Saturday, May 4, 2013

By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday, May 4, 2013

Ontario budget great politics. But does it make sense?

Ontario’s new budget may have squared enough political circles to keep Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government alive. But is it a credible economic blueprint for the province? That’s a different question.

The political question will eventually be solved by Andrea Horwath’s New Democrats. On Thursday, the NDP leader carefully hedged on whether her party would support Finance Minister Charles Sousa’s budget, saying she wanted to have “discussions” with Ontarians first.

But suppose for a moment that the NDP ultimately refuses to join Tim Hudak’s Conservatives in bringing down the Liberal minority government.

Suppose for a moment that Thursday’s budget is meant to be a serious document and not just something designed to let the Liberals live another day. What then?

First, note that this is ultimately a restraint budget. Wynne, like her predecessor Dalton McGuinty, has drunk the metaphorical Kool-Aid of the right, insisting that the only way out of the economic slump is to balance Ontario’s budget by 2018.

The Liberals have agreed to new spending demanded by the NDP. But they have also pledged to let overall spending grow on average by less than 1 per cent a year.

Translation: the new NDP spending increases are to be offset by unspecified cuts somewhere else. (Source: Toronto Star)