OTTAWA – Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak gave the keynote speech at the party convention this evening in Ottawa.
Here is the text of Mr. Hudak’s remarks:
Friends, thank you.
A year ago we came together in Ottawa.
We came together to start getting ready.
We came together in our conviction to bring relief for hardworking Ontario families.
And we came together to get behind a single idea: change.
Friends, we will bring change to Ontario.
Under Dalton McGuinty, this great province is headed down the wrong track.
Under Dalton McGuinty, the economic performance of Ontario has been among the worst of any Canadian province.
Under Dalton McGuinty, the unemployment rate is higher than the Canadian average.
Under Dalton McGuinty, the total tax burden has climbed higher than the rest of Canada.
Under Dalton McGuinty, Ontario has become a have-not province.
Under a Tim Hudak government, taxes will go down for Ontario families.
Under a Tim Hudak government, health and education will be protected, but wasteful gimmicks will be junked.
Under a Tim Hudak government, we’ll protect people who play by the rules – and restore one law for all the people of Ontario, no special favorites, no special deals.
Those are the choices: more failure under McGuinty or more hope under Hudak; more waste under McGuinty or more jobs under Hudak; more taxes under McGuinty or more take-home pay for Ontario families under Hudak.
I ask the parents in this room: Do you have the time to enjoy your families? Or do you find you are working harder and harder – under more and more stress – with nothing to show for it after you have paid your taxes?
I ask the people of GTA: Did you ever imagine you’d hear about home invasions and gangland killings in the place you call home?
I ask the people of eastern Ontario: Who allowed your beautiful border country to become a global center for smuggling and criminal enterprise?
In the years when the Ontario economy was expanding, the McGuinty government made the wrong choices. The McGuinty government chose gimmicks over growth, indulgence over responsibility. Over a decade where the private sector has struggled to grow at all, Dalton McGuinty has inflated Ontario’s government by 77%.
And again and again: Dalton McGuinty raised taxes. He raised taxes even after he signed a pledge not to raise taxes: With Dalton, “put it in writing” isn’t a protection. It’s a temptation.
Right now, Dalton is on another of his spending sprees. Secret deals with unions to raise their pay – and to deceive the people of this province just long enough, or so they hope, to snatch another term before the truth is exposed.
But this government isn’t even good at cover-ups anymore.
And you know how Dalton McGuinty plans to pay for all this secret spending? Of course you know. With another tax increase should he win the next election. In fact, the McGuinty team probably has their next round of tax increases planned already, they just won’t tell you until after October 7.
I have to say to the people of Ontario: there’s no point getting mad at Dalton. Any more than you get mad at raccoons for knocking over the trash cans if you don’t secure the garbage. It’s the raccoon’s nature. It’s what raccoons do. They can’t help it. And of course the raccoons will do it again if they get the chance. Same with Dalton. He’ll raise your taxes. He can’t help it. It’s what he does. And he’ll do it again.
Unless we take precautions.
With Dalton McGuinty the precaution is basic: you put the tax money over here – and you put Dalton over there. As far away as possible.
We need a new approach.
Our Party has taken unprecedented efforts to reach out. We have heard from tens of thousands of Ontario Families through Have Your Say Ontario. Party members have shared their priorities with me and our caucus through Townhall Teleconferences and grassroots workshops.
All of your input has culminated in changebook – our commitment to this province.
We say it’s time for change. Change that gives families the relief they need … the hope they deserve … and the time together they cherish.
We will lower taxes on middle class families: 5% on the first $75,000 of taxable income. That’s two hundred fifty-eight dollars in tax relief for a person earning $70,000.
We’ll allow income-sharing, over $400 in tax relief for a two-income family earning $70,000.
We will double the caregiver tax credit. That’s compassion and it’s the relief families taking care of growing children and aging parents need.
We’re going to cancel Dalton McGuinty’s sneaky eco taxes. These taxes do not improve the environment. They just add to the family burden. Ontarians already pay high electricity prices. They do not need to pay an extra tax on a laptop or an Xbox.
We will remove HST from home heating and hydro bills. And then we will remove the debt retirement charge, the DRC, from your Hydro bill.
If there is one thing that underlines everything wrong with the McGuinty government, it is the Debt Retirement Charge. The charge was imposed in 2002 to pay off Hydro’s residual stranded debt. All of the debt principal was paid in full by 2010. But the charge was not removed! It was extended to 2018.
Can you imagine if a bank did this to you as a credit card customer? You’ve paid off your balance – congratulations – but we’re going to keep hitting you for interest payments anyway? They’d go to jail. But in Dalton McGuinty’s Ontario, it’s just another experiment in creative revenue enhancement.
Under my leadership – it will be gone.
Almost the very first thing the McGuinty government did back in 2003 was hike the basic rate of corporate income tax. Can you imagine a more job-killing policy? I mean – aside from all the other Dalton McGuinty job-killing policies?
We’ll cut the basic business tax rate to 10%.
And just to keep those tax-eating McGuinty raccoons from returning for more … we will strengthen the Taxpayer Protection Act. We will make it the law that the provincial government cannot raise taxes without a clear mandate from the people. Dalton McGuinty would never do that. It’s too embarrassing for a premier who broke his word twice. But I can. And I will.
As we relieve families of tax burdens, we will restrain spending in a responsible way that protects health and education.
We will raise healthcare spending step-by-step over our years in government, with an extra $6 billion arriving each year-by-year four.
We won’t be spending that money the way McGuinty did – to hire Walt Disney world performers to entertain LHIN bureaucrats. In fact, we’ll abolish the LHINs, which have wasted $300 million on unnecessary bureaucracy.
We will institute wait-time guarantees for emergency room care – and hold hospital CEOs accountable for meeting those guarantees.
Excellent healthcare costs money. Ontarians pay the price and pay the price willingly. But we get mad when we are told to pay for fraud. It’s against the law to lend your health card to a friend or relative from another province or another country. But we all know: it happens, and on a huge scale.
Ontario eagerly welcomes visitors and tourists. But if you are coming to Ontario to help yourself to free healthcare with a fake or forged or stolen ID – as far as I’m concerned, the only part of Ontario you should see is the inside of a prison cell.
A Tim Hudak government will crack down on healthcare fraud. We will require that everyone present photo ID if they have the old red-and-white health card.
Education spending will rise too, each and every year of our mandate, with a $2 billion increase in year four.
We will free teachers to teach – give them more authority in their classrooms. We will end the pressure on them to inflate grades. And – so kids can focus on learning we will give them power to ban cellphones from their classrooms.
We will honour and respect their work.
We will work with our teachers to create classrooms in which bullying is never tolerated – and kids are free to go to school without fear.
Beyond health and education, we will work to find 2% in responsible savings throughout the government. That’s two cents on the dollar each year until we get this province’s budget balanced again.
It won’t be easy. I don’t look forward to it. But it must be done – and it can be done smart.
Despite the McGuinty spending spree, Toronto has been rated as having the worst traffic in North America. Not in Canada. In North America. Ottawa drivers face jams everyday where Highway 417 and the 174 converge. In northern Ontario, a single accident can snarl Highways 11 and 17 for hours.
I’m a new dad who sits in traffic like everybody else. For me, traffic jams are personal. They are time stolen from my wife Debbie and our daughter Miller. And every dollar I spend on infrastructure, I’ll spend with this focus: Will this money speed people faster on their way home? Will it move goods faster to create new jobs?
What Ontario can live without, we will live without.
Ontario has almost 630 different Agencies, Boards and Commissions. Every one of them will be reviewed to ensure they are providing good value. Our process will be straightforward. If it works, leave it alone. If it’s broken, fix it. If it cannot justify its existence, it goes.
We will shrink Dalton McGuinty’s bloated public sector and bring public-sector salaries into line with private-sector realities. I believe in paying public servants what is fair. But I also believe in taxing Ontarians no more than is fair.
The McGuinty government seems to want to turn Northern Ontario into a museum or theme park: banning development, killing potential jobs. I see the North not just as scenery to look at, but as a place for families to live, to work, and to achieve their dreams.
We will bring fairness and democracy to our labour law. We will uphold the right to a secret ballot in certification votes. We will introduce pay cheque protection so union members are not forced to pay fees towards political causes they don’t support.
Unions spend more money on Ontario elections than any of our political parties, but with much less transparency. Which means that public-sector collective bargaining in Ontario often puts union leaders on one side of the table – and politicians elected by union money on the other side. Who’s looking out for the taxpayer? Dalton McGuinty can’t do it. I can. I will.
I will work with environmental advocates for a more beautiful and sustainable Ontario. But the environment must never become an excuse for squeezing hard-pressed families – or for cozy deals with favoured government contractors.
In this northern nation, heat is not a luxury. In this industrial province, electricity powers our jobs. For Dalton McGuinty to hike the power bills of ordinary families so that he can pay higher prices to special favorites – it’s a rip-off and it’s wrong.
That is why we will end the $7 billion sweetheart Samsung deal that is driving up our hydro bills.
Hydro bills are already high enough.
Hardworking Ontario families don’t need new energy taxes. Bills are too high already.
One thing we will not do…a Tim Hudak government will never do…is implement a carbon tax.
A Tim Hudak government will restore the fundamental principle: one law for all. If you or I decided to open an illegal cigarette factory in our backyards, we’d have the OPP on us two hours later. But some lawbreakers are more equal than others in Dalton McGuinty’s Ontario.
We will end the Liberal indifference to victims of crime. Dalton McGuinty simply sat on the $31 million fund for victims of crime. A Conservative government will compensate victims with the money intended for them.
Lawbreakers will use their time in provincial prison to repay society: picking up litter, raking leaves. I’d especially like to see prisoners using mop and pail to clean up the graffiti that defaces our cities – and that threatens law-abiding citizens with the message -Gangs rule here, and there’s nothing the authorities can do. If you entrust me with the government of Ontario, those who fight the law will find, -the law won.
For 8 years, Dalton McGuinty has governed Ontario by his unique ideology
If it works, break it.
If it’s broken, hide it.
If you run out of money, borrow more.
Everything is government’s business, but nothing is ever government’s fault.
I have the opposite point of view: a practical plan for Ontario families.
If it works, leave it alone.
If it’s broken fix it.
If you are out of out money, stop spending.
When things are going wrong, change them.
Respect working people. Support families. Create opportunity. Restore hope.
And whatever else you do, never ever stop believing in the great future of this beautiful province of Ontario and its compassionate, hard-working people.
A year ago, I asked this party to get ready. I asked you to work like you’ve never worked before. I asked you to take this party’s message to places where it has not been heard in many years.
I asked – and you did.
You’ve worked. You’ve donated. You’ve talked to your neighbors over the back fence. Or over the back nine. Or over the back forty.
Now decision day has almost arrived. We’re counting down together. We will campaign together. We will win together. And together we will change this province – and restore Ontario as the best place on this earth to live, start a business, and raise a family.
Dalton McGuinty won’t do it.
Dalton McGuinty can’t do it.
We can. We will.
We are the only party that can deliver this change.
Four months until we bring real relief to families.
Seventeen weeks until we make government work for families.
And 131 days until we clean up the waste, the fraud, and the secret deals.
Let’s work hard together.
Let’s deliver change together.
Let’s win together.
Leader, Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario