Tory candidate calls 'ridiculous' numbers fear-mongering
By Richard Leitner, News Staff
Hamilton's provincial Liberal candidates say Tory leader Tim Hudak’s election pledge to cut 100,000 Ontario civil servants would devastate the city’s economy by firing twice as many people as employed by ArcelorMittal Dofasco.
Ted McMeekin, who is seeking re-election in Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Dundas, seized on estimates by the Ontario Federation of Labour to warn the Hudak plan would cost Hamilton 10,555 jobs, “planting the seeds for a new recession.”
The OFL analysis predicts the city’s unemployment rate would jump to nine per cent from the current 6.8, he said.
Speaking outside the Woodward Avenue sewage treatment plant, McMeekin said Hudak’s “far right” deficit-cutting plan will download provincial costs onto Hamilton taxpayers, just as former premier Mike Harris did.
By contrast, the Liberals have uploaded $2 billion in costs from municipalities, he said, suggesting the Tories’ “ideological scheme” mirrors the sort of Harris cost-cutting that led to the Walkerton drinking-water tragedy that killed seven people.
“We’ve seen this movie before,” McMeekin said, trumpeting his government’s record of investing $38 million to upgrade Woodward and providing the city $89 million in support this year.
“We can’t be about cutting water inspectors and meat inspectors and childcare workers, educations workers,” he said, adding firefighters to those under threat. “We just can’t afford that kind of stuff.”
Reached afterwards, Progressive Conservative candidate Donna Skelly, who is running against McMeekin, called the OFL job-loss estimates “ridiculous,” accusing the Liberals of fear-mongering to deflect attention from their scandal-ridden record.
She said her party’s platform, including its centerpiece Million Jobs Plan, is largely drawn from the Drummond Report commissioned by the governing Liberals to provide advice on how to rein in the province’s $12.5-billion deficit.
“Our Million Jobs Plan is reasonable, it’s do-able, it’s ambitious, but it is also very responsible and necessary,” Skelly said.
“We’re talking 125,000 jobs to be created every year as we move forward over the next eight years, and the jobs that we’re talking about losing in the province, we’re really just talking about turning the clock back to 2009 (job levels).”
McMeekin’s fellow candidates – Ivan Luksic in Hamilton East-Stoney Creek, Javid Mirza on the Mountain and Donna Tiqui-Shebib in Hamilton Centre – also blasted the NDP, accusing it of needlessly forcing the June 12 election by refusing to support Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne’s “bold and progressive” budget.
“Andrea Horwath’s actions have made her a Hudak enabler,” Tiqui-Shebib said of the NDP leader, whom she hopes to unseat in her second run at office.
“Andrea has forced an unwanted election on Ontarians for her own political ambitions, and in doing so she’s put thousands of Hamiltonian families in jeopardy of receiving a Hudak pink slip while potentially adding millions of dollars onto the local tax base.”