TORONTO – Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak stepped up his attacks on Liberal government grants to businesses Friday, warning that “crony capitalism” leads to corruption as he vowed to end corporate welfare.
“We have seen again and again that the world of crony capitalism, where big government gets into bed with big business, that’s how corruption starts,” Hudak said in a speech to the London Chamber of Commerce.
“The best economic analysis has shown again and again that there is no better job creation bang for the buck than fair, lower taxes on employers.”
Hudak lashed out at the Liberals for allocating “an astonishing $2.5 billion to a corporate welfare slush fund” that he said would be given out at the discretion of Liberal cabinet ministers with no real criteria for the grants or subsidies.
“Handing out taxpayers’ dollars to big corporations simply does not work,” he said.
“There is no credible evidence, and no credible theory, that says any country, any province, any state can subsidize its way to prosperity.”
Premier Kathleen Wynne, meanwhile, was on the attack against Hudak’s plan to cut 100,000 public sector jobs as she campaigned in the Toronto area, and said voters will face a “very stark” choice in the June 12 election between the slash-and-cut Tories and Liberals that want to invest in the province to help create jobs.
“It is a choice between that (Liberal) plan, which builds up communities, and the plan that the Conservatives are putting forward that starts with cutting and tearing down much of what has been built,” she said. “I think that that choice, between creating jobs and cutting jobs, could not be much clearer.”
Wynne also criticized NDP leader Andrea Horwath for triggering the election by saying she could not support the Liberals’ May 1 budget, and then releasing a campaign platform “of disconnected ideas” that is very similar to the government’s plan in many ways.
“It’s confusing in that they didn’t support the plan that we put forward and now they are running on a platform that is basically what we put forward,” she said.
“It really raises the question as to why they didn’t support our budget in the first place.”
Wynne said the Liberals would release their campaign platform in Thunder Bay on the weekend, but admitted it was based largely on the budget, which included a new provincial pension plan for workers without a workplace pension.
“Our plan has been out in the public realm for a long time,” she said.
Horwath rejected the idea of so-called strategic voting as she campaigned in Ottawa and Windsor, saying people do not have to support the Liberals just to stop the Conservatives from forming the next Ontario government.
There’s no need for people to “talk about these ways of voting to keep somebody out or not,” said Horwath, who doesn’t want voters to reward Liberal “bad behaviour” like the $1.1 billion spent to cancel two gas plants and the police investigation into finances at Ontario’s Ornge air ambulance service.
Voters won’t like Hudak’s vow to eliminate 100,000 public sector jobs, so there’s no need for strategic voting, she added.
“When they look at Mr. Hudak’s plan, I don’t think anybody takes that very seriously at all, so I don’t think Mr. Hudak has the kind of chance people might expect,” said Horwath.
With files from Colin Perkel, Allison Jones and Paola Loriggio
© The Canadian Press, 2014