The Ontario Liberals are essentially promoting their May 1 budget as their election platform. They’ve been leaking parts of it over the last month like a government that rolls out spending promises before an election.
But how serious was Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne in working with the NDP to get this budget passed? In a minority government situation, it’s up to the ruling party to seek out support from the party that holds the balance of power.
But instead of consulting with the NDP over the budget as Wynne did last year, this year she unilaterally drafted the budget and sent NDP leader Andrea Horwath a letter that told her to either put up or shut up.
“Common sense” attack ad
Wynne also rolled out an unusual pre-budget attack ad against Horwath. In it, she used a Mike Harris “Common Sense Revolution” line:
The last time the NDP were in office, 1 out of 8 of us were on welfare. We just can’t afford to go back there.
Apparently Wynne believes that if the NDP were to form the government, people would quit their jobs in droves so they could take advantage of Ontario’s lavish welfare benefits.
That must be why welfare benefits have been seriously downsized during the Liberals’ 11-year reign, when accounted for inflation.
It’s pretty clear that instead of Wynne doing everything she could to ensure her budget would succeed, she did everything to make it fail.
She didn’t want to avoid an election. She was manufacturing one.
Her long-game election strategy is to appeal to left-leaning and centrist voters and muscle out the NDP to form a majority government. After all, the Liberals only fell short of a majority by one seat last election.
The real Wynne
This, of course, begs the question: who is the real Kathleen Wynne?
When she needed NDP support, she moved leftwards towards the center. Now she is rolling out a Red Book type platform with lots of goodies for the people.
But what happens if she wins a majority? Considering Ontario has a huge deficit which her spending promises will only make worse, she will have only one of two options:
Reverse Dalton McGuinty’s corporate tax cuts and Harris’s income tax cuts for the wealthy to pay for her platform, governing from the center like David Peterson 25 years ago.
Abandon her spending promises and tackle the deficit like the Chretien/Martin Liberals did when they came to power in 1993.
In 2011, McGuinty was utterly desperate to win another term of absolute power. So much so, he tried to buy a majority government using $1.1-billion of taxpayer money to shut down unpopular gas power plants he commissioned.
Wynne’s desire for unfettered power could be equally corrupt. She certainly wouldn’t be the first Liberal leader to campaign from the left in a bid to win all the power. Then govern from the right.