Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa must feel like Rodney Dangerfield’s “I got no respect” line. And rightfully so.
Sousa delivered a shameful, electioneering fall economic statement last week in which he threw half a billion dollars to buy the votes of small business owners by reducing their corporate tax rate one percentage point.
They didn’t buy it. Small business owners gave him a big thumbs down. An owner of a downtown Toronto restaurant smacked down Sousa, saying “I think it shows a total lack of understanding and ignorance about small business. He added: “don’t reduce my taxes,” but improve the “business environment.” Bingo.
Other small business owners also weighed-in, complaining of endless red tape programs of questionable value, sky high hydro rates and a weak provincial rental protection system. Small business owners hit the nail on the head and won’t be fooled by Premier Kathleen Wynne vote-buying schemes, basically telling her to take her money, or rather, our money, and shove it.
You have to wonder what else can Wynne dole out to salvage her damaged reputation between now and the June 7, 2017 election. Already we have free education, discounted hydro, free drugs, a huge increase in the minimum wage and all types of other costly gimmicks to get your mind off 14 years of Liberal government incompetence and maladministration. I wouldn’t underestimate Wynne’s ability to squander our money even more.
While Wynne tells us we’re out of the reds and let the good times roll, Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk doesn’t mince words. She accuses the government of playing with the numbers to camouflage the provincial deficit, denouncing the government of “improperly” accounting for $26 billion to make them vanish from the province’s books.
Lysyk adds: “The government created a needlessly complex accounting/financing structure for the electricity rate reduction in order to avoid showing a deficit or an increase in net debt.”
Because Wynne stubbornly disagrees with the person we count on to keep the government’s finances in check, last year she simply ignored the Auditor General’s review and for the first time in Ontario history, simply released the province’s financial statements without the audit opinion – just like a tinpot dictator. Who needs that pesky thing called accountability after all?
Wynne’s popularity has hovered for many months between 12% and 17% with the Ontario population, a feat never achieved by any provincial premier. According to the latest Forum Poll, the Progressive Conservatives are riding high at 45%, while the Liberals and the New Democratic Party are statistically tied at 24% and 22% respectively. It’s fair to say that bribing of the electorate is not working.
It’s no wonder we’ve seen a massive exodus from Liberal MPPs. From cabinet ministers to backbenchers, the ever-growing list of departures past and future continues to swell. Deb Matthews, Liz Sandals, Brad Duguid, Dave Levac, Monte Kwinter, Madeleine Meilleur and Glen Murray. They’ll all have you believe it’s to “spend more time with loved ones,” or some other corny line.
They may not have been the brightest of lights at the best of times, but they’re smart enough to read the tea leaves. Watch for more to flee the sinking ship as the Liberals feel the pressure of a looming election catastrophe.