Volume 96, Issue 82
Thursday, March 6, 2003

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EDITORIAL
You down with NDP? Not yet

With an election in Ontario expected to be called for early spring, political parties have begun releasing their political platforms to grab the early attention of voters – and hopefully a few votes as well.

The latest party to outline their platform is the New Democratic Party, who released an 80-page document last week covering a wide array of policy issues.

An NDP government would reduce university tuition by 10 per cent, as well as eliminate the privatization of schools and the deregulation of programs. The party would also create a needs-based grant program to help students attend these institutions.

In other social policy, the party proposes the creation of 20,000 new day care spots in the province, an increase of the minimum wage from $6.85 to $8 and a rent-freeze that would span at least two years.

The NDP have also pledged $2 billion towards public schools, and would set aside three cents of the provincial gas tax to give to cities for transit needs.

To help pay for these new initiatives, the NDP would also create two new tax brackets, for income earners between $100,000 and $150,000 and those making over $150,000. They claim this will bring close to $1.5 billion in extra revenue. Overall, spending would increase by $6 billion in Ontario.

No word yet if a cure for every terminal disease in Ontario is imminent.

The NDP claims it would be able to fulfill all their election promises while not running a deficit – something they have said with almost every platform at every election. They are not alone; every political party tows the same "no deficit" line.

Some of the ideas in their platform, while utopian in nature, are quite good – perhaps even realistic. An increase in the minimum wage, lower tuition fees, cheap day care – who could say no?

The biggest problem with the NDP's platform, much like most election platforms, is its failure to provide prioritization or a timeline regarding the implementation of their initiatives. Would we see an immediate jump in the minimum wage and would tuition be lowered 10 per cent the day the party came into office?

The reality of being an aspiring party with lofty ambitions and actually being the government in power are quite different.

The NDP has always been a party that speaks to the social conscience of Canadians, but their ideas often seem too pie-in-the-sky for skeptical voters.

Early polls indicate the coming election may see the formation of a minority Liberal government, in which the NDP may hold the balance of power. If this is the case, the NDP should be able to use their leverage to push for some of their policy ambitions – without having to answer questions of practicality. The province would be a better place if some of their platform ideas see the light of day.

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2002 THE GAZETTE