First Prov. Election Post

Posted: September 8, 2011 in Election, politics
Tags: , ,

Should we be happy or disappointed that Canadian politics are not as interesting as U.S. politics.  The last federal election was the most interesting in memory, but still doesn’t rival the circus that is regularly seen in the States.  Probably a good thing.

I want to approach this Ontario Provincial election with a number of questions.  I’m hoping that we are going to see real policies and plans rather than posturing and mudslinging.

Yesterday we had McGuinty propose a $10 000 tax credit to encourage employers to hire new immigrants.  Personally, even as a liberal, I think that is ill-advised overkill.  Providing some sort of incentive to encourage the integration of new Canadians is a good idea, and especially if it will help some of the immigrant doctors, MBAs or engineers to get accredited and established.  (I don’t think there are too many job openings in those areas, -and we know all about the doctor shortage.)  But a broad tax credit that may actually give immigrants an unfair advantage over other Ontarians looking for employment is just not a good idea.  Hudak, of course, jumped on this right away.  The thing is, can you conceive of any position that McGuinty could possibly suggest that wouldn’t cause Hudak to pounce?  We’re back to knee jerk politics for the sake of posturing.  Hudak, it seems, proposed a very similar bill over a year ago.  His also had a component that would encourage new Ontarians to learn English, which I think is an excellent idea.  But it also had tax incentives for hiring.  This makes his criticism of McGuinty hypocritical.

McGuinty, not to be outdone in knee-jerk politics, counters with an accusation that the Ontario PC Party is Canada’s Tea Party.  While this may or may not be true, it seems a little early in the campaign to play that card, especially without providing a clear justification.

That, to me, is the first important question of the election.  Are the Progressive Conservatives truly progressive?  Are there moderate conservatives in this party, with reasonable control over policy, or has more extremist, right wing, neo-conservative beliefs taken over the party? Is the “Tea Party” label fair?

Well, first of all let’s look at what the Tea Party label actually implies.  To my mind there are two separate issues.  One has to do with tactics and the other has to do with actual policy.

The tactics of the far right, as we’re seeing in the U.S., involves non compromise and a generous helping of fear mongering.  It involves black and white distinctions, with little tolerance for middle ground.  It is anti-intellectual and often appeals to the beliefs of the religious right (which has its own fear mongering).

The policies of the far right involve smaller government, catering to and coddling big business, cutting social services and a social conservatism that is opposed to such things as abortion, gay rights and women’s rights.  There is such a thing as moderate conservatism that promotes fiscal responsibility and economic balance.  The far right does not speak that language.

So, is Tim Hudak a Mike Harris clone?  Or is he even farther to the right?  Or are the accusation that he is going to trash our health care and education systems just Liberal mudslinging, attempting to stereotype the PCs as extremists?  Based on a recent Huffington Post article, “Ontario Election: Is Tory Leader Tim Hudak A Moderate Or Mike Harris Clone?” , one is tempted to give him the benefit of the doubt as a more moderate conservative.  But it bears close scrutiny and the proof will be in the pudding.

Similarly, I’m hoping that the Liberals do not put opportunism ahead of policy, setting up a Tea Party straw dog rather than battling the reality.

However, given all of that, I’m sure there will still be more Ontarians tuned in to Obama’s speech tonight than will be watching any news on the the Ontario election.

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