Justin Trudeau and Erin O’Toole

Photo illiustration by Jackie Conroy

Gather round, children, it’s time for a history lesson.

For more than a decade now, Ontario has been going out of its way to gut its own economy. Having already allowed labour costs to rise through the roof, various provincial Liberal Premiers like Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne doubled down on policies that made Canada’s manufacturing industry unable to compete in global markets with the introduction of green energy programs.

The job losses have been staggering. Rather than address the underlying causes, Ontario moved to paper over its recessions and job losses with government spending. The public workforce expanded, but that didn’t address plummeting GDP. Soon the province had a debt cycle on its hands.

So, what did they do? Did they try to shore up their economic foundations? Nope. They tripled down by dumping truckloads of taxpayer’s money into the very businesses that they made uncompetitive. Today, Ontario is Canada’s best example of a corporate welfare-driven economy, where government loans are never paid back and provincial debt has surpassed $350 billion. It is the world’s largest sub-sovereign borrower.

A normal person would look at this situation, and determine that Ontario economics has failed. Not Justin Trudeau. Nor, it seems, has Erin O’Toole.

The Conservative Party’s plan, released last week, provides no path to balanced budgets beyond a vague pledge to, “balancing the budget over the next decade.” Let’s be honest, when a corporate-lawyer-turned-politician promises something he won’t achieve until after three majority terms, it’s not really a promise.

O’Toole can’t realistically promise a balanced budget because his plan has no chance of achieving a balanced budget. Zero. Rather, it is a guide for the continuation of Ontario-style corporate welfare run amuck. There is no problem that O’Toole thinks can’t be solved through subsidies.

He’s pledging $5 billion for hydrogen and nuclear projects, a billion for electric vehicles, a billion for hydrogen vehicles, and all sorts of blank cheques for the tech sector.

But wait, you say, wasn’t he the guy who was going to get rid of the carbon tax to improve Canada’s competitiveness? 

Nope. That was two years ago when he was running for leader. Now he wants you to personally pay $50/tonne and put industrial emitters on a path to $170/tonne by 2030. 

Why $50 and $170? No explanation. Just pay up. And can we really trust him not to increase the personal carbon tax rate all the way to Trudeau’s target of $170 after he so brazenly tore up his promise to kill the carbon tax?

As an aside for Conservative leadership voters, O’Toole has also flip-flopped on defunding the CBC, now promising only to review the mandate of CBC English Television, CBC News Network and CBC English online news. Why only these three? No explanation. Just keep paying.

As our friend Franco Terrazzano at the Canadian Taxpayers Federation has noted, “The Conservatives don’t have a credible plan to balance the budget and they’re barely paying lip service to reducing the deficit. The (Trudeau) government is spending $500 billion this year, but instead of going after the low-hanging fruit like reversing MP pay raises, the Conservatives are promising to spend billions the government doesn’t have.”

Remember the much-maigned subsidies for going camping promised by the Liberals? O’Toole will do you one better by pledging tax breaks for family vacations. There are also direct subsidies for restaurant meals. I guess that is supposed to distract you from the debt-driven rise in inflation.

Following the rules of Ontario economics, the entire Conservative platform is based on the premise that government can only fix the economy with more spending, more corporate welfare, and more debt.

Don’t just take my word for it, here is the quote from the platform, “The jobs and the economic recovery come first and then the deficit will come down and the emergency spending won’t be needed.”

If that sounds suspiciously familiar, it should. It was Justin Trudeau’s argument for why “the budget will balance itself.”

History has proven Justin Trudeau wrong, and O’Toole will be proven wrong as well. If he was to get the chance.

The difference is that Trudeau never pretended to be a Conservative.

Nathan Anderson is a columnist for the Western Standard

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