Four years ago, Tim Hudak made a campaign pledge to cut 100,000 public sector jobs. It was proven to be an ill-considered radical move, which has not only led the party to its fateful demise, but also cost Hudak’s PC leadership position.
Massive public sector job cuts is a political minefield that the current PC leader Doug Ford would try to avoid in the televised debate on Monday. But his plan to cut $6-billion a year in spending without layoffs has drew fierce scrutiny from his rivals and led attacks from Mrs. Wynne and Mrs. Horwath that thousands of teachers and nurses would be fired. Giving that 85 percent of government spending is on salaries, it would take 7000 teachers’ job to save $1 billion.
For voters whose only criterion is change – a government as different as possible in character from the current one – Mr. Ford is the obvious choice. His popular “fight for little guys” slogan has really won the heart of those who were utterly forgotten and ignored by the political elites in their home country. His attacks on excessive government spending by tapping into the rage of Ontarians have resonated well with the immigrant community. For those who have survived the economic hardship – both at home and in the adopted land – by relying on the value of frugality, Ford’s voice was just too close to home.
Indeed, his slogans will have political appeal to the immigrant communities and beyond: Who wouldn’t want to tame a wild government budget and to control the soaring debt to GDP ratio. But Ford, who failed to provide any specifics of his cost cutting strategy during the debate – despite repeated demands from the NDP leader, seemed defenseless to accusations that his quest for savings would lead to deep cuts and layoffs.
Apparently, without an articular clear strategy for finding government efficiencies, Ford’s campaign pledge is either a hollow promise or may lead him to repeat Hudak’s fateful path.
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