Monday, June 2, 2014

Toronto Star: fiercely opposed to Andrea Horwath

This election in Ontario, the Toronto Star is pulling out all the stops trying to secure a majority for Kathleen Wynne — which her party missed by one seat in 2011.

They have published a lot of pieces critical of Tim Hudak. This is not unexpected. He proposes to bring another hard-right neo-con revolution to Ontario. Much of his platform is very controversial.

Why so anti-Andrea?

But why so many columns — 24 op-eds since the campaign start — so fiercely opposed to Andrea Horwath?

The Star claims to be a progressive newspaper: a "paper for the people." Yet if one compares Andrea’s platform to Wynne’s, it’s clear that Andrea’s platform is to the left of Wynne’s.

So considering Andrea doesn’t represent a threat to The Star’s core values, why are they so up in arms?

Why the lies?

The rhetoric The Star is using against Andrea is not only filled with sneers and smears, it contains outright lies — and some are real whoppers.

It appears The Star editorial board — or perhaps TOSTAR corporation masters of the universe — are taking a page from Goebbels: the bigger the lie the more people will believe it.

For example, Rick Salutin called Andrea a “right-wing populist — full out.” Claimed she’s Rob Ford, Mitt Romney, Margaret Thatcher and Mike Harris all rolled into one. These ridiculous accusations are so far out of the ballpark you’d need the Keck Observatory telescope to get a beat on them.

Why attack? Strategy

The reason Wynne is suddenly “lurching left” this election is to squeeze out the NDP and win the majority her party missed by one seat in 2011. The reason The Star is attacking Andrea with an onslaught of relentless rhetoric is to help Wynne squeeze out the NDP.

Conclusion

The Ontario Liberal party and the Toronto Star make the perfect match this election: they are both mired in corruption.

What The Star is trying to do is not only a betrayal of the fourth estate, it is a betrayal of democracy.

Documentation

Here are all 24 anti-Andrea pieces documented with highlights of the contents.

Editorials: 3

► Premier Kathleen Wynne needs a mandate from Ontarians: Editorial: May 2 A provincial election in Ontario will give Premier Kathleen Wynne a chance to win her own mandate

All this because of a missing financial accountability office? Really?

All this because of corruption, waste & broken promises. All this because Wynne ditched all the NDP policies in her 2013 budget. All this because instead of seeking support for her budget confidence vote, she ran attack ads and sent ultimatums.

Horwath’s policies are fuzzy. She hasn’t promoted traditional NDP issues, such as minimum wage increases. Instead, she has embraced a populist, anti-tax agenda focused on the “middle class.”

This is ridiculous. Andrea demands $12/hr minimum wage indexed to inflation. Better than Wynne’s $11/hr. She promises to cancel Wynne’s $2.4-billion corporate tax cuts for the rich. (Who exactly is supposed to be anti-tax here?)

She offers the poor and disabled rates indexed to inflation — unlike Wynne’s 1% bump that is less than the inflation rate. She offers an HST cut on soaring electricity rates. This will help out low-income the most considering electricity bills make up the biggest share of income.

It’s time that Wynne sought her own mandate from Ontarians.

Yes, that would be better than trying to weasel votes by blaming others for her failed government.

► The Ontario NDP’s campaign platform offers populist platitudes: Editorial: May 23 The Ontario NDP defeated the Liberal government’s progressive budget for a platform of scattered promises.

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath’s new campaign platform inadvertently raises one rather noteworthy question: You forced an election for this?

Actually, the Wynne government fell because of corruption, waste & broken promises. She ditched all NDP policies in her 2013 budget. Instead of seeking support, she ran attack ads and gave ultimatums.

If Wynne wasn’t trying to force an election, she a poor job managing the bill.

But impartial Ontarians can have a look at the kind of platform Andrea is really offering. One can compare Andrea’s and Wynne’s platforms for themselves. Or read them directly: NDP, Liberal.

But it will be interesting to see how many voters are so wary of Hudak’s tilt to the right and so hungry for change after 11 years of Liberal government that they are prepared to choose a premier who is so obviously winging it.

"So obviously winging it" is so obviously agenda-driven rhetoric. The Star is sucking and blowing at the same time. One minute they are saying Andrea’s platform is the same as Wynne’s. The next there saying Andrea’s platform is flimsy. The next they are saying her platform is a right-wing clone of Hudak’s platform.

This sneering commentary leaves out the fact Andrea delivered on key social issue The Star was calling for: dental care for kids, and a good child-care strategy.

But on key issues like gridlock — the biggest topic in Toronto these days — the NDP’s $29-billion transit plan was clearly lifted from the Liberal budget.

This is pure nonsense. The $29-billion transit plan was created by the Transit Investment Strategy Advisory Panel, not the Liberal party.

► Ontarians deserve answers in leadership debate: Editorial: June 2 After campaigning on vague promises, all three Ontario provincial party leaders better come clean in Tuesday night’s debate.

For NDP Leader Andrea Horwath: She’s mainly responsible for this election, after refusing to support the Liberals’ progressive budget. Yet she has not offered a convincing reason for going to the polls beyond saying that she’s fed up with Liberal “corruption.”

Liberal waste, corruption and broken promises. Wynne ditched all NDP policies in her 2013 budget. She began campaigning a month before the election with attack ads and leaked spending announcements.

Wynne offered no convincing reason for anyone to support her budget.

How would she save a promised $600 million when her plan to cut ministries and cap CEO salaries in the public sector would deliver only a fraction of that?

In the Liberal 2014 budget, the Liberals plan to cut bureaucratic waste by twice that amount: $1.25-billion a year. Andrea’s goal of a 0.5% reduction is a modest one. She, of course, does not have the government resources at her disposal to get into details.

How is Horwath’s $29-billion plan to fight traffic gridlock in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area better or different than the Liberals’ plan, which would cost the same amount?

This is a false argument. The $29-billion transit plan was created by the Transit Investment Strategy Advisory Panel, not the Liberal party.

For perhaps the first time in Ontario history, the Liberal party is campaigning on a stronger social justice platform than the New Democrats. How does Horwath explain or excuse this dramatic turnaround? And in view of that reversal, why should supporters of social causes entrust their vote to her?

This is a false statement. Andrea’s platform is left of Wynne’s platform. The claim Andrea is “right-wing” is all Toronto Star electioneering.

Wynne’s half-baked pension plan is also regressive. According to Maclean’s:, it is great for upper-income, but bad for low-income: they will be forced to pay $2 for every $1 they receive in benefits.

Carol Goar: 1

► Ontario NDP sheds role as champion of the poor: Goar: May 15 Andrea Horwath campaigns for lean government, forsaking the poor, hungry and homeless.

She triggered the election by rejecting the most progressive provincial budget in decades, one that would have raised the minimum wage, increased the Ontario Child Benefit, improved welfare rates, and provided more support to people with disabilities.

Wynne began campaigning a month before her suddenly-progressive budget was released with spending leaks and attack ads. She ditched all the NDP policies in her 2013 budget. Instead of seeking support, she offered ultimatums. Her government was mired in corruption and waste.

Instead of wading through all this muck, Andrea decided to offer Ontarians higher minimum wage and better rates and support for the poor and disabled.

She is not interested in being the conscience of the legislature or the standard-bearer for the principles of J.S. Woodsworth, Tommy Douglas and Stephen Lewis.

Tommy Douglas was not a magic-wand socialist. Although he was the first premier to bring healthcare to Canada in 1946, he had to compromise and settle for partial coverage. It took 20 years of hard work to bring universal health care to all Canadians. While premier of Saskatchewan he ran balanced budgets. He is the exactly the kind of New Democrat that Andrea emulates.

Haroon Siddiqui: 1

► Kathleen Wynne is best choice by far as NDP, PCs turn right, far right Given her personal and political qualities, and the significant failings of her opponents, Kathleen Wynne is the best choice for premier.

Andrea Horwath is the NDP’s Michael Ignatieff. As federal Liberal leader, he kept threatening to topple Harper’s then-minority government even as he kept propping it up. Horwath spent two years threatening to bring down the minority Liberal government, even while supporting Dalton McGuinty and then Kathleen Wynne.

This wins the lamest analogy of the year award.

Horwath spent 2.5 years trying to work with obstinate Liberal leaders. McGuinty reluctantly agreed to raise income taxes on the rich, then tried sneaking in a number of neo-liberal measures via an omnibus attachment to the budget. In 2013, Wynne agreed to put some NDP policies in her 2013 budget, but later ditched them all.

In 2014, Wynne cut the NDP out of the process. Began campaigning a month before the budget was released running attack ads and leaking spending announcements. Instead of seeking support for a bill that required a confidence vote, she rendered ultimatums.

When Horwath finally pulled the plug, she did it over a budget that was tailor-made for the NDP — a provincial pension plan for working folks (something she herself had advocated), higher welfare benefits, better child care benefits, etc.

According to Maclean’s, Wynne’s pension plan is regressive. High-income get a boost, low-income get hosed: forced to pay $2 for every $1 they receive in benefits. Andrea demanded higher minimum wage, higher benefits for the poor and disabled which the Liberals were slashing. The Liberal budget offered no child care benefits. Only the NDP platform offers them.

She is running a populist campaign of clichés that would do Rob Ford proud — slash “waste,” cut consultants’ fee, reduce public sector executive wages, and appoint “a minister for savings,” who would, magically, find $600 million a year.

More absurd rhetoric. Wynne’s 2014 budget plans for a $1.25-billion a year cut in bureaucratic waste. That would make Wynne a double Rob Ford!

Rick Salutin: 2

► Andrea Horwath’s right-wing populism: Salutin: May 8 After years of possibly delusional but honourable attempts by the NDP to stay anchored to its social democratic principles, Andrea Horwath marks a change.

This is the absurd column that says Andrea is "right-wing populist — full out": Rob Ford, Mitt Romney, Margaret Thatcher and Mike Harris all rolled into one. Already debunked.

► The ambiguous act of casting a vote: Salutin: May 22 Sometimes Canadians cast their votes to punish the party in power. The payoff is entirely symbolic.

Here’s an example. In the federal election of 2006, Jack Layton’s NDP urged voters to give the Liberal government a “time out” because of the patronage scandals. Those who followed his advice got eight years of Stephen Harper (and counting) plus they lost the very practical benefits of a national child-care program and the Kelowna Accord with native peoples.

Some may say Rick Salutin is the most progressive guy in the universe, but here he is repeating a lame Liberal line.

First, the Liberals broke their national day care promise 4 elections in a row, spanning 13 years. They had the funding: $10-billion surpluses. But they clearly had no intention on delivering.

So in 2006 Martin’s government fell because of corruption and broken promises. Then Martin lost the election to Harper. In 2008, Dion lost even bigger to Harper. In 2011, Ignatieff brought the Liberal party to its greatest defeat in history.

Iggy was oblivious to the fact the election was about the economy, and handed the economy to Harper on a silver platter (even though its strengths were due to Liberal policies according to The Economist.) All he had to do was hold on to a couple points of the blue Liberal vote — like a hapless Dion managed to do — to stop Harper. But he could even manage that.

Clearly it’s pathetic to suggest all this bungling and incompetence from three Liberal leaders is all Jack Layton’s fault.

In this Ontario election, Andrea Horwath’s NDP echoes that message: their first ads tell voters to put the Liberals in the penalty box. The practical result could well be a Tim Hudak government and the loss of all the NDP-ish items that were in the budget Horwath rejected. What’s the payoff? It’s entirely symbolic. You get to “spank” the Liberals for their scandals and corruption, another term used frequently.

Let’s look at the facts. Hudak needs 40% of the RIGHT-leaning vote to win a fake majority (thanks to our absurd voting system, First-Past-the-Post.) However the Left votes, it will not help or hinder Hudak.

Is Salutin appealing to right-leaning voters to give Wynne a break? No. He is trying to weasel left votes for the Liberal party so Wynne can win her own majority.

Don’t be fooled by Salutin’s anti-democratic tripe.

Thomas Walkom: 8

► NDP Leader Andrea Horwath risks much by forcing Ontario election: Walkom: May 2 If June 12 vote results in a Tim Hudak Tory sweep, left-liberal voters will be furious with the NDP.

She wants more New Democrats elected to the Ontario legislature, even if the result is a Conservative government Wynne began campaigning for the election a month before releasing her "progressive" budget with attack ads and a barrage of spending leaks. So it would appear Wynne wants more Liberals elected — to snag her majority — even if the result is a Hudak government.
All of this raises echoes from the past — particularly from 2005, when Jack Layton’s federal New Democrats pulled the plug on Paul Martin’s minority Liberal government just as it was about to bring in a national child care program.

Yeah right. The Liberals broke their national daycare promise 4 elections in a row and it’s all Jack Latyon’s fault for not propping up Martin’s corrupt, red-Tory government 13 years later!

The subsequent federal election, it will be recalled, gave the NDP more seats. But it also introduced eight years of Conservative rule under Stephen Harper.

Actually, Ignatieff rejected the 2008 Liberal-NDP coalition that would’ve ousted Harper and instead chose to prop up the Harper Government. Jack Latyon must have used mind control on poor ol’ Iggy!

And if Hudak becomes premier, a big swath of left-liberal voters will be furious with the NDP.

Maybe they will be furious with Wynne for trying to out-left the NDP, exposing her right flank and letting Hudak into 40% majority territory. This the same kind of incompetence McGuinty displayed in 1999.

► These downtown Toronto voters blasé about Liberal scandals: Walkom: May 7 A stroll through the NDP-held Trinity-Spadina riding finds many willing to give Kathleen Wynne another chance.

So it’s no wonder that some in this riding are baffled by the prospect of yet another election.
“Hudak seems scary and I don’t know anything about the NDP ... I think this gas plant stuff is terrible, but I don’t know.”
“I really don’t want another Liberal government. But I really don’t want Hudak — and I’m mad at (New Democratic Party leader) Andrea Horwath for wasting money to have an election. “So I guess I’ll vote Liberal.”
The NDP? “I can’t buy into them. They’ve turned down an opportunity to work with the Liberals on policies they like ... I guess the Liberals are the best of the worst.”

In other words, Walkom cherry picked some anecdotal evidence to make Andrea look bad. Did he even bother to interview people, or did he make everything up?

► What’s behind Ontario’s weird election campaign: Walkom: May 16 Liberals, Tories and New Democrats are acting out of character. They have their reasons.

And the New Democrats, who have moved equally dramatically [right], are campaigning as wannabe Tories — promising tax cuts to small business and an end to government waste.

Andrea is not out of character. She is following Jack Latyon’s idea to expand the NDP tent to include centrist voters the red-Tory Liberals abandoned. She plans on reducing $600-million in waste to fund social spending — which is less than the $1.25-billion Wynne plans to eliminate.

If Andrea was a wannabe Tory — like Wynne — she would offer big corporate tax cuts. Wynne is borrowing $2.4-billion every year to pay out to the rich in corporate tax cuts. Andrea plans on cancelling this failed corporate welfare.

Yet, under Andrea Horwath, the New Democrats were already shifting rightward. In part, they were following the trend of social democratic parties worldwide, from Britain’s Labour under Tony Blair to France’s Socialists under François Hollande.

Actually the Liberal party is the counter-part to the UK Labor party. The NDP is the counter-part to the Lib-Dem party.

The Liberal party has certainly shifted rightward. Over the past 20 years they have become the Brian Mulroney party effecting a neo-liberal agenda. They brought in spending cuts and corporate tax cuts Mulroney could only dream of.

► Ontario election campaign prepares for nasty phase: Walkom: May 20 Those blithe enough to think that Liberals and NDP “progressives” could ever coalesce against Stephen Harper should watch this race.

The Tory leader says he won’t use his television ads to demonize the Liberals. In fact, he doesn’t need to. Andrea Horwath’s NDP is doing that job for him.

This is absurdly false. Wynne began “demonizing“ Andrea and Hudak a month before the election with unprecedented pre-budget attack ads. Hudak is certainly running attack ads on Wynne.

Of course, the Liberals don’t like Andrea using the word ’corrupt’ to describe their blatant attempt to buy a majority government in 2011 with $1.1-billion by cancelling unpopular gas plants. But look up the word. It fits the bill.

Indeed, Horwath’s rhetoric has been harsher than Hudak’s.

Andrea criticizes the Liberal government for corruption and waste. If pointing out the Liberal record is harsh, what does that say about the Liberal government?

Hudak adds to that real harsh rhetoric against: “disastrous” pension “job tax,”, College of Trades run by “powerbrokers and special interests that help her get elected”, “ethically distrastrous and morally wrong” corporate welfare. Really?

So far, at least, the NDP are not campaigning as if they expect to form government. They have not issued a platform.

The Liberals released their platform 5 days after Andrea released hers. And Andrea didn’t have government resources at her disposal.

If they can crush the Liberals and become official opposition to a majority Hudak Tory government, they will be ecstatic.

What sewer did Walkom crawl down to dig this one up? But will the Liberals and Toronto Star be estatic if they crush the NDP and weasel a majority? Or do they just feel entitled to power?

► What Andrea Horwath’s election platform says about the NDP: Walkom: May 23 The Ontario NDP is business-friendly, fiscally sober, socially concerned and a bit to the right of Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals

Andrea Horwath’s seven-page election platform is more of a talisman than a blueprint for power. This is not to disparage the Ontario New Democratic Party leader. Most NDP voters would be shocked if Horwath became premier after the June 12 election.

Speak for yourself.

Instead of taking Walkom’s “non-disparaging”, “fair and balanced” summary of Andrea’s platform, look for yourself here. You can also compare Andrea’s and Wynne’s platforms for yourself.

It’s no surprise that Horwath and Wynne come to the same conclusion here. The NDP platform accepts as given all of the government’s fiscal premises. It then adds and subtracts around the edges to come up with a near-identical scenario.

So Andrea’s platform is a joke, but apparently identical to Wynne’s platform, which is a serious document… Yeah right.

First, they are not the old New Democrats. In fact, they are so unlike them that a group of 34 high-profile NDP supporters (including former Starcolumnist Michele Landsberg) has taken the unusual step of publicly threatening to break with the party.

According to Abacus Data: ‘Horwath very popular with NDP core voters. 72% have a positive impression.’ No doubt, the 34 disgruntled social democrats were happier when the NDP languished in the polls under Howard Hampton and Alexa McDonough. Come to think of it, so were partisan Liberals!

Like federal NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, Horwath has gone out of her way to portray her party as market-oriented and business-friendly.

Certainly not as much as the Wynne or Trudeau Liberals who can’t say enough good things about big corporate tax cuts that don’t create jobs, boost GDP or bolster productivity growth. Andrea and Tom will cancel these failed and costly tax cuts for the rich.

► Why Ontario Tories and NDP are upping their anti-Wynne rhetoric: Walkom: May 27 Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath are desperate to remind voters why they should hate the Liberals

The New Democrats accuse her of belonging to a “corrupt” government.

What word would Liberals prefer Andrea use to describe a government mired in scandals, including a botched attempt to buy a majority government with $1.1-billion of taxpayer money?

The NDP says it would cut $600 million a year and also won’t say how.

The Liberals say they would cut $1.25-billion a year and won’t say how. Guess they must be twice as flaky.

Indeed, a major debate within the NDP now is whether the party has become simply a variant of the Liberals.

No the NDP of Jack Latyon, Andrea Horwath and Tom Mulcair is left-leaning Keynesian.

The Liberals are the Brian Mulroney party favoring Tough Tory Times for the little people and big free-money tax cuts for the wealthy.

Disgruntled New Democrats, including 34 who wrote an open letter to Horwath last week, say the NDP has moved to the right of the Liberals.

Looks like they were fooled by reading too much Toronto Star propaganda.

A comparison of Andrea’s and Wynne’s platforms clearly puts the NDP to the left of Wynne — even with her recent “left-lurching” agenda-driven budget.

Both Hudak and Horwath know that if they are to succeed, they must do more than attack the Liberal platform. They must brutally and deliberately bring Wynne down.

Clearly The Star is projecting here. They believe if they are to succeed — in securing Wynne a fake majority government — they must brutally and deliberately bring Horwath down.

But Andrea does not sink to their level. She criticizes the Liberal record. If that is "brutal" what does that say about the Liberal record?

► Gang of 34 letter points to real problems within Horwath’s NDP: Walkom: May 28 Andrea Horwath’s NDP critics aren’t just champagne socialists. They’re onto something.

Andrea Horwath’s NDP critics aren’t just champagne socialists. They’re onto something.

Yeah, no one knows how real social democrats think more than agenda-driven partisan Liberals!

Or, to put it another way: If the NDP simply wants to be a right-wing version of the Liberal Party, what is the point of voting New Democrat? Why not vote Liberal. Or Conservative?

This is a laugh. Andrea’s platform is clearly to the left of Wynne’s platform — without the "campaign left, govern right" ploy.

The NDP is actually expanding its tent to include centrist voters abandoned by the Liberals after 20 years of red-Tory leadership.

If the NDP was a right-wing version of the Liberal party, they would be the Conservative party.

They are creating a left-leaning centrist party like the Pearson-Douglas government and the Peterson-Rae government. There are a lot of reasons a lot of voters would want to get behind that.

In its rush to the centre, can the NDP remain different from other parties? If it can’t, why should voters bother with it?

Andrea’s NDP are the real deal. Real progressive-centrist. Unlike Wynne, Andrea is not pretending to be left so she can win all the power and govern from the right.

► Why Ontario’s NDP might back a Hudak minority government: Walkom: May 30 A post-election deal between Andrea Horwath’s NDP and Tim Hudak’s Tories isn’t out of the question.

This has got to be the sleaziest of the bunch — and that’s saying a lot.

The goal was to manufacture a scandal right before advance polls opened up — real upstanding fourth-estate service.

In the interview, Andrea refused to speculate on anything until the election results are in. As she later pointed out, she’s running to be the premier not the balance of power.

Walkom spins this proper response into a likely coalition with Tim Hudak, even though both parties are light-years away on the issues. When it comes to taking some one out of context, it doesn’t get any more treacherous than this.

The smear piece had the desired effect of generating headlines. A non-issue was manufactured into a major story just as advanced polls opened. Of the 25 pieces The Star published to weasel left-leaning votes for a Wynne majority, this was probably the most successful.

If Walkom gets laid off from The Star due to cutbacks, he would fit right in at Sun News. Could even get his own hour-long cable show! Neo-con? Neo-liberal? What’s the difference as long as you’re getting paid?

Martin Regg Cohn: 9

► Ontario’s wild-card spring election: Cohn: May 2 At the end of the day — or about 41 days of campaigning — will voters cast their ballots by choosing between the ghosts of McGuinty, Harris and Rae?

At the end of the day — or about 41 days of campaigning — will voters cast their ballots by choosing between the ghosts of McGuinty, Harris and Rae?

Hudak is worse than Harris. Wynne was involved in McGuinty’s corruption and waste. Andrea is a moderate, not a reckless ideologue like Rae was when premier of Ontario.

But this is the new New Democratic Party (nNDP), a once-progressive movement remade as a populist party in Horwath’s pragmatic image:

A once-ignored progressive movement that achieved nothing while the Liberals and Cons moved the country further and further to the right.

In a democracy compromises must be made one way or another. Offering relief to struggling families being gouged by Liberal cuts, fees, regressive taxes and endless hydro hikes is not corrupt or wrong. It’s giving people what they need and deserve.

More scandal-mongering than substantive. More anti-tax than the Tories. And more fixated on the putative gravy train panacea than Rob Ford himself (Horwath’s two favourite talking points are high salaries for public servants and chauffeurs for cabinet ministers).

Andrea’s platform is much bigger than the failed Liberal record. Being opposed to failed corporate tax cuts we’re borrowing $2.4-billion a year is sensible. Cutting the HST on a necessity like electricity, is clearly not more anti-tax than Hudak.

Andrea is clearly opposed to the slash-and-burn approach of neo-cons like Ford, Hudak and Harper. Fact is, Wynne proposes $1.25-billion in cuts to waste — double what Andrea proposes.

Will the election of 2014 really be fought over a footnote to 2011?

LOL. Will trying to buy a majority government with $1.1-billion of taxpayer money ever seriously be considered a "footnote"?

Will voters cast their ballots by choosing between the ghosts of McGuinty, Harris and Rae? By June 12 they are more likely to look forward, by taking a hard look at what’s on offer from Wynne, Hudak and Horwath.

Will voters double down on trickle down? Will voters double down on corruption and incompetence? Or will voters go for moderate change that will provide real relief from 11 years of getting gouged by entitled Liberal elites?

► Kathleen Wynne must put Dalton McGuinty behind her: Cohn: May 4 With the stench of a gas plant scandal still wafting over Queen’s Park, Kathleen Wynne must clear the air or be claimed by the fallout.

Curiously for a New Democrat, she eschews policy pronouncements, plays down progressive proposals, and denounces taxation that pays for vital social programs (other than “modest” corporate tax hikes).

Andrea certainly didn’t denounce any taxation that Wynne put forward: Wynne rejected the gas tax, the HST hike, the road tolls. Andrea supports Wynne’s $600-million income tax hike on the top 2%. She adds to that: canceling $760-million in Liberal corporate tax cuts for the rich.

Announcing her decision to defeat the spring budget, which read very much like an NDP budget, Horwath wouldn’t say what she disagreed with, just that Wynne wasn’t as trustworthy as the NDP to get the job done.

Andrea certainly disagreed about corporate taxes, the minimum wage not being high enough, daycare spaces and endless hydro-rate hikes gouging low- and mid-income families.

Horwath will present herself as the most trustworthy, the populist politician with the invisible agenda — details to come.

Andrea has been talking policy for years. Her full platform is out. compare hers to Wynne’s platforms for yourself to find out who the real progressive is in this race — not the one pretending to be, to weasel an unearned majority government.

► Why Andrea Horwath’s NDP ‘Make Sense’ tour doesn’t: Cohn: May 7 The wheels aren’t quite falling off the NDP campaign bus, but Andrea Horwath won’t get a free ride anymore.

But the Liberals and Tories gained a head-start, while the New Democrats lost traction (even though the NDP had advance notice of the election, which Horwath had set in motion).

Actually Wynne had the head start. She had government resources to put together her “left-lurching” budget. She began campaigning a month before the election, with a string of spending leaks and attack ads. Her government fell because it was corruption, waste and broken promises.

Support and power are earned. Liberals are not entitled to their entitlements.

Undeterred, she pressed ahead with an astonishing promise to “lower hydro rates in the province.” Not even the anti-hydro Tories claim they can reverse those rapidly rising costs, which is why they promise only to slow the rate of growth.

Absurd nonsense. Hudak claims high hydro rates killed 300,000 jobs and his rate cuts will get back 40,000 lost jobs. The Liberals are the only ones with a cavalier attitude towards never ending rate hikes.

Let’s face the facts: over the past 11 years, the Liberals have completely botched the electricity file. They have no idea what they’re doing.

Second, a “modest” increase in corporate taxes that will save “middle class” voters from ever having to pay any taxes or tolls thanks to a new “partnership” between New Democrats and big business.

The Liberals are the ones with the partnership with big business. There top priority is wasteful corporate tax cuts they are borrowing to pay for. Andrea will reverse these tax cuts by $760-million/yr. In fact, Canada has lowest corporate tax rate among ALL major economies according to KPMG. The corporations pocket the free money. The Liberals give them more.

Wynne certainly didn’t put any tax hikes or tolls in her platform. Or is that a hidden agenda?

► Tories take a hard right turn thanks to NDP enablers: Cohn: May 12 Public servants could be run over as the Tory campaign bus gains momentum with Tim Hudak at the wheel. How did they become roadkill?

The title of this column could not be more baseless or absurd.

What to do? Who will protect them from a Hudak majority?

Liberals won’t protect us from a Hudak majority trying to fear-monger left votes for their own fake majority.

Hudak needs 40% of RIGHT-leaning voters to win a majority. None of those votes will come from the left side.

If anything, Wynne’s strategy to trying and out-left the NDP, puts the province in danger of a Hudak majority.

And how will her third-place party, holding a mere 21 seats in the 107-seat legislature, realistically win another 30-plus ridings — more than doubling its seat count — to thwart the Tories?

Realistically, election results are determined by voters — despite Liberal delusions they are entitled to power.

Horwath would have you believe she has outmanoeuvred Hudak, luring him into showing his true colours so that she can wrestle him to the mat and drive the Liberals into the ground. But there is an alternative ending to this election story that reverses their roles — and in this narrative it is Hudak who outsmarts Horwath .

This is a case of fiction being stranger than fact. Hudak was a revolutionary neo-con right from the start. He was actually forced by his caucus to abandon his right-to-work gambit.

For two years he taunted the New Democrats for propping up a tarnished Liberal minority government, and this month the taunting paid off: He finally goaded Horwath into ditching Wynne’s Liberals, possibly clearing the way for his majority.

Either that or Wynne goaded Horwath into ditching her budget with attack ads and ultimatums — not to mention cutting the NDP out of the budget process.

The unanswered question of this election may haunt Horwath until the end: Did the New Democrats go from being Liberal enablers to Tory enablers?

More weasel words. Over the past 30 years the Liberals have been actual neo-con enablers.

The neo-cons bring in reckless ’starve the beast’ tax cuts. The Liberals cement them in place. Each cycle the country gets ratcheted further and further to the right — as the economy goes down the tubes.

The NDP are not enablers of any of this. They offer the only true alternative to it!

► All three leaders appear to be in a dream world: Cohn: May 16 The emerging political platforms in the Ontario election have a fantasy quality unseen since Harry Potter enchanted children with wizardry and incantations.

She’s also repeating her discredited pledge from the 2011 campaign to take the HST off hydro bills (but only the provincial portion of 8 per cent, not the 5 per cent federal share). Not even Hudak is playing the old HST game anymore.

Discredited how? The BC Liberals did not put the HST on electricity? Why? Because the HST is a consumption tax and necessities are excluded. Not surprising Liberal elites believe electricity is a luxury item.

Horwath also wants to cut business taxes, albeit for small companies, not larger ones. This is more about politics than economics, running counter to academic research that shows such incentives reward only companies that stay small (lest they be taxed at a higher rate), discouraging them from achieving the economies of scale needed for global export markets.

The problem is that the Liberals and neo-cons have been slashing corporate taxes for so long Canada now has the lowest corporate tax rate of ALL major economies/ Of course this did nothing for the economy. All it did was fatten the stock portfolios of the well-off.

That’s why the Liberals and neo-cons didn’t care about small business taxes: it wasn’t in their self-interest to cut them. So the NDP is leveling the playing field by giving small businesses a break. They believe they are a major contributor to job creation. This will cost $290-million/yr or about one tenth of the Liberal $2.4-billion/yr in failed corporate tax cuts.

Minor tax differences will not stop a small business from growing into a corporation if it can. That’s pure nonsense.

The NDP is at its most unrestrained on restraint. Counter-intuitively, Horwath announced this week that she would save money by spending money — creating a new Ministry of Savings and Accountability to cut back the bureaucracy. That role is normally played by the finance minister, who has the clout to play Doctor No with his free-spending cabinet colleagues. The NDP wants to re-imagine the process.

Given all the waste the Liberals produced with this process, clearly it needs to be reimagined… Better to prevent waste than read about it in an Auditor-General’s report…

► How Andrea Horwath’s NDP lost its moral compass: Cohn: May 23 Behold the NDP’s populist platform. Under Andrea Horwath, the party is no longer activist but obstructionist. Not progressive but reactionary.

Andrea Horwath, meet Stephen Harper — your new best friend and fellow traveller. Until this week, the prime minister loomed as the biggest roadblock to improving our outdated Canada Pension Plan and fending off a retirement income crisis. Now, Harper has found a new comrade-in-arms in his crusade to delay pension reform:
As leader of Ontario’s NDP, Horwath has made a stunning about-face on pensions — betraying the middle class, working class, and everyone in between.

What ridiculous rhetoric. What next? Andrea worships Hitler?

First off, Andrea is not opposed to pension reform. She believes, like all other provinces, it’s best to wait until the 2015 federal election before proceeding.

Second, Wynne’s half-baked pension plan is regressive. According to Maclean’s, it’s great for high-income but terrible for low-income. It will force low-income to pay for benefits they will not receive. For every $2 they pay in, they will only get back $1.

Like the federal Liberal EI reforms, this is just another Liberal elitist scam: forcing low income earners to pay for the benefits of the well-off.

Her latest platform merely apes Hudak’s anti-tax Tory ideology by promising to take the HST off hydro bills (in fact, federal rules prevent any unilateral changes to the harmonized sales tax).

Hudak plans to dole out $3.5-billion a year to the rich in corporate tax cuts. If anything, Andrea is aping the BC Liberals who excluded electricity from the HST. Fact is low-income earners get hit the hardest by skyrocketing electricity rates.

And she has embraced Rob Ford’s anti-gravy train mythology by proposing a new “minister of savings and accountability” (with no extra staff) to produce savings of $600 million a year.

All nonsense aside, the Liberals propose cutting $1.25-billion a year a year in bureaucratic waste. Wynne must really luv embracing RoFo!

► Warm-up Ontario election debate previews NDP’s attack strategy: Cohn: May 26 Andrea Horwath’s volleys at Kathleen Wynne over the Liberal gas plant scandal didn’t resonate much with northern Ontario listeners, but they were aimed at a much broader audience.

Here up north, there weren’t any questions from the floor about gas plants. That didn’t stop Horwath from trying to transform an infamous footnote to the 2011 campaign into the main event of the 2014 election.

Was the $250-million Ad Scam scandal a “footnote” of the 1995 referendum? How on Earth is abusing $1.1-billlion in a corrupt attempt to buy a majority government a “footnote.” Don’t be absurd.

As a headline-grabbing strategy, it certainly put Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne on the defensive. As a warm-up for the main June 3 televised debate, it was a revealing preview of Horwath on the attack — refusing to look at her opponent throughout the 60-minute debate, staring unsmilingly at the audience whenever Wynne spoke.

This "unbiased" characterization is belied by a common picture of the debate that shows Andrea looking at her opponent.

For most of the northerners in the room, Horwath’s detour down south failed to resonate. She performed like an opposition leader who heads Ontario’s third party, not a premier-in-waiting with a distinctive, progressive vision of her own for the province.

That’s the Liberal war room version. Here’s a critique with no apparent axe to grind.

Horwath was equally unpersuasive when she professed fealty to balanced budgets, saying: “That is the history of my political party, frankly,” she offered, seemingly forgetting the 1990-95 NDP era.

According to the CCPA, the NDP has the best fiscal record of all parties.

► How Kathleen Wynne righted Liberal wrongs by lurching left: Cohn: May 28 Expect pain no matter who wins power. Pick your poison — progressive with Wynne, populist with Horwath, or perilous with Hudak.

The answer is that after barely a year as premier, she had the good sense to right Liberal wrongs by taking a deft left turn on the campaign trail. In her wake, New Democrats are going in policy circles….

Andrea offers low- and mid-income Ontarians real relief from 11 years of Liberal gouging: service cuts, user fees, eco fees, regressive taxes and endless hydro hikes. That is not going in circles: it’s going right to the heart of the matter.

The problem with Wynne’s sudden left turn is that not only is it out of character for the red-Tory Liberals Ontarians have grown weary of, it’s likely nothing more than a campaign strategy like McGuinty used in 2011: campaign left, govern right.

A fake left turn may be deft in weaseling votes, but it sure doesn’t right Liberal wrongs.

Just as Hudak’s math doesn’t add up, and Horwath’s contortions don’t make sense, Wynne’s numbers likely won’t hold up after the ballots are counted.

Talk about contortions: from Wynne somehow righting Liberal wrongs lurching left to make empty promises she’ll abandon soon as the votes are counted!

Andrea expanding the NDP tent to include centrist voters disillusioned with red-Tory Liberals, however, makes a lot of sense.

There will be pain no matter who wins power. Pick your poison — progressive with Wynne, populist with Horwath, or perilous with Hudak.

Both the Liberals and PCs have proven they believe in “pain” for the little people and big, expensive corporate tax cuts for the wealthy. Thankfully Andrea makes people her priority.

► How Andrea Horwath’s NDP tried to leapfrog the Liberals: Cohn Why has Andrea Horwath recast herself as a tax fighter, crime fighter and pension postponer? Is it NDP oppositionism, opportunism, or both?

Strangely, there’s no mention of a pension plan in her campaign game plan. Horwath now opposes the public pension contained in the spring budget (the one she summarily rejected, triggering the June 12 election).

Wynne’s half-baked pension plan is regressive according to Maclean’s. It’s good for high-income. Bad for low-income: will make them pay $2 for every $1 they receive.

The same obstructionist pattern is evident on other social justice issues. When anti-poverty activists campaigned for a $14 minimum wage last year, Horwath ignored their calls for support — lest she antagonize small business. Not until the Liberals raised the rate from $10.25 to $11 an hour did Horwath belatedly go through the motions of demanding a hike to $12 — after the fact.

So Andrea is wrong for not supporting a too-high rate of $14/hr and also wrong for not supporting a too-low rate of $11/hr. I think we can call this an bullshit pattern.

Why has Horwath recast herself as a tax fighter, crime fighter and pension postponer? Is it reflexive oppositionism or merely opportunism?

Tax fighter? I think that title clearly goes to Wynne who borrows $2.4-billion a year for corporate tax cuts that do nothing for the economy while Canada has the lowest corporate tax rate among ALL major economies.

Crime fighter? I think abusing $1.1-billion of taxpayer dollars in a shallow attempt to buy a majority government should be a crime punishable by time. Unfortunately, it is not.

Pension postponer? Wynne’s half-baked regressive pension most certainly deserved to be postponed.

Horwath is rethinking her positions in order to thwart the vision laid out in Kathleen Wynne’s latest budget — sacrificing pension reform, higher wages for the working poor, welfare hikes and a transit plan.

Rejecting Wynnes regressive pension plan, waiting until 2015 to proceed, like the other provinces. Offering higher wages for the poor. Indexing welfare and disability rates to inflation — Wynne’s fake hike was lower than the inflation rate. Supporting $29-billion transit plan recommended by the Transit Investment Strategy Advisory Panel &mdah; not the Liberal party!

Can the NDP’s electoral contortions win the progressive vote and woo Progressive Conservative voters?

All rhetocial contortions aside, Andrea, like Jack Latyon, is expanding the NDP tent to include centrist voters red-Tory Liberals have abandoned. Her platform is left of Wynne’s. And, unlike Wynne, she is not campaigning left to govern right with a hidden agenda of “pain.”

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