So far, our provincial election campaign is a tiring affair already. The Conservative candidate, and presumptive premier, has been flinging outrage and empty slogans into the air. One of the more bizarre, and distressing pronouncements is that, “I don’t govern through the government”. Wow! It sounds like the radical right south of the border who want to gut their institutions. Has no one told Doug Ford that there is no “I” in government? Does he realize we still have a parliamentary democracy made up of elected representatives? – the “people” he is supposed to be listening to?
His idea to open a “big chunk” of the greenbelt to development revealed not only that he was woefully uninformed about this critical issue but also politically out of touch with the popular consensus. The fact that he modestly credited the idea to the “biggest developers in the country” marks him as a loose cannon and an easy mark for powerful lobbyists. Worse, his party establishment tried, initially, to back this off-the-cuff proposal showing that it is a hostage to his rambling ideas, not unlike a certain circus situation elsewhere.
Never mind that “opening” the greenbelt would accomplish nothing. A whole network of water and sewage pipes would have to be built first. And that would have to be paid for by you through your property tax, dear reader, as a resident of your municipality, long before any “affordable” housing was built in those pristine fields far from any amenities. The money is theoretically recovered later through development charges and the property taxes of new residents.
For decades Innisfil has wanted to build an industrial park west of hwy 400. An original plan proposed including hundreds of new houses and thousands of new residents to justify putting in the necessary pipes. The Places to Grow plan eliminated that sprawl option. The 50 or so businesses that would occupy an industrial park alone could not support the millions of dollars required to install services. Innisfil then approached developers about having them chip in up-front for the cost of services but they declined. So, an Innisfil industrial park remains a ‘pipe’ dream.
So, we’re back to raging at Ontario Hydro. Fire the bums! Replace the Board! Sure. But what’s the policy principle? Why not tackle all corporate greed? What’s good for Ontario Hydro is, I assume, good for the rest of them. We’re long on anger, short on answers.
Is it a good idea to cancel all future generating contracts? Will eliminating time-of-use metering help? Should we go all-in on renewable energy, or conservation? Should Hydro One be brought back into public ownership?
No one proposes lowering your taxes, but the conservative mantra is to lower corporate tax rate to create jobs. How’s that working? Canadian banks, for example, are flush with cash but what are they doing with it? “… the most likely use for the Big Six’s estimated combined $14 billion in excess capital will be share buybacks to appease investors disappointed with the performance of Canadian bank stocks versus their U.S. peers.” (Will Big 6 Banks Flush with Cash Buy US Banks?, April 16, 2018) So far, personal income tax provides 21.8% of provincial revenue while less than half of that, 10.6%, comes from corporations (2017).
If people are angry, it’s with the financial and political imbalance of power. People are fed up with corporations telling us what taxes they will pay (the least), what wages they will pay (the minimum), and where they will locate businesses (where governments buckle under). “People” have a right to organize their societies as they wish through their democratic governments. And we have some tough decisions to make.