If your wallet feels lighter, it’s not just because of the rising cost of living and inflation.
Ontario’s political parties have teamed up to take $14 million out of taxpayers’ pockets this year, and they’re just getting started.
Back in 2014, former premier Kathleen Wynne introduced the per-vote subsidy. Under Wynne’s plan, political parties would get a set amount of money from taxpayers every three months, to be spent on whatever the parties want, including lawn signs and attack ads.
Thanks to Wynne’s program, Ontario’s political parties have taken nearly $100 million out of taxpayers’ wallets in the past seven years.
But Wynne isn’t the only politician who deserves some coal in the stocking.
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When he was running to replace Wynne three years ago, Ontario Premier Doug Ford promised to scrap her political welfare handouts.
Promise made, promise broken.
Ford has been in office for more than three and a half years, and Ontario’s political welfare program is alive and well.
In fact, political welfare is thriving like never before.
In February, Attorney General Doug Downey announced the Ford government planned to keep Wynne’s political welfare system in place. He also announced that the amount of money Ontario’s political parties receive under the program would increase to historic new highs.
That means not only did the Ford government fail to repeal political welfare, as promised, but it’s also made it even more costly.
When Downey announced this policy reversal, he blamed the pandemic, claiming that the economic climate meant Ontario’s political parties couldn’t fundraise as much as they would have liked to.
All three of the opposition parties at Queen’s Park have chosen to go along with the Ford government’s plan to suck money out of taxpayers.
Ford’s team also quietly introduced a new gravy train for Ontario’s political parties ahead of the 2022 election. The four parties are set to receive $10 million in taxpayer loans for them to spend during the 2022 campaign.
Taxpayers will literally be loaning money to political parties for the privilege of being forced to watch the kind of TV attack ads that make us want to throw up.
But new evidence posted on Elections Ontario’s website shows that the Ford government’s decision to blame the pandemic for breaking its election promise is just hot air. The government’s own legislation keeps the system in place until at least the end of 2024.
If the government wants to blame the pandemic, it certainly can’t use that excuse to justify a three-year extension of the program.
The fact that Ontario’s political parties are crying poor is also a load of hogwash. Last year, in the thick of the pandemic, Ford’s Progressive Conservatives raised $3.4 million. The Liberals and the NDP raised millions as well.
Do those numbers suggest that political parties really need our help?
There are thousands of things hard-earned taxpayer dollars could be better spent on.
The average Ontarian is set to pay $1,850 in provincial sales taxes this year. With the $14 million going into Ontario’s political parties’ pockets, over 7,500 Ontarians could have had a sales tax holiday for the entire year.
Does that sound like our politicians have their priorities straight?
Ontario’s politicians are using the pandemic as a weak excuse to justify raiding the treasury.
Taxpayers can’t let them get away with it.
Ontario’s politicians need to be held accountable.
Ford was right when he said that taxpayers shouldn’t have to see their hard-earned tax dollars pad the pockets of political parties.
Before the next election, taxpayers want to see the old Doug Ford make a return to Queen’s Park and finally take political parties’ hands out of the taxpayer cookie jar.
Jay Goldberg is the Ontario Director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
Jay is a Troy Media Thought Leader. For interview requests, click here.
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