The politicians and party supporters were in high spirits, as any government would be if they were about midway through a second mandate in which they won an even bigger majority than in the first. That is not a common occurrence in politics, and the PCs are rightly proud of their record. Photo Credit: Twitter/Doug Ford.
The first policy conference of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party since the pandemic took place this past weekend in Niagara Falls last weekend. The politicians and party supporters were in high spirits, as any government would be if they were about midway through a second mandate in which they won an even bigger majority than in the first. That is not a common occurrence in politics, and the PCs are rightly proud of their record.
Many of the speeches made by politicians and policy discussions centred around the Ford government’s economic record, and how they had recovered many businesses and jobs for Ontario since the destruction of the economy under the McGuinty and Wynne Liberal governments. Another issue that came up frequently was how much the Ford government had reduced red tape for businesses and individuals with such things as streamlining business licenses, facilitating the qualification of the skilled trades, eliminating the cost for auto license plate stickers and putting a number of government services online, among other things.
One additional issue raised with a number of Cabinet Ministers and others was the fact that despite the Conservatives having made some progress on a number of issues, there still remained much to do for Ontario to become a truly competitive jurisdiction for business once again. Electricity prices remain high compared to U.S. states and taxes are still much higher in Canada. Companies from Ontario continue to either move to the U.S. or establish new facilities in the U.S. while leaving some parts of their operation in Ontario, so they have a good idea of the different business conditions in various jurisdictions.
Another issue raised was the fact that Ontario remains one of the few provinces where all personal income tax brackets are not indexed to inflation. In Ontario, it is the top two tax brackets that are still not adjusted for inflation. Taxes that do not take into account the impact of inflation are pure thievery, as taxes increase despite the fact that the real income of the taxpayer has not increased. If any jurisdiction wants to attract the professionals and entrepreneurs that are likely to be earning those higher incomes, they need to fix this problem.
In Ontario, the two top income tax brackets are applied at $150,000 and $220,000. These are not exactly Warren Buffet levels of income, to put it mildly. The income tax rate that is applied in Ontario – part of which is federal tax – comes in at 53.53 per cent. So more than half of what someone at this income level earns ends up going to governments – which is outrageous. There didn’t seem to be any willingness to do something about this unfair and damaging rate of taxation, and some MPPs with were not even aware that Ontario had income tax levels not adjusted by the rate of inflation.
A number of Jewish attendees to the conference put on a Shabbat dinner on Friday evening. This author was fortunate enough to be invited to this lovely event, which was sponsored by MPP Michael Kerzner, current Solicitor General for Ontario. One of the speakers was a woman whose cousin is still being held hostage by Hamas, and she had a heartbreaking story to tell. We non-Jews have no idea how frightened the Jewish community is right now by the appalling increase in anti-Semitism we see in our communities every day. It is something that should not be happening in Canada ever, and this dinner brought home that message very clearly.
As we were in Niagara, many attendees came up to me and commented on how they enjoyed this author’s columns in the Niagara Independent, and how they liked the newspaper in general.
Another discussion that took place frequently was the next Ontario election, which is still over two years away. The Conservatives are confident about winning that contest, although two years is a very long time in which things can change dramatically. Based on the situation right now, however, the Conservatives do have a very good shot at a third majority mandate. The Liberals are still recovering from their historic defeat in 2018, and even though they have a new leader in Bonnie Crombie, it will take some time for that party to rebuild. The relatively new NDP leader, Marit Stiles, has not exactly been strong either since her taking over the leadership in February of last year.
All current indications are that the Conservatives will indeed win another majority mandate in 2026, barring any unexpected tumultuous events. Although there remains much to do in the province, the Conservatives have made some good progress and seem determined to continue on this path going forward. This is good news for business and other Ontarians.
She has published numerous articles in journals, magazines & other media on issues such as free trade, finance, entrepreneurship & women business owners. Ms. Swift is a past President of the Empire Club of Canada, a former Director of the CD Howe Institute, the Canadian Youth Business Foundation, SOS Children’s Villages, past President of the International Small Business Congress and current Director of the Fraser Institute. She was cited in 2003 & 2012 as one of the most powerful women in Canada by the Women’s Executive Network & is a recipient of the Queen’s Silver & Gold Jubilee medals.