As the electioneering in Ontario reaches a feverish pitch, Alec Saunders is second-guessing himself, despite his disdain for Tory campaign tactics. It wouldn’t be a Canadian election without the feeling of being forced to choose between a lesser of two or three evils. These choices demand hard questions on economics. Are further tax cuts necessary? Can programs and services continue to operate if tax cuts occur? Do you feel lucky?
Tax cuts are a large part of Ernie Eves campaign. Do Ontarians, who have benefitted from 225 tax cuts in recent years, need more? If the province was in an economic downturn, tax cuts might improve growth, but that isn’t the case here. Are those who would argue further cuts just being greedy? Ernie Eves’ proposed cuts pit Ontario voters against one another: private schooling vs. public schooling, old vs. young, renters vs. owners, municipalities vs. the province, etc. Do we really need these cuts or is Ernie Eves just trying to buy votes?
At what costs would Ontario reap these tax cuts? Ernie Eves is promising 1,000 more police officers, more roads and highways, a $2.6 billion investment for post-secondary education, $28 billion in health care, and a slew of other promises which would cost money. Where is there room for tax cuts? Is it even responsible to promise both tax cuts and increased government spending if Ontario is running a deficit? To paraphrase Alec, applying a little logic leads one to the following conclusions:
- Either Ernie Eves is telling the truth, and there is no deficit but instead a surplus running in the tens of billions, or
- Ernie Eves is lying, either when he says he will provide tax cuts, or when he says he will increase government spending by billions of dollars.
On the one side of the Ontario election, we’re promised further tax cuts, huge increases in spending across the board, and are being greeted with denial that a deficit exists. On the other side, we’re promised no personal tax increases, increases in spending, and an acknowledgement that a deficit exists. You can either believe that we can handle a reduction in government revenue as well as a dramatic increase in government spending, or that we can keep government revenue steady, while at the same time increase spending and pay off a deficit. Either way, it’s a tough call.
Do you feel lucky, voter?