Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Ontario NDP: The Party of No Damn Principles?

That is the conclusion Rick Salutin recently came to in a column entitled Andrea Horwath's right-wing populism.

Describing her as a right-wing populist, full out, Salutin explored the framework within which this unpleasant and inconvenient truth emerges:

She’s Rob Ford, thinking always about saving taxpayers money simplistically by cutting waste and public salaries, in order to hand out $100 Hydro rebates: that’s gravy train talk, province-wide.

She’s Mitt Romney appealing to his base when she invokes concern for “the job creators and small business,” i.e. the makers not the takers.

She’s Margaret Thatcher when she opposes any meaningful revenue increase for public projects like Kathleen Wynne’s pension plan and transit expansion.

And she’s Mike Harris when she advocates “a government that makes sense” and emblazons “Makes Sense” on her campaign bus. That’s no coincidence, it’s an evocation of Mike Harris’s “Common Sense” motto. These things don’t just happen, they’re focus grouped to within a breath of survival.

With each passing day, Salutin's acerbic analysis rings increasingly true.

On Wednesday, continuing her slow tease out of 'policy,' Ms. Horwath promised to encumber the cabinet with a new ministry for 'cutting waste' at Queen's Park:

The Minister of Savings and Accountability would be charged with finding a half a per cent of savings – about $600-million – in the annual budget each year.

With little more than her usual rapid blinking that accompanies each departure from traditional NDP principles, the leader averred “There are a lot of people around the cabinet table whose business it is, whose job it is to spend the money,” but “What I want is someone there who’s going to be able to save the pennies.”

While those pennies saved be put toward progressive programs? Apparently not. Aware of the difficulty in finding $600 million in savings each year, Horwath said it could mean “hard decisions” about social programs.

So there you have it. Trimming the 'fat.' Saving the taxpayer money. Funding business to hire people. Apparently those are the new 'principles' of the Ontario NDP under Ms Horwath's 'leadership.'

Or perhaps Liberal party spokeswoman Rebecca MacKenzie put it even more tartly and accurately when she said, “It's impossible to know what Andrea Horwath stands for any more. She has gone from calling herself a socialist to mimicking Rob Ford and Tim Hudak.”

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