Skip to comments.Real Competition Up North: Tax Hikes Are Bad Politics --Even In Canada
Posted on 06/07/2004 6:40:44 AM PDT by ConservativeStLouisGuy
Americans normally yawn when they hear Canada is having an election, but the nation's usually placid politics are now being roiled by its first truly competitive contest in years.
Buffeted by scandals, Prime Minister Paul Martin's Liberals are in a surprise statistical dead heat in polls with the opposition Conservative Party for the June 28 election. "It's the first time a populist opposition party based outside of Ontario and Quebec has mounted a real challenge to the country's establishment consensus," says John Duffy, a Toronto lobbyist with ties to the Liberal Party.
Mr. Martin is meeting that threat head-on. He opened his campaign with an ad that essentially said Conservative leader Stephen Harper's call for tax cuts was a Trojan horse that disguised a desire to adopt U.S.-style policy prescriptions. "Look, you can have a country like Canada, or you can have a country like the U.S.," Mr. Martin told viewers. "But you can't have a country like Canada with the taxation levels of the U.S. Not without risking the very social programs, the institutions and values that make us, us."
In reality, Mr. Harper's economic platform would be considered tepid in Dallas or even Detroit. The party platform he will release on Monday calls for no cuts in Canada's top marginal tax rates and only brushes against the third rail of Canadian politics, the government-run health-care system. Indeed, the policy he proposes that most mimics a U.S. initiative actually expands subsidies for prescription drugs much as President Bush's pricey Medicare bill did.
Nonetheless, Mr. Harper recognizes there is a health-care crisis and supports having more private companies deliver medical services. Canada's people are ahead of its politicians on this issue. A new poll by the Montreal Economic Institute found 51% support for creating a parallel private system that would let patients pay for speedier service.
Mr. Harper, a trained economist, also wants to stop the state from funneling aid to favored businesses. He told the Toronto Board of Trade this week that "if you want lower business taxes, you must be willing at the same time to stop receiving government subsidies. I won't lower one without lowering the other."
He also wants closer ties with Uncle Sam. Noting that 50% of Canada's privately generated economic activity comes from trade with the U.S., he proposes full economic integration between the two. He wants Canada to beef up its anemic military by 20,000 troops, and he says the number of terrorism suspects found to have ties to Canada dictates more security vigilance.
But the race is ultimately a referendum on 11 years of Liberal rule. Mr. Martin, who succeeded Jean Chrétien last December as prime minister, was immediately plunged into a corruption scandal after revelations that $73 million in government funds designed to combat Quebec separatism were siphoned off to Chrétien cronies. Polls show that 57% of voters think it's time for a change of government and two-thirds believe the Liberals lack integrity.
That impression was reinforced on May 18 when Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty of Ontario -- the province where one out of three Canadians live -- announced he would break a pledge against higher taxes that he signed on television during last year's provincial elections. Using the timeworn excuse that he faced an unexpected deficit, he imposed the largest tax increase in over a decade, with the biggest chunk coming from hiking annual health-care premiums by up to 900 Canadian dollars (US$650) a person.
Former Liberal natural resources minister Herb Dhaliwal says matters were made worse when it was revealed that a Martin confidant had advised Premier McGuinty on the tax increases. Mr. Martin admits he knew about the tax hike in advance, and the breach of trust has led to a collapse in Liberal support in Ontario. Voters simply don't believe Mr. Martin can now deliver promises such as a national child-care system without his own set of tax hikes.
The Ontario debacle recalls how George H.W. Bush's broken "no new taxes" pledge cost him the 1992 election. The lesson was taken to heart: since then not a single Republican member of Congress has voted for a tax increase. In Canada, elite opinion still dismisses the importance of taxes in elections, but experience shows that voters will often punish politicians they think have tricked them on the issue.
(Excerpt) Read more at opinionjournal.com ...
RE: Andrew Faust Conservative lawn sign
He's got a chance unless the Lieberals run Mephistopheles!
(part of their ethnic voters strategy)
Where I live, the Alliance guy had a landslide last election. This time...it'll be even more so. I smell Lieberal blood!
And I like it. ;^)
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