Ontario Election Ideas06 February 2011
A provincial election is coming up in October and considering the charisma of the party leaders it looks to be an election that will be fought on the basis of status quo vs. status quo (PC version). ( Hudak's status quo) The prospect of an election decided on the basis of who is the most stable for "these tough economic times" or the "nascent recovery" will be fairly boring to most Ontarians. It will not create climate of political differentiation that can lead to compromise after the election. So here are some ideas that might create an engaging campaign. (I'm sure the NDP have some vision also, but I haven't seen it yet.)
Funding for Cities
One idea is increasing the HST by a few percent and legislating that portion be funnelled directly to municipal operating budgets proportional to population. (I'm not sure how this would work with regional municipalities, but that seems like a problem that can be fixed.) Raising the HST and specifying its beneficiary would accomplish a few things. First, it would demonstrate that the province cares about cities enough to expand their revenues.
Second, it entrenches a level playing field in local sales tax. Of course, the playing field is even now and is unlikely to change because cities do not have the power to impose sales taxes, but it cuts off the argument that X region would choose a lower rate than Y region given the choice to lure businesses from X. Luring business through taxes breaks and cuts might be good for one economy but it does nothing to improve the regional economy nor the provincial one.
Third, the move should stem the tide of municipalities coming cap-in-hand every year for a provincial handout. This idea, naturally, needs more development such as preventing equal property tax reductions to obtain a revenue neutral budget.
Another idea is implementing a system of instant runoff voting (ranked ballot). I know that in the previous provincial election voters rejected electoral reform. However, I would argue that changing to a system of ranked choice voting allows voters unwilling to change their voting habits to not change while providing an improved system for those who want to see representatives elected by a majority of voters in a riding. Some information about a Toronto ranked ballot initiative.
Any other ideas? Some initiative on the OMB? Improving preventative health care and health promotion?