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politics

What an NDP Win Would Mean for Toronto

Here's what the future might hold for our city if Andrea Horwath and the NDP form the next provincial government.

Photo courtesy of the Ontario NDP.

It’s been an interesting election campaign so far, not least because of the spectacle of NDP leader Andrea Horwath and Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne weaving from left to right like drunk boxers, while Tim Hudak smirks grimly from the sidelines hoping for a mutual knockout. Last week, the NDP released their “Plan That Makes Sense” (presumably crafted by the Marketing Team With Little Imagination), the contents of which confirm that this party is currently wrestling with its own split personality.

Although the document is sprinkled with ideas and language from both the Liberal and PC platforms, it doesn’t do much to challenge the old trope of NDP-ers as socialist spendthrifts. So if they formed a government, what would that mean for Toronto?

Transit

Transit is one of the few policy areas where the NDP specifically targets Hogtown, and they’ve cut and pasted their plan directly from the very Liberal budget they shot down. It features an overall transit and infrastructure expenditure of $29 billion over 10 years, with a healthy chunk designated for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. Priorities would include “the Downtown Relief Line, Scarborough transit, Clean Trains Now on the air-rail link, all-day two-way GO train service to Kitchener-Waterloo, and year-round daily GO train service to St. Catharines and Niagara.” (It’s perhaps a measure of our Toronto-centricity that there’s no mention of where the two-way service to these cities would originate.)

These initiatives go largely unaccounted for in the costing chart provided, evidently because the NDP assume that if the Liberals would be able pay for such things from existing revenue streams, they would too. In fact, it’s unlikely that either of them could make that work.


“Make Life More Affordable”

Their term, not ours. While the commitments that fall under this header would indeed make life more affordable for the average voter, they would also make for a far costlier provincial budget.

The NDP promise to remove the provincial portion of the HST from home hydro bills, a logistically challenging vote-buying tactic previously advocated by the PCs. Back in 2011, when the concept was first proposed, environmental commissioner Gord Miller condemned it (and other hydro price-reduction initiatives) as a idea that sent the wrong signals about the importance of energy conservation.

The platform commits to reducing auto insurance rates by 15 per cent. This echoes a Liberal promise from 2013 that has yet to be fulfilled (in part because of objections from insurers that the reduction in premiums would need to be balanced out by a reduction in costs).

“Prevent unfair price increases for natural gas consumers.” Who gets to decide what’s unfair? For all the handwringing over the Orange losing touch with their Socialist roots, proposals like this one show they can still mount the barricades when they want to.

“Help families install solar panels and make energy efficient retrofits … this revolving fund would provide homeowners with loans for energy efficient retrofits and the installation of solar panels, which are paid back through energy savings—helping families consume less energy, save money, and help the environment.” Loans that get repaid via energy savings look like a good idea—but for now we’ll have to suspend judgment, as the devil is often in the details.


Health and Social Programs

Not surprisingly, the NDP are making a lot of promises in this area. They would, for example,

  • provide “… critical relief funding to help childcare providers and parents in our first year in government” and “ongoing funding to prevent the closure of childcare centres in 18 communities,”
  • freeze post-secondary tuition fees and make student loans interest-free, and
  • expand dental benefits to 100,000 children from low-income households.

When it comes to the health portfolio, which already accounts for the lion’s share of the provincial budget, the NDP are particularly ambitious. They would

  • open new 24-hour family health clinics,
  • hire more nurse practitioners to treat and discharge patients in ERs,
  • eliminate the waitlists for acute long-term care beds,
  • eliminate wait times for seniors with a five-day home-care guarantee, and
  • support families caring for the ill or elderly with a Caregiver Tax Credit.

A big chunk of the money needed for these proposed programs is expected to come from an increase in corporate taxes–but, as large corporations have a tendency to change behaviours in order to reduce taxes (i.e., booking profits in other provinces), it’s possible such an increase might not actually produce the anticipated revenue. They’re also assuming $600 million will be saved by way of a new “Minister of Savings and Accountability,” who will presumably be tasked with looking under the same kinds of seat cushions that turned up surprisingly little cash for Rob Ford when he undertook a similar exercise in Toronto.

It’s hard to argue with helping kids, seniors, and the economically disadvantaged. But, while the NDP platform makes clear that we’d all get to do a lot of dancing, it, like the ones developed by the Grits and even the Tories, fails to outline a realistic plan for paying the piper.


  What a Green Win Would Mean for Toronto   What a Liberal Win Would Mean for Toronto     What a Progressive Conservative Win Would Mean for Toronto  

Comments

  • Andrew

    Why, why do all these platforms have to be so terrible? Perhaps it will send a message if enough of us vote Green.

    • eternaloptimist1971

      I know I for one will be voting Green. The Big Three have lost their way, and are too mired in past scandals, bad leadership and entrenched cronyism

      • dsmithhfx

        So, two votes for Green!

      • Dagwood Bumstead

        You just given your vote to the PCs then. You don’t beleive in voting strategically? You really want a Mike Harris 2.0 government?

        • OgtheDim

          Strategically, that depends upon which riding you are in.

          And on whether you believe your vote carries more weight philosophically then it does within the overall result.

        • eternaloptimist1971

          No, I don’t believe in voting strategically. I don’t even believe in the party system anymore either. I believe that the person I help gets elected is supposed to be there to serve me and my community, and not toe the party line.

          • Dagwood Bumstead

            So how do you expect to make change? IMHO the best way is to join a party and add your voice in the hope it’ll be heard. Politics is all about compromise …. So well your representative should represent you, they also have not just you to represent. It’s all about numbers – and the squeaky wheel gets the grease!

  • Somebody

    NDP is a joke and everybody knows it. They are good as a minority party to keep the government of the day in check, but they cannot govern.

    Andrea Horwath, you are planning to create a new government bureaucracy to save money? What world do you live in?

    • Andrew

      She evidently hasn’t watched Yes Minister.

    • Dagwood Bumstead

      I like their health plan – However, they must raise taxes across the board to do it, not just tax corporations. As the article stated corporations would just book their profits elsewhere and avoid Ontario tax increases.

  • HotDang

    What an NDP Win Would Mean for Toronto

    Barring a massive, almost unheard of, shift in popular opinion in the next two weeks, it’s not going to happen. Right now, the most likely scenarios are, in order of descending likelihood:
    1. Conservative minority.
    2. Liberal / NDP coalition
    3. Conservative majority
    4. Liberal minority.

    And 2 and three could easily switch positions before the election. I.e. we’re probably fucked.

    • dsmithhfx

      I’m not so pessimistic. I see the likelihood as:
      1. Liberal minority
      2. Liberal majority
      3. Conservative minority
      and
      4. Conservative majority
      with the NDP fewer seats than they had going in, in all cases.

      A Liberal/NDP coalition is a moot point. The NDP will have no choice but to prop up a minority Liberal government, or face an internal revolt with torn up memberships and floor-crossing by remaining mpps.

      Plus they will be preoccupied with finding a new leader. Or maybe they’ll sue for peace and merge with the Liberals.

      Nah, that makes too much sense.

      • HotDang

        Why do you think the liberals would do so well? The polls don’t think so.

        http://www.threehundredeight.com/

        • estta

          I was really hoping the PC’s job plan crumbling would have more of an effect on the polling numbers.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            The phantom job plan is still breaking news. If it has any traction or the HudaCons can’t spin it, I’d expect the impact to show in polls taken ina week or two.

          • tomwest

            In two weeks, the election will be done.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            *taps nose*

        • OgtheDim

          The “locked in and voting for x” time hasn’t happened yet.

          I think most people, if they know anything, think the election is in June sometime.

          That and the polls reliance upon “likely voters” to weigh reality is unproven in Ontario.

        • tomwest

          That include internet polls, which are of unproven reliability.

          If you want a full list of polls, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ontario_general_election,_2014#Opinion_polls

          • Talbot

            You are incorrect about the reliability of online polling. It is actually more accurate than phone polling nowadays. Sure, some firms are more reliable than others, but a properly conducted online poll with a large and well-built representative panel is very accurate.

            With the advent of call display which almost everyone has now (do you ever answer if a 1-800 number calls you?), and the trend of cell-only households (do you know anyone under 40 with a landline?), phone polling is becoming less accurate every year. Yes, randomly generated numbers are used to capture cell numbers and unlisted landline numbers, but as I pointed out already … who is going to answer a 1-800 number on their cellphone, or any number they don’t recognize? I know I don’t.

          • tomwest

            Online polling is also limited to those people with internet access and the time and inclination to answer polls.

          • Talbot

            Yes, but I think you might not understand how online panels work. A properly constructed panel – consisting of hundreds of thousands of Canadians – is in itself a miniaturized sample of Canada. It has the same proportions of gender, age, region and income or education (according the the Census). It is a snapshot of the country’s demographics. It isn’t just a bunch of unemployed coupon collectors sitting at home all day that are members of these panels.

            And I am not sure how your “time and inclination to answer polls” argument is relevant. That is actually an argument in favour of online polling. Whereas a phone poll must be conducted the moment you are called (which is usually during the dinner hour), an online poll can be done at your leisure (well, within a few days).

          • tomwest

            So why do online polls often show different results to phone polls? (Outside the margin of error). It implies at least one of them has a systematic bias

          • dsmithhfx

            All polls, including elections, have systemic biases that can be more or less easily gamed by interested players. I agree that internet polls are particularly vulnerable and for that reason can be taken with a grain of salt, but telephone polls aren’t too far behind either.

          • Talbot

            @tomwest:disqus: Like anything, how a tool is used is just as important as the quality of that tool. The questions can be framed incorrectly, or asked in the wrong order. Or there isn’t enough diligence in ensuring it is the correct sample frame. Or it can depend on the subject .. municipal politics is infamous for giving wonky polling numbers as most people don’t give two shits about municipal politics (until recently in Toronto).

  • Ancientharp

    The tone of all these pieces is rude, dismissive, and smugly upper-middle-class. It’s the smugness that is so appalling, honestly. “It’s hard to argue with helping kids, seniors, and the economically disadvantaged.” There’s a lot of people out there who are hurting, and it’s not just folks on welfare and/or working at McPukes. The NDP are the only ones with a stated intention to preserve the middle class. That means me… and you… and probably everyone you know.
    Whomever this author is, they need to get over themselves.