Pulling the plug may become tempting
By Bruce A Stewart
Up until yesterday I was confident next Tuesday’s Ontario Budget would pass, with enough modifications that the NDP could support the minority governing Liberals.
Then the polls came out. And now I wonder…
All of this is in Premier McGuinty’s hands.
He can choose to add the requested changes by NDP leader Andrea Horvath or not.
She just happens to be the most popular leader in the province right now.
About twice as popular as the others, in fact. Amazing what the notion of a surtax on incomes above $500,000 in a city filled with bank head offices and far too many government agencies with high paid CEOs can do.
Given that Ontario’s over $15 billion in deficit this year, that won’t close the gap. But it will raise money from a place the average voter won’t feel.
Of course, the Liberals previously labelled other NDP proposals for using that money a “spending spree.” Pot, meet kettle.
The Official Opposition PCs, on the other hand, have already said they will vote against the budget regardless.
Why McGuinty might want to play hardball and force the NDP to choose taking nothing or bring his government down is found in the standing of the PCs.
They’re stalled in public opinion. Their leader is seen as the worst choice to lead the province.
Meanwhile the NDP has moved up into second place (the Liberals are in third) and are closing fast on the PCs.
McGuinty could decide to roll the dice. He came up one seat short of a majority in the fall.
He may decide that Ontario wouldn’t turn the keys to Queens Park over to Tim Hudak, the PC leader.
He may also think that when the chips are down the province won’t turn the keys over to Andrea Horvath (NDP).
The regional splits make it borderline that he could eke out a majority by gambling. Then he’d be “safe” for another four years.
There’s a lot of debate in Ontario as to whether the poisoned reputation left for the NDP by Bob Rae in their one and only time in government has dissipated.
My guess? McGuinty will deal, get NDP support, the budget will pass.
But the strategists will be planning furiously all weekend — and there will be voices to take the gamble and trigger an election.
Wednesday April 25, 6 pm Pacific / 7 pm Mountain: Join CBS Radio’s Al Cole and Bruce Stewart in an open forum on community building. We’ll take questions and discuss capitalizing community projects, forming community groups, and rethinking community education. It’s an hour you won’t want to miss. Registration is $9.95 and is done through this link, where you’ll be provided with the phone number to dial in on the 25th. Hope to see you there!
Bruce Stewart is a consultant, educator and philosopher with a passion for public affairs currently located in Toronto. He is well known across the Internet for his blogs on management (Getting Value from IT) and social affairs (Just a Jump to the Left, then a Step to the Right) and for his daily stream of commentary on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.