Tim Hudak keeps giving Liberals more ways to paint him as a Harris-era Tory

Tim Hudak keeps giving Liberals more ways to paint him as a Harris-era Tory

(Image: Ontario Chamber of Commerce)

The provincial election in October has an oddly retro feel to it: Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak seems inclined to bash Dalton McGuinty for every tax, fee or fine implemented since the Liberals took power in 2003, and the Liberals respond by calling Hudak the reincarnation of Mike Harris. Hudak might have just made their job easier during a visit to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario in London this morning. Asked by a moderator whether he would commit to taking back provincial responsibility for the services that municipalities were burdened with in the ’90s—as McGuinty has pledged—his answer was, shall we say, vague.

The London Free Press reports:

Hudak was asked about such plans—for example, a proposal for Ontario to take over the cost of court security—in a question and answer session with journalism professor April Lindgren at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference in London.

As Hudak discussed the need to ease the provincial government’s financial woes, Lindgren interjected: “So I guess that means maybe?”

Hudak said: “It’s part of our review.”

This doesn’t clear up much of anything at all. While McGuinty and company aren’t exactly champions of cities on this issue (the uploading they’ve pledged won’t be complete until 2016, another election cycle away) the idea is to reverse the Harris government’s downloading from the 1990s—a move that Hudak is being coy about now.

The Tories have also unveiled plans to share the provincial gas tax more widely with municipalities. This sounds fine, except that sharing it with non-transit projects like bridges and roads is effectively a promise to siphon money away from the transit funding that Toronto needs. It might be a fairer way to spread provincial money around (depending on how people get to work in the morning) but for a cash-strapped city like Toronto, whose mayor just last week was trying to squeeze more transit money out of Queen’s Park, it’s not exactly the news many were hoping for from the PC leader.

Hudak won’t commit on costs [London Free Press]
Tim Hudak Will Strengthen Local Communities [Ontario PC Party]