Tories engaging in age-old election year goodies strategy

Nothing brings out the partisan hypocrisy quite like an election year. Following several election year cycles of Progressive Conservative condemnations of the Liberal practice of bribing the electorate with its own money, Premier Doug Ford and his cabal of alleged fiscal restraint cronies who currently dominate Queen’s Park seem bent on resetting the bar to one-up their Liberal predecessors.

The announcement that Ontario would be forgoing a whopping $1 billion in revenue from annual vehicle registration stickers joins the ongoing energy “free lunch” of 24-hour time-of-use rates for Ontario Hydro customers and an as-yet undefined reduction in gas taxes that has some municipal councillors eyeing their annual gas tax transfers nervously. Gas tax transfers are what have allowed municipalities to purchase big ticket items like graders, snowplows and dump trucks with little impact on the property tax levy. The government giveth and the government taketh away—in Progressive Conservative mandates it seems property owners are the ones who end up doing the heaviest lifting, thanks to provincial downloads.

Most municipal budgets are still recovering from the provincial downloads of the ‘90s.

Ontario’s economy is currently running on all cylinders, filling government coffers with unanticipated largesse) and with inflation rising (and now likely to be with us for a while thanks to a certain Russian’s megalomania) the question becomes ‘is it wise to be forgoing the tools of pulling excess money out of the economy that should be going to pay down the deficit while helping to rein in inflationary forces?’

Spreading pre-election goodies among the electorate is a tried and true populist tactic practiced by parties of nearly all stripes, but it is rarely good policy no matter who the frontman is or how they dress it up. It is still early days in this election cycle when it comes to election year treats, so who knows what other carrots will be proffered in hopes of enticing the electorate to bite.

But we all know who ends up paying the load; ask not for whom the tax rolls, it rolls for you.