Member of Provincial Parliament
Mississauga-Streetsville Provincial Liberal Association
Riding Association and Election Campaign Web Site
The hard truths Tories don't want you to know
During the past year, a few of my friends spoke to me about a chain e-mail they had received. Perhaps you have seen it. It is the one that goes through a laundry list of everything within Ontario that may have gone up in price, and asserts that Premier Dalton McGuinty did it. The e-mail never mentions any benefit to Ontarians, or any of the comprehensive tax reductions implemented by the Province.
Most people said they just deleted it as being idiotic spam. This virtual reality rant, however, keeps getting sent out by increasingly desperate e-mailers. When someone sends it to you, or asks what it is about, point them here.
As an MPP, I have a unique perspective and a front-row seat (not to mention a vote) on the issues that shape Ontario. Perhaps that is why I am so contemptuous of the sheer, outright lie (higher taxes) that is the premise of this chain e-mail. The marketing man I was for nearly 20 years also tells me that no matter how big, and how outrageous the lie might be, in the absence of truth, it will be believed.
The chain e-mail is Orwellian "blackwhite"
So here's the truth. The entire premise of that e-mail - that Ontario's government has increased your total taxes - is one big, fat lie .
Writing in his landmark novel, 1984, George Orwell said, "The key-word here is blackwhite. Like so many Newspeak words, this word has two mutually contradictory meanings. Applied to an opponent, it means the habit of impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts."
Later in the book, Orwell writes of blackwhite, which is what the chain e-mail is all about, "To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed..."
Here is what our Premier has done for Ontario in the past seven years
So let's recap. The chain e-mail asserts that a lie (your taxes are higher) is truth. Warning: you may get upset at the Ontario Conservatives for lying to you. Now let's take it apart.
- Premier McGuinty made a "no tax increase" pledge in the 2003 election
- True. Promise made, promise kept. Your total tax "burden" is less now than it was in 2003. Taxes have changed: many things have gone down. Some things have gone up. The net result is that some 93 percent of Ontarians pay less tax now than they did when they voted Ontario's government into office. Lower taxes are true whether you are an individual or a small, medium or large business. Ontario is now the low-tax jurisdiction among the Great Lakes states region.
- License fees for cars, boats, fishing and hunting
- Gee. Fees keep pace with expenses, and taxpayers do not subsidize owners of vehicles or boats, or hunters and anglers. Ontarians have had no problem with the notion of people paying for what they consume.
- Ontario Eco fees and hazardous waste
- While falsely calling the program to divert hazardous waste to recycling a "tax," the Ontario Conservatives trash an initiative they themselves conceived while in government, and advocate that 26,000 tonnes of hazardous waste each year should be buried in Ontario landfills. The fees are used by industry to run the program - not one cent goes to the Province.
- Ontario introduced the health care premium
- This is rich from a Conservative Party that, in government from 1995-2003 closed 28 hospitals, fired 8,000 nurses, shut down access to professions, closed beds, and did its very best to cause Ontarians to lose confidence in public health care. They said then (and say today of public health care) that "it is just not sustainable." In their view, paying ten to twenty times your Ontario health care premium to a private, U.S.-style Health Management Organization (HMO) for something you have to buy is not taxation, while paying a government you elect less than ten percent of what Americans pay for health care service that is inferior to Ontario is taxation. Ontario has used the $3.5 billion in annual premiums from the health care premium to build a system ready for the time that the big baby boomer demographic moves into its senior years. People 45+ need what the health care system now has. Some 108 Ontario hospitals, including all three Peel Region hospitals plus Oakville-Trafalgar have major capital projects complete, in progress or firmly scheduled. The nurses the Conservatives fired have been rehired or replaced. Doctor shortages and wait times are all down. The system is working. The Conservatives used to say they'd rip this $3.5 billion out of your health care system just as you, your parents or your grandparents are going to need it desperately. Now they have flip-flopped, and pledge to keep the premium they themselves railed against. Are they going to close beds, shut hospitals, fire nurses, doctors and other staff to fill in the staggering $10 billion un-costed hole in their platform? Or they are going to run another ruinous structural deficit like the $4.6 billion one they lied about in 2003? Just how stupid do the Conservatives think you are?
- Price of lottery tickets and other OLG issues
- If people want to buy tickets that cost two bucks, or five bucks, as opposed to cheaper tickets with lower prices and smaller payouts, and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) responds by withdrawing products people are not buying, this is taxation?! Oh please. Now let's look at the truth. Buying lottery tickets has accurately been described as "voluntary taxation." Net of its expenses and prize payouts, lottery money benefits seniors organizations, community groups, sports and arts organizations in our communities and the list goes on and on. I guess the Tories will harken back to the "good old days" when shady characters sold sweepstakes tickets in the parking lot behind the local bar. And no community groups in Ontario got a dime. The same applies to internet gaming. The Tories have no objection to Ontarians shipping an estimated $400 million out of Ontario annually. But if the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation wants to make the games fair, ensure that Ontario players have a decent statistical chance of winning, and use the profits here in Ontario instead of buying some offshore high-tech mogul a new yacht, that does not square with Conservative logic. Remember, they are ones making this stuff up.
- Disposal taxes and fees on tires and electronics
- So let's get this straight. Conservatives have a core belief that the costs of disposing of your old vacuum tube TV and computer monitor and other electronic components, or of your car tires are the responsibility of the generation of your children and grandchildren. The Ontario Conservatives believe whoever wants to simply bury the cadmium, mercury, lead and other environmental nasties in landfills, or ship them abroad to contaminate someplace else can do so freely. In today's Ontario, if you make it or sell it, you take it back. If you buy it, you pay the cost of both owning it and of disposing of it. The Conservatives believe that even if you never buy or use consumer electronics or car tires, those who do buy and consume them can stick you with their disposal cost through your taxes. Ontarians say "no way" to that nonsense. And guess who first introduced the so-called "Eco fees" in the first place? Yes, that would be the Ontario Conservative government when Tim Hudak sat in cabinet.
- The Harmonized Sales Tax in Ontario
- The first outright lie is that the HST is "the largest tax on the province ever." The truth, something Conservatives avoid at all costs on taxation, is that the HST is a $4.5 billion tax cut! The HST is actually the GST. Same rules, same forms, same everything. The Tim Hudak "Two-Tax Tories" are out of step with such true-blue Tory luminaries as Stephen Harper, Mike Harris, Jim Flaherty and John Tory, plus every business group and economist of any repute, and the rest of the industrialized world in continuing to advocate for the existence of an expensive, outdated, complex, unfair, unfixable, brain-dead sales tax like the 50-year-old Provincial Sales Tax (PST). The PST was repealed, eliminated, rescinded, abolished on June 30, 2010. Hello Tories! Bad tax gone forever. Efficient tax implemented. Now we are like the 140 or so countries in the world who administer sales tax with a value-added tax that cuts retail prices, reduces business costs, and only taxes goods and services once instead of the old PST-style compounded taxation. The e-mail falsely asserts that the HST provides the province with "an additional $3 billion a year." The truth is that it leaves $4.5 billion in tax-upon-tax uncollected. That amount stays in the economy; in your pocket. It gets Ontarians working. It's all about jobs, and if you click this link, you can read the full study by Dr. Jack Mintz that documents how Ontario stands to gain 591,000 net new jobs; $47 billion in net new investment and a rise in real incomes of 8.8 percent in the next ten years. The Tories do not want you reading that document. The number of reference sources offered by the e-mail: none. Read the article Fourteen Irrefutable Facts About the HST. The difference is stark: Ontario wants the jobs. The Tories aid they wanted the expensive and idiotic old PST back. Then in their platform, they flip-flopped again, and said they'd keep it. You just can't trust Conservatives with money. It is as simple as that.
- Smart meters, renewable energy and electricity
- How much electricity-generating capacity did the Mike Harris government build? Try none. How about a blackout like the summer of 2003? These days, that's far less likely to occur because Dalton McGuinty and the Government of Ontario have actually built electricity generation capacity. In renewable energy, Ontario has literally gone from worst to first in North America. World-leader Samsung of Korea liked what it saw, and invested the $7 billion that could have gone anywhere else in North America into Ontario. The rest of the world wants to buy renewable energy technology, and now Ontario has it to sell. The Tories don't think those high-value jobs ought to come to Ontario. Dalton McGuinty does. So do the students in our universities who study leading edge energy technology here. Now they will be able to work in Ontario, start companies in Ontario and relocate companies to Ontario. Dalton McGuinty and the Government of Ontario want to give you a break on the price of electricity if you use it after peak hours. Tim Hudak and the two-tax Tories want to stick you with the same high electricity price no matter when you flip a light switch, or run the dishwasher or dryer. Conservative energy policy is about burning dirty coal, which kills people. Find out about the Green Energy Act by clicking here.
- E-Health and electronic health care records
- The Hudak Tories want to keep your health care records scattered throughout the offices of everybody you deal with, and probably on paper. The rest of the world is trying to get health care records on-line. So is Ontario. In fact, the proprietary network to carry the data is up and running, and so is the diabetes registry. E-Health did go wrong, and the Ontario Auditor General investigated it. However, the Auditor General's Report substantiated exactly none of the allegations in the e-mail. By the way, the Tories do not want you to read the Auditor General's report either. No payouts to friends and relatives. It is out-and-out Conservative fiction. Let's look at the four aspects of the implementation of e-Health: the network was deployed on time; the applications were not. It is in this area that the project went wrong; data conversion presupposes the existence of the applications that use the data; and the migration of doctors and other users from their present systems to eHealth's network and applications also assumes the network and applications are operating. In IT projects, good process is everything, and in eHealth, the organization's processes were substandard, sometimes bad. Even with good process, IT projects in every sector, including the private sector, seldom meet budgets and delivery dates. Bad process guarantees failure sooner rather than later. But the Conservatives don't believe in learning your lessons, fixing things and going forward. They believe in raw dogma. Fixing things is not part of their rigid and unbending ideology. Besides, why would Conservatives ever want to improve or computerize something they plan to wreck or sell if they gain power?
- Closing hospital facilities in the Niagara area
- The Tories say out of one side of their mouth that they would not change anything about the way health care resources are deployed, and out the other side of their truth-challenged mouths, they plan to rip at least $3.5 billion out of health care in Ontario by repealing the health care premium. Oh yeah, they flip-flopped on that, if you believe them, which most Ontarians don't. The fact is that as most communities in Ontario look at shrinking populations, Ontario is shifting some of the resources from shrinking communities to places, such as the GTA, Ottawa, Kitchener-Waterloo and London, where the population is growing rapidly. In fact, Mississauga, Brampton, York Region, Durham Region, Halton Region and the Simcoe area are all getting more money and more facilities. Why didn't that e-mail even try to mention this? Some 108 of Ontario's hospitals have capital projects completed, in progress or planned since 2003. And Tim Hudak and the Tories? The Conservatives closed 28 hospitals, built nothing, and voted against every single improvement in Ontario health care since 2003.
- Budget deficit and Ontario's prosperity
- Well, if you choose to tell a lie, as that e-mail does, you might as well make it a big fat, blue Tory one. Ontario is not merely the fastest-growing province in Canada right now. Ontario is not merely the fastest-growing province or state in North America right now. Ontario is not merely the fastest-growing region (or country) in the G-8 or G-20 right now. Ontario is actually the fastest-growing place in the entire industrialized world right now. Exactly how does that make Ontario "one of the poorest provinces in Canada?" Ontario aided the province's auto industry which employs some 600,000 people in the province over the objection of the Conservatives! We were the only sub-national (i.e. not a country) jurisdiction to do so. The province borrowed money and ran a deficit to do it. Corporate tax revenues during the recession dropped by half! General Motors may be sardonically called "government motors" in the USA, but in Canada, they have repaid all of their loans and guarantees in full, five years ahead of schedule. Chrysler similarly discharged all its obligations to the taxpayer ahead of schedule. Ford borrowed or asked for nothing. Neither did Honda or Toyota. In return, all of the carmakers are building their state-of-the-art manufacturing plants and vehicles in the number-one automaking jurisdiction in North America - Ontario! And the Ontario budget deficit is substantially less than estimated just this spring. The Tories felt they had to sell (or was it give away) Highway 407 to balance their budget during boom times in the late 1990s. Dalton McGuinty's government balanced the budget three years running, and used the surpluses to pay down debt when times were good and kick-start municipal infrastructure improvements all across Ontario. Oh, by the way, the Conservatives voted against that too.
- Dalton McGuinty's salary and those of MPPs
- The Premier, all MPPs and the entire public service have had their salaries frozen, not raised. The Premier and Cabinet Ministers earn substantially less than the senior civil servants (also frozen) who advise them, and less than middle-level managers in most industries and professions. MPPs earn something like what the principal of an elementary school earns.
- Taxes on hydro, liquor and wine
- In implementing the Ontario Harmonized Sales Tax, the LCBO had to reconcile a complex regime of sales taxes on different products at different rates, and implement just one sales tax of eight percent. For example, domestic VQA wines were subject to a 6.1 percent sales tax while similar foreign wines were taxed at 16.1 percent. The LCBO had two mandates: keep prices constant for the consumer; and change product price margins such that revenue stayed constant at LCBO. In otherwords, revenue-neutral and price-neutral in adopting the HST. And so it is today. However, as vendors to the LCBO realize savings in their businesses from the lower business costs due to the HST, they will be required to flow through these lower costs to the LCBO, which will pass them through to you as lower prices. It won't make a big difference, but you'll get a little break on your favourite bottle of grog as time passes. The rest of it is the usual Conservative dogma and hysterical nonsense.
- What Dalton McGuinty will get when he retires
- No Ontario MPP gets a pension. Federal Tories, and other federal MPs qualify for a pension after six years. Dalton McGuinty will not get a pension from the taxpayer. No Ontario MPP qualifies for a pension from the taxpayer. Neither the current, nor any future Premier of Ontario receives benefits after leaving office. Any assertion to the contrary is an outright lie, just like the rest of the allegations in this Tory e-mail.
- I hope this gets passed around the province of Ontario...
- So do thinking Ontarians, who will know enough to never, never vote for the Conservatives in 2011 or ever again. Imagine, not one Conservative MPP ever had the guts, the integrity or the intestinal fortitude to vote in favour of improving health care; extending full-day kindergarten to Ontario's kids; building renewable energy; saving Ontario's auto industry; stopping the burning of dirty coal to generate electricity; establishing the Ontario Green Belt to preserve river headwaters and prime farmland; or cutting your taxes with the comprehensive tax reforms implemented this year.
- Last word on the HST, taxes and Ontario in general
- By the time you have bought all the things and all the services you normally buy, and paid all the bills you normally pay, and filed your taxes and collected your refunds, tax credits and other refunds, there will be more money in your pocket for about 93 percent of Ontarians. With the implementation of the HST, some 83 percent of the things you normally buy will not change in price, or will come down in price. Your taxes are lower. Your schools are at peace. More of your sons and daughters, grandchildren and neighbours are finishing secondary school than ever before. Your hospitals are in better shape. If you are a baby-boomer, those hospitals will be ready for you, because the first of you turns 65 in 2011. Your city air, water and fields are cleaner. Your roads are repaired. Your electricity generation and transmission system are in proper working order, and getting better. It is not an economic crime in today's Ontario to be young, or old, sick or in school, to have a disability or even to be down on your luck. Honest, hard-working problem-solvers look after your interests at Queen's Park. They are called Liberals. Their leader is Dalton McGuinty.