The promises that political parties make.

Author:Cirtwill, Charles
Position:Think Tank

Well, it's here: election year. Platforms, pontificating and politicians by the passel. What is an innocent vote-toting Ontario citizen to do in such times?

First, and this may come as a shock, don't expect the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. From anyone. Errors, omissions, oversimplifications and generalizations will occur.

So, stay skeptical, everyone. There is a flood of door-to-door salespeople coming your way, and they are all sure you need their deluxe model and that the other guy/gal's brand will spoil your carpet.

Second, ask questions. If anyone tells you they are going to create a grand new program, ask them how they are going to pay for it. If someone tells you they are going to reduce your taxes, ask them what services you have to give up to make that happen. If they tell you they can increase your services and lower your taxes, ask them who the losers are, since clearly you are one of the winners. Make them show their math, though; don't just take their word for it.

If anyone tells you that they can increase everyone's services while lowering everyone's taxes, stop listening and shut the door. This is a fundamental point that every voter should understand. Taxes are the price we all pay for the services government delivers. What the various parties are offering is simply different blends of fees and services--there is no free ride. Your job is to select what combination strikes your fancy the most. But remember, no matter who wins, they won't be doing everything they say they will; no one ever does.

But there will be promises, lots of them. Everyone, for example, will promise to support the Ring of Fire--so get specifics. How will they do this? What infrastructure investment are they proposing? Will they use government subsidies and, if so, directed at whom? Will they invest in training and skills development? How much, to whom and by when? What makes their plan different than the competition's? What evidence do they have that what they propose actually works? Has anyone tried it before elsewhere?

Indigenous peoples will also get a lot of attention. We will hear about reconciliation and partnerships and new beginnings. Your questions should focus on who actually makes the final decisions --are we talking about power sharing or consultation? Who bears the risks and...

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