Ontario NDP Forget that Taxes Are Redistributive

By Nicholas Kevlahan
Published February 19, 2014

An article in yesterday's Spectator notes that the Ontario NDP has joined the Ontario PC party in opposing all revenue tools to fund the next phase of Metrolinx transit projects:

[Ontario NDP leader Andrea] Horwath sent [Ontario Premier Kathleen] Wynne a letter warning that she "will not support any new taxes, tolls or fees that hit middle-class families" in the minority Liberal government's budget.

When did the NDP morph into a "no tax is a good tax" party - and throw in tolls and fees for good measure?

Has anyone tried to explain to Horwath that taxes are redistributive and that if the NDP actually wants to help middle-class and poorer families, improved transit choices are one of the best ways?

The current system hurts the poorest Ontarians by forcing them to subsidize an automobile-based transportation network many can't even use.

Making transit a realistic option would allow families to save $10,000 per year if they can do without one of their cars - or $20,000 if they can go from two to zero cars. That is a huge benefit, especially to low-income families.

Someone on minimum wage makes less than $20,000 net per year, so a savings of $10,000 makes a huge difference in standard of living to a family with one or two minimum-wage earners.

When did the Ontario NDP stop understanding that taxes and fees pay for government services that disproportionately help the poor, and that keeping taxes and fees low at the expense of universal services is just an aid to the wealthy?

You can read Horwath's letter to Premier Wynne.

Nicholas Kevlahan was born and raised in Vancouver, and then spent eight years in England and France before returning to Canada in 1998. He has been a Hamiltonian since then, and is a strong believer in the potential of this city. Although he spends most of his time as a mathematician, he is also a passionate amateur urbanist and a fan of good design. You can often spot him strolling the streets of the downtown, shopping at the Market. Nicholas is the spokesperson for Hamilton Light Rail.


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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted February 19, 2014 at 09:12:18

this is nuts

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By arienc (registered) | Posted February 19, 2014 at 10:16:42

The NDP want to be popular.

Taxes are not popular.

That's the full extent of the thinking that goes into their position.

The general public don't see a problem with gridlock. They are still driving their cars everywhere and don't want to pay more to do so than they do today. Apart from the maybe 5-10% of us that are paying attention, no one understands - or even cares - that this is not sustainable.

Politically, doing what is "right" is also unpopular. Populist politics is all the rage these days, on both the left and the right.

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By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted February 26, 2014 at 17:24:03 in reply to Comment 97692

Hamilton doesn't have gridlock.

We do however have to many taxes already.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted February 19, 2014 at 12:22:04

No surprise. The NDP's central platform plank is household expenses beyond all else. No matter how this plank undermines their other goals, it's not something they budge on. Especially not high-visibility taxes things like HST - the federal Cons were brilliant to cut this regardless of policy validity, it's something every Canadian voter sees every time they pay for goods.

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By Reality (anonymous) | Posted February 19, 2014 at 12:32:53

The NDP didn't just join the PC's to oppose any new taxes to pay for transit, they have been opposed since it was proposed.

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By ScreamingViking (registered) | Posted February 19, 2014 at 18:32:17

Because if they talk about the bigger picture, their battle cry against the current government lowers in volume.

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted February 19, 2014 at 21:25:57

There is something to be said about accountability on this one. The Liberals have been through spending scandal after spending scandal and have always raised taxes to pay for them.

Now the NDP are saying enough. Even if the Liberal big move talk is genuine (which I have my doubts given it magically became a Liberal party concern and immediate need only after Wynne got into power) I can't see any party having faith in them to implement it. It's a Ornge, Gas Plant, Slush Fund, Health Premium, HST, Eco-Fee heck take your pick which Liberal scandal, waiting to happen.

Sure, Horwath is playing into her base a bit, but I see no reason why Wynne can't raise the corporate tax or upper class income tax rates to pay for it as opposed to further targeting the middle class, as the Libs have been doing for the last few years. Especially considering how much income inequality is going on in Ontario.

Comment edited by -Hammer- on 2014-02-19 21:27:49

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By JeffRintjema (registered) | Posted February 28, 2014 at 17:33:49 in reply to Comment 97724

It will be a scandal if transportation infrastructure investment is further delayed.

Voters don't punish scandals of inaction for some reason.

Comment edited by JeffRintjema on 2014-02-28 17:34:27

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted February 20, 2014 at 10:42:38 in reply to Comment 97724

The Big Move and funding plans were being developed well before McGuinty stepping down. This is not Wynne's baby, but a larger plan from the Ontario Liberals.

And yes, the constant corruption and incompetence issues in the Liberal party are undermining this process badly. The Big Move still needs to be done.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted February 20, 2014 at 00:23:40

Andrea Horwath is my MPP since I live in Hamilton Centre. Hamilton's LRT and the revenue tools to pay for it benefits her own constituents.

The NDP should be a party of social justice. The NDP should be on the side of the ordinary person in Hamilton on the HSR.

My resolution for tomorrow is to write her a letter telling her that my support for her re-election to her own seat in the legislature is dependent upon her support of the 10 cent per litre gasoline tax.

I will even offer to join the New Democratic Party if it becomes a true party advocating social justice. Yes, that means more than empty rhetoric. It means (among other things!) a 10 cent per litre gasoline tax to help deter car drivers from launching lethal cancer poison attacks upon our most vulnerable citizens.

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By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted February 26, 2014 at 17:29:19 in reply to Comment 97728

ANY politician who advocates another 10 cent tax on gas is championing their own defeat. You are part of a tiny, tiny minority who carry absolutely no political weight at all here or anywhere.

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By Greg Smith (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2014 at 14:53:54

My wife works in downtown Toronto. She recently received a call about a potential job in Oakville. It's for much less money, but that's not relevant to this conversation. What is is the fact that a closer job in Oakville will take longer to travel to than going to Bay and Yonge in Toronto via public transit. For any improvement in home life resulting from decreased travel time our only option would be for my wife to drive. It's a no brainer to stick with the Toronto job where she's making almost double the pay in Oakville and can take handy, direct transit.

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By DissenterOfThings (registered) | Posted February 21, 2014 at 12:54:51 in reply to Comment 97774

I just tried this, it royally sucks. Your wife should really think long and hard about this. GO transit to Oakville is great, then you get to Oakville and you are at the mercy of their awful local transit. Driving can often take as long as the GO to Toronto (I know that sounds crazy, but trust me it's true) - plus you're driving, so you can't do much else. I am lucky to have found a job now where I only have to go into Toronto twice a week, but the commute to Oakville was killing me quickly.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted February 20, 2014 at 16:20:35 in reply to Comment 97774

This is why Mississauga/Brampton Hurontario LRT is going to be a game-changer for the whole region. A rapid-transit link from the Port Credit GO station all the way out to Brampton, stopping at every office park on the way. This will be huge boon for Mississauga as an employer.

It's unfortunate that all of Hamilton's planned GO-stations are so far from the B-line, and realistically the A-line is a pipe-dream at this point.

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 21, 2014 at 23:06:35 in reply to Comment 97778

Personally I think we should build the B-Line LRT. Talk about a potential building boom from Mac to Eastgate. Not to mention direct connections to Mac, Innovation Park, Downtown CBD, Ottawa/Kenilworth, Queenston and Eastgate.

I would like us to simultaneously build an A-Line BRT from Pier 8 to Rymal Road. Connects to both GO Stations, the waterfront, CBD, B-Line, St Joes, Mohawk, Upper James corridor.

Finally, this would be a great time to explore a new BRT Line that hasn't yet been looked at. One that would use our freeway network and connect business parks/retail centres:

Start at Ancaster Business Park, 403 to Linc/Meadowlands, stops at Garth/Upp Wentworth/Upp James/Upp Gage/Meadowlands East/Queenston/Barton, QEW to Centennial with stops at future GO Station at the old Waxman site and finally Eastgate Square. This line would connect several major employment nodes, as well as connect with the B-Line and A-Line as well as provide connections to N/S Mountain routes with stops above the Linc.

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By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted February 26, 2014 at 17:31:19 in reply to Comment 97822

And where do you propose the money comes from? The tooth fairy? Give your head a shake.

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By DissenterOfThings (registered) | Posted February 21, 2014 at 13:00:52

I am seriously reconsidering my support of the Ontario NDP. If they were saying no taxes/tolls for the middle class, but we're going to increase the corporate income tax rate (or higher wage earners, large companies, etc) I could get it, but so far they are just alienating the people that have supported them for generations.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted February 21, 2014 at 13:03:31

The NDP wants to get elected as they have a leader who is well liked.

They will not get elected by listening to the policy proposals put forward by a bunch of fringe lefties.

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By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted February 26, 2014 at 17:32:42 in reply to Comment 97802

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted February 21, 2014 at 16:40:59 in reply to Comment 97802

There's more to an election than votes. There's fund-raising and volunteers. Nobody is excited by NDP's war on household expenses. Running the most inoffensive platform will just get them ignored and continue the perception that this is a race between Wynne and Hudak.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2014-02-21 16:41:56

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By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted March 02, 2014 at 23:36:43 in reply to Comment 97812

Actually elections are all about votes. All the other stuff you mentioned is just a way to try and get more votes. That's the problem with so much of this site a total lack of common sense.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted March 03, 2014 at 09:45:21 in reply to Comment 98120

If being inoffensive won elections, we would've seen President John Kerry and Prime Minister Stephane Dion.

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By arienc (registered) | Posted March 25, 2014 at 14:24:11 in reply to Comment 98129

Actually, Stephane Dion kind of proves the point.

By all accounts, Dion was in terms of policy, on the ball. But he couldn't sell the idea of changing the tax system to penalize waste / pollution and reward income / earnings.

It totally made sense - tax the things you don't want, reduce tax on the things you do want.

His green tax shift was (unfairly) characterized as a new tax which the majority deemed offensive to them - hence a poor result for his party and his removal as leader. The party faithful couldn't even explain how it worked. It would appear Horvath is trying to avoid a similar fate.

We have a public that only pays attention to soundbites, not reachable en masse except for major events like Olympics, reluctant to change, unless you can explain how that change benefits them in a single sentence. It's gotten worse in the age of Twitter.

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By transit rider (anonymous) | Posted April 13, 2014 at 11:08:14

We already have the money coming in for transit it's just that unlike every other city, we use it on roads instead. We get gas tax money but use it to pay for roads instead of the proper uses the funds were designed for like public transit. We only use a fraction of it for what it was intended. Shifting that budget over would give us the money needed. Further since the provincial one actually depends on ridership, we can actually bring more money as our declining use has been shrinking the money Hamilton gets from the Province.

Unfortunately, I have lost faith in the NDP for they seem to enjoy positive sound bites like "No Taxes" than any real policy, further they no longer hold themselves accountable to their constituents. I for one cannot get Ms. Horwath to respond to me at all in anything. She seems to have forgotten that despite her position as party leader, people like me put her there and her primary purpose is as my representative not NDP partisan rhetoric.

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted April 21, 2014 at 09:03:30

The Adrian Morrow piece in today's Globe and Mail lends greater detail to the picture: During in camera meetings with Bay Street execs, Ms Horwath has reportedly pledged not to dial corporate taxes back to 14% (while not ruling out a smaller hike). She has also reportedly vowed to eliminate the deficit by 2018, by any means necessary.

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