Sousa’s budget boasts don’t add up to truth
Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa seems like a pleasant person, but he reminds us of a used-car salesman whenever he’s selling his upcoming budget.
One who doesn’t want you looking under the hood too closely while he’s making his sales pitch.
Last week, Sousa boasted to the Empire Club that his fifth budget on April 27 will demonstrate that, “Ontario is the leanest government with the lowest per capita spending of any province.”
Um, that’s been true for Ontario governments going back decades.
Since Ontario has the largest population of any province, it also has the advantage of economies of scale when delivering public services.
The Bill Davis Progressive Conservative government, for example, made exactly the same boast in 1981-82 as Sousa.
When the Liberals are in power, they always boast about delivering services at the lowest per capita cost of any province.
When they’re out of power, they always blame the party in power for not spending enough on government services. (In fairness, all parties do it.)
What Sousa didn’t say is that the Liberals have more than doubled Ontario’s debt to over $300 billion since coming to power in 2003, which has made Ontario the most indebted sub-sovereign (non-national) borrower in the world.
He didn’t say the Auditor General and Ontario’s Financial Accountability Office have warned the Liberals that they have plunged the province into precarious levels of debt.
Sousa claimed the Liberal scheme to borrow even more money from Ontario taxpayers to subsidize the electricity bills of hydro ratepayers — even though they’re the same people — is “fairer because it doesn’t ask today’s generation alone to pay the entire freight.”
That argument turns generations of fiscally prudent thinking — that you don’t stick future generations with huge bills to pay for today’s services — on its head.
Finally, Sousa repeated, for the umpteenth time, that this year’s budget will be balanced, later adding along with “next year and the year after that.”
Two problems. First, Sousa is promising to balance a budget that won’t come down until after the next Ontario election in 2018.
Second, in 2003, then Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty promised before the election not to raise our taxes.
And we all remember what happened after he won.