Comment 15153

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 05, 2007 at 08:41:36

Jason,

In fairness, after over a decade of cost cutting that continued years after they balanced their budgets, the Liberals finally noticed cities in 2004 and actually did something - albeit not much - about the burgeoning crisis in city finances via the federal gas tax transfer to cities, which the Ontario provincial government matched. (So much for the argument that it's unconstitutional for the feds to give money to cities.)

Further, the provincial Liberals have been reasonably good to cities since the wholesale bloodletting of the Harris/Eves Tories, which was an unmitigated disaster by any standard - even the standard of "fiscal responsibility", since they crippled cities financially and still couldn't balance the provincial books after eight years of solid economic growth.

A big part of the reason why Paul Martin started to pay attention to cities is that the NDP agreed to prop up his government as long as he kept his commitment to help cities out. Think of the New Deal for Cities/gas tax, the revised 2004/5 budget, increased social spending, EnerGuide and EnerGuide for Low Income Houses - all benefits that help people in cities.

I've long argued that the best legislation comes from a Liberal minority with an NDP opposition to keep the Liberals honest. When the Liberals win a majority, they ignore all the centre-left promises that got them into power and play up to big business. When the Conservatives win any kind of government, they play up to big business more overtly, cancel meager positive programs, and deal out disingenuous vote-buying schemes that accomplish little of substance. They've highly politically savvy, but not at all interested in good, pragmatic policy.

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