Government needs to lie in the bed it makes for itself

You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.

– Abraham Lincoln

Mr. Lincoln’s wise words remind us that it never pays to pass the buck.  It doesn’t pay to evade Ontario’s spending problem and blame the federal government for the economic woes of Ontario, which the recent economic statement from Finance Minister Charles Sousa tries to do.

Premier Wynne and her ministers have the opportunity to get Ontario’s fiscal house in order and were encouraged to do so by federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver who said in response to the message coming from Queen’s Park, “After 11 years in office, it is time the Ontario Liberals take responsibility for their economic management.”

He added, “While our Conservative government increased transfer payments to Ontario by 76%, the Liberals saddled Ontario with crippling debt and higher taxes.”

Ottawa could help Ontario get out of its spendthrift mode by re-evaluating the FedDev Ontario program (federal/provincial partnership grants).  (It wouldn’t do the federal debt any harm either.)  The program would have merit if it focused on legitimate, crucial infrastructure, e.g., roads and sewers (NEEDS).  Unfortunately, projects such as Tecomseh’s Lacasse Park Baseball Diamond, The Oakville Curling Club, and Brantford’s proposed Laurier-YMCA Athletics Complex (WANTS) undermine the program.  This is particularly true of the Laurier-Y in the wake of the WGSC (another FedDev project) debacle.  This one was massively over budget and is not paid for.

(It’s astounding that during the recent municipal election, Brantford candidates amped up the clamour for yet another athletics complex in the west-end, which will no doubt involve appeals to the province and the feds for financial help.  The wants never end.)

Minister Sousa announced that Treasury Board President Deb Matthews will review spending to find areas where savings are possible.  This sounds good, but wasn’t this done by TD economist Don Drummond in 2012?  We no longer hear about his report.

To make a better bed to lie in, the Ontario government should get a better understanding of what Ontario needs instead of what Ontario wants, which is the underlying message of the dusty Drummond report.

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