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The Hamilton Spectator
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Wednesday September 7, 2011
The Ontario Liberal party unveiled its latest platform Monday in a bid to win a third straight majority under Premier Dalton McGuinty. It's a mix of boasting about perceived successes, excuses for failures (don't blame us, blame the recession and Mike Harris) and pledges of new goodies to come if the Liberals are re-elected. Underlying the platform, though, is the key issue of the 2011 campaign: Do Ontario voters still trust the Liberals?

The Liberals clearly think they've earned that trust. The 58-page platform is largely given over to self-congratulatory recaps of the terrific things the Liberals believe they've achieved, wrapped around a handful of new pledges, most of which are vague (creating a program to "celebrate, support and promote local food") or benign in the extreme (if your GO train is late, you won't have to pay). What promises there are - including lower tuition for most university students and money for seniors to help them stay in their homes - would produce new annual spending of $1.5-billion after four years. It's a positively miserly proposal from a government that raised Ontario's annual spending from $74.5-billion in 2003 to $121.1-billion in 2011, an increase of nearly 63%.

The result is a platform that might charitably be described as confused. It claims to be focused on the future, is even titled "Forward. Together" and attacks the Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats for being stuck in the past. But it also gives as much space to praising the Liberal record as explaining what they intend to do next. One page stresses that Ontario will press Ottawa for more federal "support"; the next notes that there's "only one taxpayer." The party derides "the failed approach of slash-and-burn-arbitrary-acrossthe-board cuts." Then promises to cut the civil service by 5%. Continued...

The voters can't trust McGuinty
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