Local government is such a part of one's life, that you're involved in local politics whether you want to be or not. National politics is rife with drama, with governmental ministers taking turns screwing up and causing a ruckus in the House of Commons and on the television news.
But provincial politics fleets through one's mind, maybe when zoning out as the provincial affairs reporter reports on the latest doings in the Pink Palace, aka Queen's Park, Ontario's legislature. But these days provincial politics is catching my attention.
I keep forgetting we have a minority government, that the McGuinty Liberals can't do whatever they want to like the Conservatives are nationally in the House. This budget has rudely reminded me.
The Liberals tabled their cutting budget, which seems to have forgotten about raising revenues through stimulating new industries, new kinds of jobs. The provincial Progressive Conservatives thought it would be a good idea to return to the Harris ideology, booted out John Tory as leader, and elected Tim Hudak. Hudak is so brilliant, he categorically rejected the budget. If I heard right, I don't think he even looked at it before rejecting it.
Yup, he sure has the finger on the pulse of exhausted voters, who are not pleased at the idea of yet another election. i mean, how many of these blasted things can we endure? Hudak thinks that for the sake of electing a Progressive Conservative government into power, we'll trip happily to the polls when we'd rather be planting flowers and sitting outside with a beer.
And so that leaves the pragmatic wisdom of the NDP Leader Andrea Horwath to save us. First off, she consulted the people by asking them to phone in or go to a special website and tell her what they want. I missed the answer, but I assume it was the obvious: no effing election, thank you. I assume it because she proposed an amendment to the budget: increase income tax by 2 percent on the very rich, the ones who earn more than half a million dollars, the one percent as the Occupy movement had it, so that the one percent through increasing provincial revenues will help the poorest through social programs. And get rid of the HST on home heating, she added.
Oh my God, is it possible my heating bills will shrink by about 13 percent?! I can barely hope. The well-off punditry whose spouses probably take care of the bills, opine that this is a gimmick. Since when is 13 percent a gimmick? That's a good chunk of change on a $2,000 plus bill, thank you very much. So much for the Occupy movement where activists reminded us all that too many of us have trouble paying our bills and earning a decent income. No, apparently, the opiners are of the opinion we're all so well off that 13 percent is chump change and a gimmick by Horwath.
Luckily, Horwath has her eye solidly on the reality of Ontario being a have-not province and what that means to too many Ontarians. She hasn't forgotten that many of us cannot handle the HST on home heating and that heating is practically a right in a northern climate where being unable to pay for heat means freezing (to death). I can attest to that. Despite the fact that Enbridge can't turn off my gas during the winter months and despite the fact it's been a non-winter, I still kept my thermostat down low on as many days as I could stand it. Keeping it down for me means being more tired than I already am as my body struggles to maintain its body temperature. So to Horwath I say: go! keep it up! don't stop until you get that damn HST off my heating bill!!