The budget we have tabled in the legislature is entirely about you. It's about your family, your hopes and your dreams. It's about the things that keep you up at night worrying. This budget is about making the choices that help you navigate the turbulence of a changing economy with greater security and more opportunity. And it's about setting your province on a course toward long-term success.
There are ways of funding badly needed projects that are already at hand and don't involve squeezing the long-suffering taxpayer harder. Although it would take some political will, Toronto could realize millions in savings that would go a long way in addressing its budget shortfall.
Under the new curriculum, nay-saying parents have the option of pulling their kids out of sex-ed class. But should they? As a fellow parent of three children in the Ontario public education system, I say no. You can pull your kids out of sex-ed. And maybe one day you will also pull them out of classes that teach about climate change and evolution. Perhaps you don't trust the teacher who might be gay and so you find a way to pull your kids out of his or her class. You are teaching your kids to run from what they fear and instill in them hatred of others. Isn't it better to arm them with knowledge, teach them to respect differences and then trust them?
It's far from perfect, but it is a sign of good will that the government has been listening to its critics -- namely the Ontario NDP who demanded no new taxes on "the middle class" and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation who has long called for a dedicated fund to tie taxes collected from drivers with roadway spending.
The real problem for taxpayers in Ontario is covering the tab for compensation packages of over 1.35 million provincial government workers in Ontario, and the vast benefits that exist in the Ontario Public Service. Employee compensation accounts for half of the provincial budget, without including most pension costs.
Worried about retirement savings? Premier Wynne is certainly worried for you. She doesn't think that families in Ontario are saving enough for their retirement. Considering how much we are nickel-and-dimed in this country, maybe she's right. The further the government reaches into our pockets, the less we have to put away for the future.
On Friday, Toronto city council, through a series of quick and overwhelming motions, stripped Mayor Rob Ford of some of his mayoral powers. This is a win for city council, but also a win for Mayor Ford. Notwithstanding further revelations damaging to Ford, Ford and council can now argue that the city is functioning perfectly well. And these are mere distractions, which do not interfere with council carrying on important city business. Council has inoculated Ford against further attack.
For Premier Wynne, when it comes to the Mississauga and Oakville gas plant cancellations, being an Ontario Liberal Premier, means always having to say you're sorry. But for the most part, these apologies are non-apologies. They are more about "spin" and "PR" than sincerely taking personal responsibility.
Despite all the craziness, our Mayor, the happy warrior kept repeating the simple message of "Subways, subways, subways." Lo and behold, Prime Minister Harper just announced this week that he is coming up with $660-million to complete the financing of the extension of the Bloor-Danforth subway line from Kennedy Station, underground along to the Scarborough Town Centre.
Prime Minister Harper is often viewed by his many supporters and critics as a calculating political strategist with great political instincts. But here is a case, where Harper's acute political instincts have failed him badly. Harper has permitted his Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to revive Flaherty's all-consuming goal of creating a single federal securities regulator. Accordingly, Harper has committed an enormous political blunder.