Monday, June 11, 2007

PC Ontario Leader John Tory unveils election platform

This is from the GLobe and Mail.
All the provincial conservative parties have retained the term "progressive" in their name while the federal party is just "Conservative". The provincial wings must think that the product will sell better with the "progressive" tag. Tory seems to even throw some sops to those left behind. No doubt the Tory tide will lift all boats--but not equally. The metaphor is not exact. The poor getting the crumbs of the bigger cake is more accurate. Some people even seem to think of Tory as a Red Tory. I guess in comparison to Harris he at least has a pink tinge.


PC leader unveils election platform
Tory distances himself from Harris with measures to reduce poverty

June 11, 2007

Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory vowed two years ago to rebuild his deeply divided party by positioning himself as a moderate in the mould of former premier Bill Davis and by reaching out to the party's right wing.

In his maiden speech as party leader in February, 2005, Mr. Tory said he planned to embrace the best attributes of two of his predecessors - his mentor, Mr. Davis, and Mike Harris, father of the province's Common Sense Revolution.

"I think if you could put together the inclusiveness of a Bill Davis, together with the kind of clarity and purpose of a Mike Harris, you'd have something that's going to be a very powerful combination for 2007," Mr. Tory said at the time. "The two of them sum up what I'm about."

This weekend, Mr. Tory officially kicked off his campaign for the Oct. 10 provincial election by unveiling a platform that contains something for everyone. Like Mr. Davis, who led the province from 1971 to 1985, Mr. Tory says he would be fiscally prudent while socially progressive if he wins. (He was Mr. Davis's principal secretary in the mid-1980s.) At the same time, he would avoid the radical cuts to social programs imposed by the Harris government in the mid-1990s that polarized voters.

Mr. Tory told reporters on the weekend that his campaign pledges address the fact that he does not want to see anybody left behind.

"I don't think it's worth being in public life, I don't think it's worth creating the prosperity that I'm committed to producing ... [unless] everybody has the opportunity to share in that," he said.

Many of the promises in Mr. Tory's 52-page campaign document titled For a Better Ontario: Leadership Matters, are not new. In recent months, he has announced plans to boost spending on health care and education, build new nuclear reactors, tackle gun violence and give faith-based schools in Ontario the option of joining the public education system.

In a striking departure from Mr. Harris, Mr. Tory said a Conservative government under his leadership would fight poverty by creating jobs to get more people off the welfare rolls, and revitalize vulnerable communities by creating more affordable housing for the poor and homeless.

"The Progressive Conservative Party that I lead is a party that is committed to helping disadvantaged people, to doing as much as we can to offer people a hand up," Mr. Tory said.

But in a nod to the right, Mr. Tory promised not to ignore the party's traditional supporters - farmers and residents of rural and northern communities. He said he would give smaller communities hard-hit by job losses a "small shot in the arm" by relocating government jobs from Toronto. He has also promised to phase out the annual $2.6-billion health tax over four years.

Mr. Tory said he would make government more transparent by providing frequent disclosure on how tax dollars are spent. But the Liberals attacked him for not saying how he plans to pay for his promises. Mr. Tory said he won't do that until he reviews the provincial Auditor-General's pre-election report on the province's finances, expected this summer.

Deputy Premier George Smitherman accused Mr. Tory of floating a trial balloon.

"What they're really saying is, here's some ideas that we have so far, but check back with us later once the Auditor-General's report comes out and we'll let you know whether we actually intend to do any of these things."

New Democrat MPP Paul Ferreira said the Conservatives have failed to distinguish themselves from the governing Liberals. Both leaders are in favour of nuclear energy, and the government outlined plans in this year's budget to tackle child poverty.

"What we saw here today is John Tory and Dalton McGuinty are one and the same," Mr. Ferreira said.

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