Ontario New Democratic Party leader Andrea Horwath speaks to media on Monday April 23, 2012. She said she would not bring down the Ontario minority government on the budget vote on April 24.
Credits: MICHAEL PEAKE/QMI AGENCY
That's the lesson Premier Dalton McGuinty should take from the bizarre abstention by Andrea Horwath and the New Democrats on the budget bill.
After weeks of haggling and a final weekend of deal-making, McGuinty and Horwath were dizzy and fuzzy and kissy-faced Monday, telling us they'd worked out a plan to get the budget passed.
I'm not sure what happened between those heady moments of bliss on Monday and Tuesday's reality check. In a stunning move, New Democrats showed up for a critical budget vote--then they didn't vote.
They said they were standing up for Ontarians--then they didn't.
What's that all about?
The budget bill is still far from law. It has to pass more votes in the legislature and clause-by-clause hearings at committee. Will Horwath try to extract more concessions from McGuinty at every stage?
Reporters asked her about that.
"What I am saying is the premier knows very well that there are a lot of improvements that need to be made to the budget," she responded. "We put a number of those on the table."
Look, working together is one thing. Armtwisting for more tax hikes or lavish spending is quite another.
Look at what she managed to squeeze out so far. There will be more money for subsidies to daycare. Hello? The government is already committed to funding full-day kindergarten, at an estimated cost of $1.5 billion. Now we're subsidizing daycare?
Someone should tell those self-entitled parents who expect government to pick up the tab for their tots that perhaps they could kick in some of their own money to pay for babysitting.
Or, here's a thought: If you can't afford kids, please don't have them on my dime.
What are we, the People's Republic of Ontario-stan, where uniformed toddlers sit around on their government-issued potties getting toilet-trained?
Meanwhile, other programs are getting short-changed. What else is Horwath going to demand from us?
McGuinty, meanwhile, gets to label the taxon-the-rich an "NDP tax"--while pocketing a cool half-billion in cash to pay down the debt on his ruinous overspending.
Not that I'm buying some of the over-the-top criticisms of the 2% tax increase on those who make more than $500,000.
One argument for not taxing the rich is that these folk are the "wealth creators." What rubbish! Wealth creators are average middle-class folk who work the line at GM, save up, buy themselves houses and fill those homes with consumer goods--which were hopefully not made in China. They shop local, eat local and boost the local economy.
The backbone of our economy is small business-- little people who work every hour they can and with a bit of luck employ a couple of workers. They spend their money at home. If they get a vacation at all, it's camping in Algonquin Park. And they aren't making more than $500,000. High flyers, meanwhile, vacation in posh overseas resorts and shop at Gucci, Prada and Louis Vuitton.
Another bizarre argument against the tax is that you'll never see that money because rich people are good at "tax avoidance"--which isn't quite calling them scam artists, but certainly doesn't paint a picture of "wealth creators" as model citizens.
How much NDP blackmail can one province afford? Not much more. Horwath shouldn't push her luck too far, or voters will push back.