Provincial Liberals say Ontario Conservatives ‘afraid to speak out’
Capital area MPs are firing back at a provincial rival’s comments that Ontario Tories are not standing up for their province’s best interests.
In response to comments made by provincial Municipal Affairs Minister Jim Watson, Nepean-Carleton MP Pierre Poilievre said Premier Dalton McGuinty’s tax-and-spend obsession — not the federal government — is what’s discouraging investment in Ontario.
"As soon as Dalton McGuinty was elected he enacted the biggest tax increase in provincial history, targeted against the middle class, and then he raised taxes on business," Poilievre said. "The long-term effects of those increases can be seen by the damage to the Ontario economy and a loss of jobs."
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Watson, who is Liberal MPP for Ottawa West-Nepean, said yesterday that Ontario’s Conservative MPs have been "asleep at the switch" when it comes to protecting the province’s interests, because they are afraid of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
"I hope the Ontario (Conservative caucus) will come out of their shells and speak up on behalf of Ontario taxpayers," said Watson. "I think in many ways they are afraid to speak out because it may thwart their ambitions to move ahead in the party. That’s not a healthy arrangement to have that kind of fear that you can’t speak out and represent your own province."
But Poilievre said Ontario taxpayers have received first class treatment from the federal minority government, noting the federal government has invested record amounts for infrastructure in Ontario and has helped the economy by lowering income taxes and offering incentives to manufacturers.
"We encourage Dalton McGuinty to do the same," he said.
Watson was meeting yesterday with the Liberals’ urban caucus to discuss the province’s growing infrastructure crisis, especially affordable housing. He said while Ontario municipalities struggle to pay for transit, policing and infrastructure, Tory MPs from the province are sitting on their hands watching Finance Minister Jim Flaherty criticize his home province for its tax policies.
But Conservative Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon, a Gatineau-area MP, said the Liberals are ignoring the federal government’s seven-year, $33-billion Building Canada Plan, which he calls the largest federal infrastructure funding plan ever delivered by a Canadian government.
"We invite the Ontario government to sign on so that the people of Ontario can benefit from a major infrastructure funding boost of close to $8 billion to Ontario," Cannon said.
with files from Torstar News Service