Tim Hudak’s election platform remincient of Mike Harris’ Common Sense Revolution

Andy Radia
·Politics Reporter

It's from a very different decade, but Ontario Progressive Conservative party leader Tim Hudak seems to borrowing — heavily — from the playbook of former Premier Mike Harris and his so-called Common Sense Revolution.

On Wednesday, Hudak published his full election platform ahead of the spring provincial election.

Like the 1990's Common Sense Revolution, it includes a bevy of conservative favourites: tax cuts, balanced budgets and a trimming of the public sector.

"Every single one of these policies went through a single lens – does it lead to new and better jobs?" Hudak, who was a cabinet minister in the Harris government, said in a statement.

"We need a million more jobs because too many young people can’t get started on a career and because too many workers have lost their jobs and cannot find work."

[ More Ontario election coverage: Unions mobilizing against Ontario PC leader Tim Hudak ]

Similarly the Common Sense Resolution — Harris' election platform in 1995 — emanated from Harris' desire to create 725,000 jobs.

Cutting corporate taxes

TIM HUDAK'S PLAN

COMMON SENSE REVOLUTION

̶ Reduce corporate taxes by 30 per cent

̶ Cutting pay roll taxes saving small businesses approx. $400 million.

Cutting personal taxes

TIM HUDAK'S PLAN

COMMON SENSE REVOLUTION

̶ Reduce personal taxes by 10 per cent, after the budget is balanced, phased-in over four years

̶ Reduce personal taxes by 30 per cent over three years

An aggressive jobs plan

TIM HUDAK'S PLAN

COMMON SENSE REVOLUTION

̶ A vow to create 1 million jobs over eight years

̶ A vow to create 725,000 jobs over five years

Balancing the budget

TIM HUDAK'S PLAN

COMMON SENSE REVOLUTION

̶ A vow to balance the budget (with a deficit of $11.5 billion) in 2 years

̶ A vow to balance the budget (with a deficit of $11.2 billion) in 5 years

Cutting jobs in the public sector

TIM HUDAK'S PLAN

COMMON SENSE REVOLUTION

̶ Eliminating 100,000 jobs in the public sector coupled with an across the board wage freeze for the public sector

̶ Trimming the provincial bureaucracy by 15 per cent or 13,000 employees

Smaller government

TIM HUDAK'S PLAN

COMMON SENSE REVOLUTION

̶ Cutting eight ministers from cabinet

̶ A 24 per cent cut in the number of MPPs

Cuts in Spending

TIM HUDAK'S PLAN

COMMON SENSE REVOLUTION

̶ A cut in program spending by six per cent over the next four years except on health care

̶ A plan to reduce non-essential government spending by 20 per cent. Health care, education and law enforcement would be spared.

Battling the labour unions

TIM HUDAK'S PLAN

COMMON SENSE REVOLUTION

̶ Requiring more transparency from unions while allowing union members the right to a secret ballot in certification votes

̶ "Democratize" unions by introducing secret balloting for certification and strike votes

As you can see from the top-line policies, above,there are a lot of similarities in both plans.

There are also some differences, however: Harris's plan aggressively tackled welfare reform and pushed city governments to find efficiencies and eliminate duplication.

[ Related: Hudak's aggressively-conservative policies showing signs of support from public ]

While Harris wasn't able to implement all of his policies,voters in this election might want to check to see how the Harris plan worked in practice.

This 2011 explanation by the Canadian Press sums of the Harris era perfectly:

What followed [Harris' 1995 election victory] were some of the most divisive, in-your-face politics the province had ever seen, as Harris -- dubbed Chainsaw Mike -- took an axe to taxes as well as to spending on welfare and a host of other government programs and services.

Detractors loathed him with a passion that at times sparked violent protests. Supporters loved the approach: re-electing him in 1999 with a slightly increased share of the popular vote.

Ultimately, a powerful anti-Tory backlash -- fuelled partly by the Walkerton water tragedy of May 2000 -- thrust the Liberals under McGuinty into office in 2003.

For his part, Harris has a few regrets.

"If I had to do it all over again, I would have tried to do more and I would have tried to do it more rapidly," the former premier told a business audience in 2002, according to the National Post.

"I wish we had cut taxes faster. I wish we had balanced the budget sooner. I wish we had increased education standards higher, changed labour law more rapidly, lowered workers' compensation premiums even more dramatically while improving workplace safety standards."

Ontarians go to the polls on June 12th.

(Photo courtesy of The Canadian Press)

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