There is some truly good news in the PC Party manifesto, but the plan is not without some serious problems.
By Kevin Love
Published December 27, 2017
The Ontario Progressive Conservative Party recently released their 78-page election manifesto, titled "People's Guarantee".
I have read it with a view toward considering the potential impact upon Hamilton if the PC Party is elected. So here is the good, the bad and the ugly about the PC election manifesto.
The PCs have committed to completing the Hamilton LRT. From page 52 of their manifesto:
The province should fulfill its promise and should formally commit to complete major transit projects that are already under construction. These major transit projects include... Hamilton's Light Rail Transit project.
The PCs are finally on board with climate change. When Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown was a Conservative federal backbencher under Stephen Harper, Mr. Brown dutifully followed the Party line and condemned a carbon tax. Now Brown is proposing to introduce a carbon tax in Ontario. From page 73 of their manifesto:
Patrick Brown and the Ontario PCs will opt in to the federal carbon pricing benchmark.
Yes, that's the same federal carbon pricing benchmark Patrick Brown opposed as a federal MP. First they ignore you...
The PC carbon tax is proposed to replace Ontario's existing "Cap and Trade" system. There are pros and cons to each method, and reasonable people can disagree upon what is the best strategy to fight climate change.
The existing cap-and-trade plan is financing the Ontario Commuter Cycling Program.
The City of Hamilton has recently received $3.7 million to finance the 18 projects submitted for funding through this program. This is a game-changer that will benefit the entire City of Hamilton.
The PC plan will eliminate the funding for the OCCP. There is zero alternative provided in their manifesto, which has zero mention of active transportation.
The PC manifesto contains no commitment to kill the notorious Highway 6 Boondoggle. Just one intersection with Hwy 5 is forecast to cost a mind-boggling $74,630,000. Yes, the decimal point is in the right place. That's almost 75 million dollars for just one intersection. Yikes!
It is the job of the Opposition party to oppose bad government proposals. And the Highway 6 Boondoggle is about as bad as they come.
Most unfortunately, Patrick Brown has a regrettable habit of making false accusations. Three months ago, he was served with a defamation notice for falsely asserting that premier Wynne was "standing trial" for allegations of bribery. Mr. Brown appears to have drawn the wrong lesson from that experience.
Instead of learning to refrain from making false accusations, instead he has learned to make those false accusations sufficiently vague so that he cannot be sued for defamation. An example appears on page 73 of the PC manifesto which denounces:
a slush fund called the Climate Change Action Plan. Taxpayers pay more and Liberal insiders benefit. That needs to change.
Liberal insiders benefiting from a slush fund! That sounds just so corrupt! So who are those "Liberal insiders" benefiting from this "slush fund"? Among other things, the previously mentioned Ontario Commuter Cycling Program is part of this Climate Change Action Plan.
A major beneficiary of the 18 projects approved for Hamilton is expanding the geographic extent and the station density of Hamilton Bike Share. So it looks like the over 12,000 SoBi members are all "Liberal insiders."
Currently, motor vehicle operators poison and kill an average of 93 people in Hamilton every year. The PC plan to prevent this mass annual death toll is to eliminate the Drive Clean program for cars, SUVs and minivans.
This is in spite of their own numbers showing that almost one in 100 of vehicles tested fail this test. In spite of this, page 53 of their manifesto states:
Patrick Brown and the Ontario PCs will scrap Drive Clean for cars, SUVs and minivans.
Yikes! Does the "C" in PC stand for cancer?
There is some truly good news in the PC party manifesto. Hamilton's LRT is now officially cross-partisan at Queen's Park. So anyone who was worried that the project could be threatened by a change of government can now have peace of mind.
Similarly, there is now a cross-partisan consensus at Queen's Park on the need to take action to combat the threat of climate change. Those are positive changes.
Unfortunately, the PC government has committed to scrapping some programs from which Hamilton currently benefits. The recently announced grants for the Ontario Commuter Cycling Program have the potential to transform Hamilton for the better, but have been denounced by the PCs as a "slush fund" for "Liberal insiders."
Meanwhile, there is no commitment by the PCs to cancel the Highway 6 Boondoggle. Most disturbingly for everyone who has to breathe, the PC commitment to scrap the Drive Clean program will have a lot more people dying of cancer.
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