This is a re-publish from The National Post.
by Scott Stinson, The National Post, May 10, 2014
The week before Charles Sousa tabled the Ontario budget that failed to pass, triggering a provincial election, the man who preceded him as Ontario Finance Minister came to Queen’s Park with a warning.
“Ontario is faced with a staggering debt,” Dwight Duncan said, and he called for public services to be contracted out. Government, he said, would have to “fundamentally re-evaluate its role.”
It didn’t escape notice that his warning was akin to a Kardashian tut-tutting someone about overexposure: Ontario’s debt rose from $154-billion to $281-billion during Mr. Duncan’s own time as Finance Minister. But he had warned about debt issues, he said, before he left office.
That much is true. Seemingly emboldened by the fact that it wasn’t his problem to solve anymore, Mr. Duncan went on an anti-debt crusade in his last months at the legislature. Given the province’s debt levels, he said in January, 2013, low interest rates were a “ticking time bomb.” He warned contenders for the Liberal leadership that spending cuts would have to be doubled if the government was still going to reach a balanced budget by 2017-18.
Kathleen Wynne won that race, of course. There is little indication she was listening.
The 2014 budget fattened the deficit, leaving Ontario with an annual hole of $12.5-billion this fiscal year. Total debt is now forecast to reach almost $338-billion by 2016-17.
It is a staggering number. But perhaps just as surprising has been the Liberals’ disinclination to do anything too rash in trying to reduce it.
Consider that the generally accepted blueprint for disastrous economic management was provided by the Bob Rae NDP government of the early 1990s. In 1993, a deficit that was anticipated to be around $10-billion came in closer to $12-billion.
Read the full story here.