TORONTO – The economic platform touted by Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak contains yet another mistake – this one to the tune of $2.15 billion, the Liberals said Thursday.
That’s the amount of money the Tory leader has pledged to save each year with a public-sector wage freeze if he replaces Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne after the June 12 election.
However, the Liberals said the Tories’ budget plan contained no money for wage increases, meaning Hudak would have to make huge cuts to achieve the kind of savings he is promising.
Hudak is already under fire by a number of economists for apparently using faulty math in his pledge to create one million jobs over eight years. He has insisted his plan is sound.
To cut $2.15 billion, a Hudak government would have to go on a “frenzy of slash and burn,” the Liberals said.
“Everybody is fair game,” said Brad Duguid, Liberal minister responsible for post-secondary education.
“This is exactly what happened with (former Tory premier) Mike Harris.”
Hudak is either misleading voters or is “grossly incompetent,” Duguid said.
The Tories fired back at what they called “another desperate attempt” by the Liberals to distract from their “reckless overspending and waste.”
In Depth: Ontario Election 2014
They argued the Liberals have no wage freeze in effect, and their proposed budget made no mention of such a freeze or accounted for any related savings.
“It even talks about continued wage increases for the broader public sector,” the Tories said of the budget.
Wynne herself called Hudak’s pledge to cut 100,000 public-sector jobs “irresponsible.”
“It did not work in the past and it will not work again,” she said.
Wynne also pleaded with voters to give her a chance to prove that the scandals that have bedevilled the Liberal government are a thing of the past.
The premier, who has repeatedly apologized for the cancellation of two gas plants that will cost taxpayers upwards of $1 billion, said her government had already moved to increase accountability.
“What I’m taking to the people of Ontario is my integrity and my commitment to them that we will do everything in our power to make sure that such a decision doesn’t get made again,” Wynne said.
The New Democrats have accused the Liberals of corruption and the Progressive Conservatives have attacked them for incompetence or worse.
Wynne did concede the siting of the gas plants was poorly handled in the first place.
Changes already made, she said, include tighter rules around the retention of documents, and curtailing the authority of political staff to “sign off and tie the government to contracts.”
© The Canadian Press, 2014