Union ads attack McGuinty, Hudak for backing tax cuts
The Toronto Star
January 19, 2011
Tanya Talaga and Robert Benzie Queen's Park Bureau
A new union-funded advertising blitz is attacking Premier Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals and Tim Hudak’s Progressive Conservatives for supporting tax cuts for corporations.
The $100,000 campaign by a group cheekily calling itself People for Corporate Tax Cuts claims on its slick website peopleforcorporatetaxcuts.ca that its “biggest supporters” are McGuinty and Hudak.
An actress portraying “Nuella Warkworth,” who is billed as “the president, chair, CEO, COO” of the organization, says in the YouTube spots that every Ontario household must fork over $500 to cover the business tax cuts.
“And if you can’t come up with the $500, the government will just take it out of your public services like hospitals, schools, and other luxuries,” intones the bespectacled spokeswoman in her best chipper Sarah Palin imitation.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, who would be the greatest political beneficiary of the ads funded by the Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union, praised the initiative.
But Horwath insisted the New Democrats have nothing to do with OPSEU’s crusade, which she only learned about on Facebook on Monday night.
“I was amused by it. It is very funny but at the same time it has an important message,” she told reporters at Queen’s Park Wednesday.
“We want to see a tax plan in this province that is fair, one that does actual positive things for the economy.”
Horwath has pledged to raise corporate taxes to bankroll the elimination of the 8 per cent provincial portion of the 13 per cent harmonized sales tax from electricity and natural gas bills if she wins the Oct. 6 provincial election.
OPSEU president Warren Thomas said the union spent $100,000 on the ads because members “want corporate tax cuts to be part of the election campaign.
“If it gets people’s attention and gets people thinking and talking about it, that is a good thing,” said Thomas “Humour always paves the way.”
The website features a running tally of hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on corporate tax cuts and boasts a shop for gear such as emblazoned boxer shorts, pet bowls, baby jumpers, mugs and T-shirts.
McGuinty, for his part, said the organization is oversimplifying his administration’s taxation reforms.
“It is a standard criticism offered by the left. But I would ask all Ontarians to take a good hard look at what we are doing in terms of tax reductions,” the premier said.
“We have a comprehensive package of tax reforms that includes personal income tax cuts,” he said, noting tens of thousands of low-income Ontarians have been “taken off the tax rolls completely.”
“There is a new children’s activity tax credit. There is an Ontario property and energy tax credit. We are cutting the price of electricity. If you put it all together people would have to come to the conclusion we are trying to bring a holistic approach to tax reforms that take into account the needs of all Ontarians.”
Hudak, meanwhile, was unapologetic for being “a strong supporter of reducing the tax burden for families and seniors as well as job creators.
“The problem is we were actually on course to having among the lowest taxes on businesses and job creators in Canada and then Dalton McGuinty came into office (in 2003), he jacked them up to among the highest,” said Hudak.
“It was a catastrophic decision. It had a major impact on our manufacturing, our business sector and (was) one of the key reasons why Ontario lost some 300,000 manufacturing jobs in the first few years of this government,” he said.
While the Liberals have since reduced corporate tax rates to levels that have met with approval from the federal Conservative government, Hudak stressed he remains concerned they will increase again.
“I actually don’t believe that Dalton McGuinty may carry through on any commitments to reduce taxes. It’s not in his DNA. This premier is hard-wired to tax and spend.”