Hudak dumps on municipalities.

This will be known as the Hudak error of the 2011 provincial election.  At this crucial stage of the campaign, you hardly want to shaft your key supporters across Ontario.  Former Conservative Leader John Tory’s gaffe, four years ago, was to promise full funding to parochial schools.  This week, Ontario Conservative Leader Tim Hudak told municipal politicians that he would not promise to keep taking former provincial costs back from property tax.

While Hudak could hardly choose the timing of the Association of Ontario Municipalities meeting, the timing of his announcement will undermine his hoped for campaign momentum.  Conservatives have traditionally dominated the municipal scene in Ontario.  He was causing major problems for his own supporters.

His announcement will not change any municipal Conservative’s voting pattern but some of the enthusiasm for his election will suffer.  It can drop the active support among some municipal Tories down a few notches and that can be felt in many of the close electoral district races.  Races where one or two hundred votes could have changed the district’s outcome will not have the extra push that is needed.

The extreme right will agree with Hudak but the more middle ground Tories will see it as a repeat of one of the major mistakes of the Mike Harris regime.  The Harris Tory government, of which Hudak was part, saw the dumping of provincial costs on municipal ratepayers as an easy out to their budgeting problems.  They failed to recognize that the municipalities are the responsibility of the province and that there was no panacea in transferring costs to them.

The McGuinty government had made a deal with the municipalities that they would—over time—take costs that should properly be paid by the province back under provincial responsibility.  The entire program was priced out at $1.5 Billion.  The government kept its word and to-date some $1 Billion has been transferred.  It is the remaining $0.5 Billion that Hudak said he would not promise to pay.

The earlier Tim Hudak showed that he could be consistent and stick to his script.  Lately he is losing that ability, he appears rattled and he has had to backtrack.  This latest gaffe will not help.


Copyright 2011 © Peter Lowry

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