradoxically, I continue to believe there is a real chance they will be re-elected in 2018.
With less than a year to go before the election, no real alternative to the current government has presented itself. Currently, the Conservatives have reaped the benefits of a general dislike of Kathleen Wynne, capturing by-elections in ridings they have not held for decades. But that will not last and that is not enough to win a general election. Liberals will have the goodies to spread and a recent poll has shown that a significant number of people have been taken in by the 25 per cent decrease in hydro bills.
Patrick Brown and his Ontario Progressive Conservatives cannot just sit around and hope that the Wynne government will simply defeat itself. Liberals have proven more than once that they can win elections, even when the chips are down. They did that in the last election, when most people thought Tim Hudak was a shoe-in. Without any credible alternative, they could do it again.
Perhaps Patrick Brown does not want to peak too early, but it is high time that the people of Ontario find out what he actually stands for. In an election cycle, a year is not a long time. What plans do the Conservatives have to return Ontario to an economic leader in Canada? How will they fix Hydro? What will they do to deal with the crumbling infrastructure in this province that has driven industry away? How will they reduce a debt that at its growing rate, will choke future generations?
These are the questions that need to be answered soon. People need to see a light at the end of the tunnel. They need to see an election platform they can believe in and support and they need to see a leader who can deliver. Failing that, it could well come down to the devil they know, and that would be a tragedy.
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