06.21.2010 01:23 PM

…this, meanwhile, is smart strategy

My God Almighty, this guy is a great communicator.


  1. Paul R. Martin says:

    So why is the rate 13%. He should have reduced the overall burden to 12% and should not have sent out the rebate checks. It still looks like a tax grab to me.

    • James Bow says:

      Giving McGuinty the benefit of the doubt, the changeover is supposed to be revenue neutral, as any increased revenues from the combined HST will be offset by income tax cuts. But it isn’t clear just how revenue neutral the HST changeover will be.

      I mean, you’ve heard that some consumer items that used to be PST exempt will now have PST charged, but that’s actually not so many items — or at least, not so many items that most of us will notice. And the HST replaces a tax that used to applied in some cases but will now NOT be applied because certain businesses are GST exempt. McGuinty is already trotting out the example of Maritime Ontario, a freight company that used to collect PST but not GST and now has to collect neither. That’s apparently a savings in the millions, which means millions that the provincial government does not collect. So, McGuinty now has concrete examples to point to that this _isn’t_ a tax grab, but a tax realignment.

      But stepping back and looking at this strategically, McGuinty is bringing forward a number of “harsh medicine” measures at precisely the right time. The HST is going down a full year before the 2011 election, giving him a full year to recover. He’s also delayed payment on up to $4 billion of funds for Metrolinx’ transit improvements, severely limiting the number of major transit projects that can break ground in the GTA this year. Both moves have the potential to produce financial dividends for Ontario’s coffers in, you guessed it, 2011.

      If it turns out that the financial picture in 2011 is better than expected, take a guess at what happens. Suddenly, some of that $4 billion in deferred funds comes available, and work can start anew on some of the delayed transit projects. Also, if the HST proves to be more revenue positive than revenue neutral, McGuinty suddenly has the option to cut the HST from 13% to 12%.

      On the eve of the 2011 election.

      That’s the method that I see in this madness, so to speak.

      • Catherine says:

        So James if McGuinty can use this to his advantage, so too can Harper and the feds. no? The provinces can’t move in this direction without their assistance.

        • James Bow says:

          In my opinion, I don’t think the feds can use this. It’s the way the HST is structured: the feds aren’t changing their GST, BC and Ontario are replacing their PST. They’re doing the work, and so most of the political fallout, and benefit, accrues with them. At most, Harper and Flaherty are seen as administrators — dutiful politicians responding to requests from the provincial governments — and possibly cover by the McGuinty Liberals to blunt criticism from Hudak’s Tories.

          This is why I’m pretty sure it’s a mistake if any federal Liberals try to make hay over this issue.

          • Cath says:

            re: the federal Liberals and the HST. There’s a clip of an interview making the rounds of Mr. Ignatieff doing a one-on-one from B.C. with A1 News in which when asked about the HST and B.C. in particular Mr. Ignatieff answers in a way that we’re coming to expect of him. If you can watch it James you can’t actually tell if the fed. Liberal position is for it or against it…..actually a bit of both. Who knew that the federal party had a policy on it?

  2. The Other Jim says:

    Doesn’t this guy age?

    Most politicians seem to age significantly once they attain high office (Obama, Bush, Mulroney, Harper, etc.) – overnight they just seem to get greyer/balder/fatter/more tired looking. McGuinty looks the same as he did 10 years ago!

    • Erik says:

      It’s because McGuinty is an android.

    • James Bow says:

      Good point. Look back at our leaders, and see how the job has aged them.

      Brian Mulroney 1984: Dark hair.
      Brian Mulroney 1993: Hair white as a sheet

      Bob Rae 1990: Brown hair
      Bob Rae 1995: White hair.

      McGuinty 2003: Dark hair.
      McGuinty 2010: Dark hair.
      Secret portrait of McGuinty hidden in a closet of his office: You don’t want to know.

  3. Ted says:

    Like what McGuinty is doing or not, but this is the kind of political leadership and openness and accountability that we are sorely sorely lacking in Ottawa.

    First of all, leadership requires tough decisions on controversial issues. No question the HST is controversial, but McGuinty (and Campbell) made the decision that it was in the best interest of his province to adopt it so he made the call.

    Second, he doesn’t shirk or hide or avoid the issue or avoid his bosses (us, the voters and taxpayers). He comes right out to state his case, taking ownership the issue and responsibility for the decision.

    Third, he is treating the voters and taxpayers as adults. He is not spending any time, let alone most of his time, attacking his critics or opposing parties. It’s a short ad so there is no detail in the ad (which can be found on the website), but he is explaining his decision without emotional blackmail or scaremongering or attacking anyone.

    By contrast, in Ottawa, there is a lack of leadership on the big issues of the day: nothing on healthcare, for example; opposition to bank regulations and then flip flopping and trying to take credit for existing bank regulations.

    The little bit of leadership that is forced upon the government – eg. doing something about the economy (note: I’m not saying spending was forced on them, Harper was already the by far biggest spending PM in our history, but he denied the recession would come and then had no answer when it did)- is used as an opportunity to attack and make partisan gains and even attack opposition leaders on the world stage at G8 meetings abroad.

    Could you ever see Harper make an ad like this explaining his decision to flip flop and recognize “nation” or on his Afghanistan policy or his record shattering spending spree or his decision to break his campaign promise to have fixed election dates or tax income trusts?

    On the contrary, Harper doesn’t like to communicate with Canadians. His messages are only highly partisan and contrived like the end-of-year photo of him in the Commons or the multi-million dollar do-over photo op in the Arctic.

    And THAT is why he doesn’t have a majority. No leadership.

    Canadians, by and large, are not political partisans the way us political junkies are, and they do not like the constant me, me, me of petty partisanship, especially when they use our taxdollars for THEIR gain. And especially when they continually practice the politics of small and petty.

    (And THAT is why the opposition parties, especially the Liberals, have not gained any more traction despite the lack of popularity of Harper and the Conservatives.)

  4. Wascally Wabbit says:

    Couple of observations.
    Michael Ignatieff was in BC over the weekend taking shots at Gordon Campbell and their version of the HST.
    By extension – I consider that he was taking shots at Dalton and his team – the best Liberal team in Canada at the moment.
    Campbell – I consider to be Liberal in name only – he has tended to take a conservative stance on many things – the one exception being the Environment.
    On the other hand – Dalton’s team has been fiscally prudent – and considering the mess that they inherited from Harris / Eves, Greg Sorbara and now Dwight Duncan have done a great job getting the good ship Ontario back on course. And George Smitherman – and now Deb Matthews – have really got the Health monster almost wrestled to the ground.
    Mr. Ignatieff really needs to think through the wider implications of what he says – before he says them – otherwise he may be having to retract later.
    He also should look to Canada’s most populous province, Ontario, where he has the most chance of picking up lost seats – and improve his relationship with the provincial party.

    • Ted says:

      What “shots” was he taking? I’ve only read reports of him asking not to be blamed for Harper’s initiative and Campbell’s tax. Seems more like an attempt at a neutral position to me in defence of blame shifting by the federal government.

  5. bigcitylib says:

    He still reminds me of Norman Bates.

  6. Michael Behiels says:

    Yes, Premier McGuinty’s approach to governance puts Harper’s approach to governance to shame.

    Furthermore, a strong, dynamic, forward looking Liberal Ontario will ensure that Harper’s drive for a majority via Ontario will be very difficult – not impossible but improbable in the near future.

    The national Liberal Party, its leader, and the divided Liberal caucus can learn a thing or two from Premier McGuinty and his Liberal Party and administration. It is tough medicine but the rationalization of taxes in Ontario will allow the province to develop new types of jobs for a new age.

    Meanwhile Ignatieff, afraid of attacks from Harper’ PMO & WAR ROOM, is out there trying to disassociate himself from the HST!!

    The Ontario and National Liberal parties have to cooperate more fully and work out an agenda and a set of tactics and strategies that will enhance the chances of both parties to sustain credibility among the voters in an increasingly unstable political environment.

  7. Darrell says:

    Now I get it WK, McGinty for PM, your good oh boy your good.

  8. Steve says:

    Reality check:

    I live and vote Liberal ( federally and provincially) in a relatively privileged part of the “905 Region”. Despite their education and comforts, a plurality of voters in my ridings still voted in Tories ( i.e. first-past-the-post) . These are the voters who knew or ought to have known the Tory lines were BS when they heard them.

    It rankles me further to know that they succeeded in electing MP /MPP’s with help from the never-ever-to-win NDP candidate leaching enough (protest) votes to deny the Liberal candidates success.

    • Catherine says:

      It does rankle to watch the NDP play ‘a pox on both of their houses’ politics.

      But, mostly because I do not want to meet them, or their policies, half-way.

      • James Bow says:

        NDP voters have a right to vote for whomever the choose, just like Liberal voters, or Bloc voters. It’s fundamentally undemocratic to seek to take their option away and “force” them to vote for a candidate you just happen to like.

        Don’t assume that just because the NDP option isn’t there, your guys will automatically win more seats. You might still lose those seats, and simply reduce voter turnout.

        • Catherine says:

          Good point James!

        • Ted says:

          Who is trying to take anyone’s vote away or even talking about trying to do so????

          • James Bow says:

            I think it’s an appropriate comment when we talk about the possibility of a NDP/Liberal merger, and I was more responding to the points raised above where commentators grumbled about Conservatives being elected because of the presence of NDP candidates “splitting” the vote. That always strikes me as having the ring of “how dare NDP voters and candidates campaign on their own issues and drain votes from us. It’s like they want to have a democracy or something!”

          • Steve says:

            Thank you to James Bow et al. for reminding us the about the NDP’s/ left’s “useful idiot” role for the Tories in the vote-rich GTA and any other riding where the NDP polls a distant but significant third.. [take a look at the numbers for Newmarket Aurora provincially and federally for your ease of reference]

            Harper and his sock-puppet Tory GTA candidates, I’m sure, must be grateful.

          • James Bow says:

            Steve, that’s precisely the sort of arrogance that got the Liberals canned in the first place. The Liberals are not entitled to those NDP votes. Stop pretending that you are.

  9. Riley says:

    On the contrary, I don’t think he communicates well. You can tell he’s reading (or a memorized) a script and he almost mumbles his words a couple of times. Plus, he’s wearing a blue shirt against a backdrop of green trees — reminds me of another “brilliant” TV ad a while back starring a different Liberal leader and we all know how the media reacted to THAT ad campaign. McGuinty can’t recover entirely from this. Here’s why: The most important operating principle in Canadian politics in the last 10 years is “fairness”. The only thing that gets people really mad is when there is the perception that someone is getting special treatment. People are bitter and angry. It took over as the operating principle during AdScam … it operated when ignatieff was coronated as leader, rather than let rank and file Liberals vote for him … it operated when Harper put conservative logos on phony stimulous cheques… it operated when harper prorougued and it happened earlier when Dion tried to “steal” power by forming a coalition of losers after “losing” the election … and now it looks like big business getting a tax break at the expense of a tax increase for you and me … I don’t think it will elect the cons, but Look for a Liberal minority government next time.

    • JStanton says:

      …so what you are saying is that the video doesn’t come across as a hyper-produced, commercial undertaking by a big PR company, right? It’s just this slightly geekey but clearly sincere guy doing his best to reassure the folks that are depending on him to make sure they are covered.

      Yeah; he’s wearing a blue shirt on a green background. So what? That’s what he wore to work that morning. Would you feel better if he borrowed one of Mr. Harper’s sweaters from the PR company that manages the Prime Minister’s propaganda productions?

      • Riley says:

        He could have chosen a million and one other visual themes besides the Harpo sweatervest or Ignatieff’s chit chat in the woods — both widely ridiculed by the media. Maybe a graphic of some kind. People tune out when they see a talking head, these days. They need movement and graphics every two seconds — that’s basic TV production 101. This comes across as a sincere guy saying… “YOU paying higher, more regressive sales taxes while big business gets a tax cut really is good for you. Please, believe me. Really, really, pleaaaase…” It’s just not fair. The highest income earners used to pay a lot more taxes (and they should, their businesses and activities benefit more from public services — roads, educated employees, a legal system that protects their assets, a healthcare system that gets their companies off the hook for healthcare costs, etc.) The system isn’t fair anymore and that’s why people are mad. The cons understand this and have managed to claim the support of “ordinary hardworking Canadians who play by the rules” — all the while preparing policies that will make us less secure, more angry, more stressed and better armed. Instead of spending money on policies that reduce crime — like good services and early learning, they’re going to spend $5 billion on crime factories. Meanwhile, the Liberal party has been positioned as the party of “the elites” and the NDP as the party of special interest groups who only want YOU to pay for THEIR special priviledges. These are very hard positions to counter and we progressives sat on our butts as the Canadians conservative movement stole every trick in the republican playbook and we chuckled that it could never happen here. The only option left, now, is to go on the attack — right in their own back yard and provoke the loonies — and get progressives to co-operate (and don’t ignore the Green party — they’ve held double digit support for over a year and they have the most charismatic leader.)

  10. Brian says:

    I support the HST, I support the governments who are implementing it on this one issue, and chuckle ruefully at the shortsightedness of the parties who are opposing the HST in principle instead of opposing details of the implementation.

    Imagine how much better Tim Hudak would look – and feel – right now if he’d insisted on cutting the rate instead of sending out rebate cheques. He could then run against the HST, without having to commit to wiping out the savings to employers in the process.

  11. Lipman says:

    The government is doing an excellent job getting the message out there. Just today, I spoke with a bunch of smart people (most of them lawyers) handing out leaflets downtown informing people about the HST. That is a well-produced video.

    Don’t backtrack with Hudak, Ontarians.

  12. James Smith says:

    I the Premier (I LOVE saying that!) has really grown into this job. The look of this vid is similar to the Iggy Vid from last summer but with a difference. The difference from my POV is the Premier has a more polished message & while there’s not a lot of content in 60 seconds, his message feels weighty. Also helps that he’s right.

    Totally off topic. My Daughter & I had some fun making this goofie vid please watch:


  13. keyrocks says:

    There are a few good federal Liberals who would like Dalton to replace Ignatieff (when the time comes, of course) and believe he would win the next following election soundly, though I’m sure the ‘wish’ will fade into the smog. Dalton looks like he’s focused on staying at Queen’s Park for a good while yet; he has lots to finish.

    • Riley says:

      McGuinty is hated in Ontario outside Toronto. He is not well known outside Ontario, except that he is from Ontario (Quebec won’t like that, and Western Canada won’t like that.) Gerard Kennedy would have a better shot — he’s an outsider, originally from Western Canada and he speaks “ordinary Canadian”.

  14. Patricia Morfee says:

    I beg to differ with Riley who says that Mr. McGuinty is hated in Ontario outside of Toronto. I live in rural Ontario and we have an MP who has been elected when in opposition and twice with McGuinty as Premier. I have met Mr. McGuinty, who has visited our little area on different occasions while we have not had Conservatives visit including Mr. Harper or Mr. Hudak. If they have it has not been not reported. Oh and by the way our popular MP is presently Speaker of the House in Toronto. I am a senior over 65 who supports the new HST.

    • Riley says:

      I personally like Dalton McGuinty and I don’t live in Ontario anymore (I did for a number of years and my wife was born and raised in Toronto and my daughter was born there, but we presently live in Manitoba and I grew up in Saskatchwan and lived in Calgary for a year after University.) I think, in general, the Liberals are doing a good job in Ontario (I lived there during the darkest years of the Harris regime) but they need to pick up their game. The alternative is too horrible to contemplate — but we must, and in great detail. When you have MLAs standing up saying Toronto and Ontario should separate, there is a reason for that. There is solid support for some truly bat$h!t loony MLAs out there — particularly in eastern Ontario and up near lake Huron. They aren’t going away. Guys like that have control of the federal government, right now and they’re going to get more and mroe control of it with changes in seat distribution coming down the pike. It will be possible in the future for the conservatives to win a majority government without the support of Toronto or Quebec. Then all bets are off.

  15. Debra Davis says:

    Medium is the message. The smile does not work with the reality of the message.

  16. Tim says:

    He just needed one of those birds chirping in the background to land on his shoulder. Or a rabbit to cuddle his leg.

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