Liberals take aim at both NDP, Tories; Hudak proposes business tax cut

Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak greets employees at Ranfar Steel Ltd. while campaigning in Courtice, Ont. on Saturday, May 10, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

Allison Jones, The Canadian Press

TORONTO - NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is the target of a new Liberal attack ad, but even “more of a scare” is the prospect of a Tim Hudak government, the Ontario Liberals said Saturday.

The Progressive Conservative leader rolled out a new plank of his jobs platform Saturday, promising to create 120,000 jobs by reducing the corporate tax rate. His announcement comes a day after he pledged to cut 100,000 public sector jobs.

The Liberals have been critical of those proposed job cuts, but their new 30-second spot, voiced by Premier Kathleen Wynne, takes aim at the NDP. It shows left-wing-friendly proposals from the Liberal budget that Horwath said she would not support and Wynne asks, “Is Andrea Horwath for real?”

The budget included promises for a provincial pension plan, levies to raise billions of dollars for public transit, roads and bridges, billions more for corporate grants, a minimum wage hike and higher taxes for individuals earning more than $150,000.

But Horwath said she had lost confidence in Wynne and the province’s minority Liberals and couldn’t prop up a government that has been the focus of scandal after scandal.

At a campaign event Saturday in Brampton, Horwath turned the ad’s attack against the Liberals.

“What I think is not real is a budget that promises 70 new plans, new initiatives, when the government couldn’t even get three ones done from last year,” she said, referring to an auto insurance rate cut, financial accountability oversight and home care improvement.

Wynne took a day off from campaigning Saturday, but Finance Minister Charles Sousa stood in to roll out the new attack ad and deliver a one-two punch to the Liberals’ opponents. Horwath’s decision raised the prospect of a “radical” Hudak government, he said.

Sousa spoke of the “terrible choice made by Andrea Horwath and the alternative, which is more of a scare, and that would be Tim Hudak.”

“The Hudak PC’s agenda for cuts and labour wars gets more radical and more dangerous by the day,” Sousa said.

Sousa criticized Hudak’s plan to cut 100,000 public sector jobs as a way to help eliminate the $12.5-billion deficit by 2016, saying it’s contrary to his pledge to create jobs.

Hudak announced Saturday that he would create 120,000 new jobs in Ontario by reducing corporate taxes by 30 per cent.

To pay for the plan, Hudak said he would replace grants to businesses, which he is calling “corporate welfare,” with the corporate tax reduction.

“The only thing worse than big government is when big government gets into bed with big business — that means you lose,” Hudak said.

The Progressive Conservative leader has said he would create one million jobs in Ontario over eight years, and is adamant his plan to cut public sector jobs would spur job creation in the private sector — though just how that would come about wasn’t immediately detailed.

Horwath said Hudak was peddling a “failed” idea that hasn’t created jobs in the past.

“Tim Hudak is bent on bringing forward more of the same that hasn’t worked,” she said Saturday.

“The Liberals were cutting corporate taxes, we didn’t get jobs from that, we didn’t get investment in Ontario.”

The Liberals’ main adversary in this campaign is not Hudak nor Horwath, rather it’s both, Sousa said.

“The extreme Tea Party thinking that’s about to destroy many parts of other parts of the world, creating the damage that it has, is not to be accepted in this province because we want to be positive,” he said.

“We want to be progressive. Nor can we have reckless spending and tax hikes, because that’s what Andrea Horwath has also proposed in the past. We must be dynamic. We must be competitive. We must find that right balance.”

The Liberals’ ad is out now online and will be broadcast on traditional media starting May 21, once a political advertising blackout ends.

© The Canadian Press, 2014