Ontario Election is Like the Emperor's New Clothes

Ontario Election is Like the Emperor’s New Clothes

Provincial Debt is Ridiculously High

Watching the three front runners in the Ontario election this past month or so has been at times laughable but mostly just maddening. The three of them seem to be trying to trip over themselves in order to throw goodies at we voters, and in the process at least one group, the PC’s, have simultaneously thrown away their ideology. It seems that when votes are at stake, they all treat us like children who are looking for a raise in their allowance. It’s demeaning to informed taxpayers who understand what the real big issue in Ontario is at present. Plus we don’t deserve a raise in our allowance.

Politicians Have their Heads in the Sand
Credit: politicalviolenceataglance.org

That these three “leaders” can stand there with a straight face and state that they’re going to bring in this or that new program (like $12 daycare or free dental plans) speaks volumes about the ability of politicians to bend the truth during election time (ok, all the time). Each of them know that the one big issue that none of them will discuss is the very reason why their plans are so pie in the sky.

None of them, least of all the neophyte Ford, have the intestinal fortitude or worldview necessary to tackle the big issue, so they all act like ostriches sticking their head into a sandpile of new programs, entitlements and tax cuts that do nothing to address the real problem.

The Real Problem Is That Ontario Faces Severe Financial Problems

Yes. Deep Doo Doo.

The province is in debt to the tune of almost $23,000 for every person in Ontario. That’s every baby, every older person, every working person, every permanently disabled person. The quantum is some $310 Billion. To put that in perspective, the per capita figures for BC and AB are about 1/2 of Ontario’s, and only big spending Quebec approaches Ontario’s figure.

“…the first $1,238 that every Ontario taxpayer sends the government pays for no services, roads or salaries…”

The 3 Stooges of Ontario's Election
CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Our debt is the largest debt held by any government that isn’t a country. It’s the largest sub-sovereign debt load on the planet. And we don’t talk about it. The interest on that debt each year is about $12 Bn, thanks to low interest rates, which means that the first $1,238 that every Ontario taxpayer sends the government pays for no services, roads or salaries. What happens when rates go up is anyone’s guess but none of the scenarios are pretty. We had prime bank rates above 20% in my lifetime so the possibility is very real. And our ability to borrow more in times of strife is diminishing rapidly.

So while many Ontarians dream about the goodies their favourite party will be doling out come June 8th, the rest of us will have to keep railing on until the general populace realize and accept that we need austerity, not new and creative ways to take money from one Ontarian and give it to another. Shame on all the leaders, but Doug Ford especially, for not speaking the truth. For not saying what needs to be said, which is that unless we embark on a reasonable program of austerity soon, we won’t have the flexibility down the road to have a reasonable one. It will be a harsh one imposed on us by financial markets that don’t forgive.  Just ask Greece! Above all, you’d expect the conservative to be talking that way, but this man seems so in dire need of creating a political dynasty in the Ford name, that any attraction he had to ideology is totally secondary.

But just because the politicians can’t be adults doesn’t mean we also have to pretend the emperor has a beautiful new suit. It’s up to individuals to tell their MPP, their friends, families and lovers, and to not give up until this file is at least on the table alongside the others, if not on top of the pile.