Three Ontario PC candidates joined me live for an hour of On t The Line at CTS TV. The fourth, Randy Hillier, joined us by phone.
Subjects of tax relief and supporting business growth drew the strongest, unified support among the four. The harmonized tax was ganged up on. One promise was made to Ontarians:
Should the PCs form the next Ontario government, citizens of Ontario can look forward to a relief from the harmonized tax. Concerning bailout packages, the candidates expressed grave concern about too much government ownership, citing GM as an example and warned that big government undermines private sector competition.
The major issue of contention among the candidates was about the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Tim Hudak and Randy Hillier want to see it abolished. Frank Klees accused Hudak of polarizing the party over the issue, preferring a return to the commission’s original mandate of protecting minority groups against barriers to employment and tenancy. Christine Elliott, meanwhile, warned that to abolish the commission would mean handing over the next election to Dalton McGuinty.
Here’s some of what the candidates represented individually:
Klees supports “fiscal and social responsibility,” emphasizing strong business growth. He accused the McGuinty government of stifling this needed growth with over-regulation and red tape. He advocates a stronger private sector and less government to bounce back economically.
Elliott emphasized a need for compassion in the Conservative camp, citing a vision to see charitable tax credits double as an incentive to help the province’s most vulnerable. She advocates an eight per cent flat tax and stressed the need for a multi-faceted plan to facilitate economic growth, including the choice of a 60-hour work week.
Hudak openly supports traditional Conservative right-wing policies with protection of middle class interests. He scolded McGuinty for “unaffordable collective bargaining agreements with unions.” He warned of a shrinking private sector and a growing public sector of which the taxpayers can no longer afford to sustain.
I asked Hudak whether he had apprehensions about former Ontario premier Mike Harris’ endorsement of him; he answered that he was proud to have his support, complimenting Harris’ ability to unify the party.
Hillier advocates for “everyday people.” He wants to end the practice of big bureaucracy and large unions, accusing McGuinty of using the harmonized tax to pay for a growing public sector. Being founder of the Ontario Landowners Association and a rural activist, Hillier called for equality between urban and rural Ontarians.
On June 27, the party chooses its new leader with its vision to stimulate the economy through business and tax incentives.