Jun 18, 2012
Peter Shurman, MPP
Ontario PC Finance Critic
June 18, 2012
For the past few days, there has been much talk in the news media concerning our apparent “ganging up” with the NDP to defeat certain provisions of the Ontario Liberal budget. It has been suggested that the Progressive Conservatives somehow abandoned our principles on signature issues – such as privatization and fixing a broken public sector salary arbitration system – in order to score “political points”. This is false.
Consider the possibility that the NDP and ourselves, who are poles apart philosophically, could occasionally both vote against the same things – but for entirely different reasons. In the case of privatizing government services, the NDP are simply against the very concept. In our case, the Ontario PC Caucus is heartily in favour of getting the government out of businesses it has no business being in. But in this instance the Liberals watered down their own commitment to privatization and created mechanisms to add red tape and bureaucracy for existing businesses and job creators, so we voted against these measures. The NDP did too, but again, for completely different reasons.
The same applies to public sector salary arbitration reforms that the Liberals weakened in the Budget Bill. They failed to consider an employer’s ability to pay and local economic conditions as well as the impact of these settlements on property taxpayers. Ontario’s arbitration system is broken. We have put forward numerous ideas on how to fix the system. We even tabled legislation for this purpose, only to be ignored by the government. The NDP, of course, are seemingly opposed to any labour law reform, because the current system gives unions more than generous settlements. Here again, the PC and NDP votes coincide, but once more for different reasons.
Further, assertions emerging late last week that we had adopted a position contrary to our normal stance on the Endangered Species Act are highly improbable, as the issue had not even come to a vote until mid-day Monday. We are all at a loss to explain media conjecture on that one.
Either way, rest assured that as the Liberal-NDP budget square-dance continues, Tim Hudak and the Ontario PC Caucus remain committed to reducing the size and cost of government and kick-starting private sector job creation. We won’t vote to support a budget that does neither, on the basis of clear principles we have declared and followed from the outset.
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