With recent polling results in Ontario putting the Ontario Liberal Party in third place and almost 60% of those polled suggesting Premier Wynne should resign, we imagine there might be some hand-wringing going on among party executives and senior MPPs.
The following is my take on how one of the strategy sessions to plan for the upcoming 2018 election might go.
VB—President of the party
VB: OK, folks, I’ve called this meeting because we are down deep in all the polling results and we only have a little over a year to turn things around. I felt after our last planning session the announcements by the Premier and the Energy Minister to drop the 8% provincial portion of the HST and the reduction offered to rural ratepayers would do the job. That hasn’t happened and the media have kept presenting bad news stories about hydro rates despite those two actions. We need to do more so I need some ideas!
SG: As I see it the start of the “cap and trade” tax sure hasn’t helped the parties image either, in spite of how we painted it as Ontario “leading the world in a climate change environment.” We also got both the environmentalists and the Prime Minister himself to bless it! The good thing though is the tax will pull in lots of money so we should think about how we can use it. Just a warning Charles—you may have to be imaginative when you present the budget to show it coming to balance in 2018 and Glen—most of the funds won’t be at your disposal either! We need to get voters back on side in the urban centres now too. We are looking weak in Ottawa, Windsor and even Toronto in a few ridings. We have to get electricity costs off the front burner! So, how?
GM: I’m OK with not getting a chunk of the money—we are so far ahead of everyone else on this issue.
GT: Well, as you suggest, the electricity sector is at the top of the list among voter’s concerns so we have to do something to show rates going down. We have made some noises about looking at the distribution rates and can, to a certain extent, blame the municipalities who own the local distribution companies. Or, we could blame the OEB so maybe we should focus on getting those down? Could we use some of the “cap and trade” tax for that purpose?
PW: We have kind of teased the media that we will use some new money for exactly that, looking for more ways we can get rates down so let’s do it. Glenn, I am glad you followed through and got some of those old gas plants shut down as that should mean the electricity sector emissions will show a slight decrease, and let’s pray for no smog days in 2017 so we can brag about it. It also makes it look like we know what we are doing! One thing I should tell you though, Glenn: stay away from O’Leary. Your letter to him didn’t do so well in social media. I probably shouldn’t have gone after him either, so from now on let’s just pretend he doesn’t exist!
Now Charles, how much do you think we can put towards getting those rates down, oh, and don’t forget, as soon as we are re-elected we can put the 8% right back on those electricity bills?
CS: I figure we can throw $1.2 to 1.3 billion into the Energy Ministry pot to help get rates down. It’s less than 1% of the budget. Glenn and I figure it will get distribution rates down quite a bit—possibly as much as $300 a year for residential ratepayers. That would be $25 per month and should win us back a bunch of those voters that are ticked off with us. Even if we get, say, 1 million voters back, that will go a long way to bringing us another majority. I’m pretty sure I can find a way to come up with what looks like a balanced budget for 2018 even without that money. Thank God the economy is showing some signs of life as that is helping to push revenues up a little bit. Some of those recent fee increases for licenses, etc. also help, not to mention the HST tax on the cap and trade tax.
SG: OK, I think this plan makes sense so let’s keep our fingers crossed and make it happen. We will help the Premier coordinate the news releases to make sure the media can’t do anything but praise her and the party. Timing will be key so let’s keep this under wraps for a little while and just offer some snippets to give the sense that good news is coming. Later this year we can deliver the goods!
VB: OK. I agree with SG that this should be a major plank in our comeback bid and we can hopefully see those polling numbers change for the better. I have a good feeling that we will be able to get those supporters back and come through the 2018 election with another majority. This meeting is over!
Now we taxpayers and ratepayers can sit back and watch as the Ontario LIberals do what they continue to do before the next election, or we can push for real change to reduce the burden on households rather than simply watch the shell game unfold.
As Abraham Lincoln once said: “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”