Is Crombie really a tax-and-spend Liberal?

Ford’s claim that Crombie is a tax-and-spend Liberal holds water. But here’s Ford’s problem: he’s a tax-and-spend politician too. Pictured: Liberal leader Bonnie Crombie. Photo Credit: Bonnie Crombie/X. 

Premier Doug Ford desperately wants Ontarians to believe Bonnie Crombie is a tax-and-spend Liberal who can’t be trusted with Ontario’s finances.  

He’s spent millions of dollars on partisan ads to try to convince voters. 

Should Ontario taxpayers buy Ford’s spin?

First, no one should throw stones in glass houses. Ford has increased Ontario’s debt by more than $80 billion. He also broke his promise to cut income taxes. 

Ford sure isn’t the taxpayer saviour he promised to be.

Still, Crombie has a shot at becoming Ontario’s next premier. Ford isn’t wrong when he says voters should take a close look at Crombie’s record.

Let’s look at three aspects of Crombie’s record as mayor of Mississauga: spending, taxes and debt.

Crombie walked into the mayor’s office in December 2014. In former mayor Hazel McCallion’s last budget, the city’s operating spending was $672 million and the debt was $86.6 million.

In Crombie’s final budget as mayor a decade later, Mississauga’s operating budget increased to $1.2 billion and the debt hit $353 million

That works out to a spending increase of 77 per cent over 10 years. Had spending only increased in line with inflation and population growth, that spending growth would have been cut in half. 

In other words, spending should have been $270 million less than it was in 2024.

No one can point to Crombie’s record and claim she was a penny pincher.

Next, let’s look at the debt. 

Mississauga was debt-free until the year before Crombie became mayor. McCallion handed Crombie a debt of $86.6 million. Over Crombie’s 10 years in office, she borrowed so much money that Mississauga taxpayers’ debt burden passed the $350 million mark. 

Once again, Crombie’s record isn’t one of fiscal restraint.

How about taxes?

Crombie jacked up property taxes and her 10 years of tax hikes can’t be blamed on inflation.

In 2014, Mississauga brought in $393 million in property taxes. By 2024, that number increased to $680 million.

Once again, had property taxes only gone up by the rate of inflation plus population growth, the increase would have been much smaller. Instead of Crombie’s $680 million in 2024, property taxes would have stood at $539 million. 

That means Crombie increased property taxes by $141 million more than inflation and population pressures warranted.  

Based on these numbers, Ford’s claim that Crombie is a tax-and-spend Liberal holds water. 

But here’s Ford’s problem: he’s a tax-and-spend politician too.

Ford has increased government spending at a faster rate than former premier Kathleen Wynne. He’s added more than $80 billion to the province’s debt. And he’s been overtaken by a wave of amnesia when it comes to the popular income tax cuts he promised when first running for office. 

If Ford really wants to run against Crombie by painting her as a reckless spender who likes to increase taxes, he’d better get cooking on establishing a record that shows he can’t be lumped into the same category.

How could Ford do that?

First, balance the books. Ford can’t credibly paint the other candidate as a reckless spender when he’s only balanced the budget once in six tries. 

Second, cut spending. Ford can’t call Crombie out for increasing spending above the rate of inflation plus population growth if he keeps doing the same thing.

Third, cut taxes. If Ford wants to say Crombie likes to hike taxes, he needs to keep his own promise to lighten Ontarians’ tax load. 

That means keeping the PC party’s promise to cut middle-class income taxes, a pledge that’s now old enough to be enrolled in first grade.

Based on the millions of dollars in ad spending, it’s clear Ford considers Crombie a threat. But if he wants to make his argument effective, Ford needs to contrast Crombie’s approach with his. And to make that contrast stick, Ford needs to actually have a genuine contrast to make. 

The election is in two years. Ford better get cracking.

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