May 6, 2014 2:58 pm

Hudak clarifies awkward presser, says he’ll end ‘corporate welfare’

TORONTO – Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak clarified his stance on “corporate welfare” a day after he was repeatedly unable to answer questions on whether he’d end a government handout program that benefited the business he was using as a photo op.

He said Tuesday he doesn’t blame companies for taking government handouts when they’re available, but still thinks giving companies money to create jobs is a bad idea.

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For the second day in a row, Hudak campaigned at a small factory in suburban Toronto that accepted government grants to expand. (He’d been to Scarborough’s Automatic Coating Ltd. a couple of times before – once last July and once last January)

“The next leader of the province of Ontario has to focus on doing what’s going to have the biggest bang for the buck when it comes to job creation,” he said. “Instead of giving out cheques to the well-connected, actually lower taxes for all businesses, get hydro under control and stop with the government debt.”

The Tories say they’d kill the Liberals’ plan to provide $2.5 billion over 10 years in grants to companies to attract new jobs.

Read More: Ontario gave 109 companies $765M over 8 years. So where are the jobs?

Hudak says it’s only natural for companies such as Automatic Coating and Metalworks Studios, the Mississauga company he visited Monday, to take government cash when it’s on offer because their taxes are so high, saying they’re just getting some of their own money back.

Conservative strategists insist they haven’t been taken by surprise at the government grants the companies they’re visiting have received: They claim that’s the only way those businesses can get ahead under the Liberal government.

With files from the Canadian Press

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