Ontario, get ready for The Big McGuinty. The 562-page report from the government appointed Commission on the Reform of Ontario's Public Services, chaired by economist Don Drummond, has all the makings of a diversionary shell game in which everybody is directed to follow the pea of spending cuts while the real game is something else.
With attention now focused on carving Mr. Drummond's 362 recommended slices off the great Ontario spending bologna, the real bait-and-switch objective, The Big McGuinty of this giant exercise in fiscal self-flagellation, is something else altogether: tax increases.
Does anybody seriously think the Liberal government of the Rev. Dalton McGuinty, after a decade of installing feel-good spending increases and extravagant policy schemes, is suddenly going to roll it all back and reverse a decade of ideological commitment to government intervention and liberal spending programs?
The Drummond report would require policy-backtracking on a vast scale. Somewhere in the near-eternal labyrinth of the Drummond report there must be evidence that the McGuinty's Liberal government did something right over the last decade. If there is, I haven't found it yet.
Aside from setting Canada's largest province on a death spiralish plunge into what could become a $30-billion deficit by 2017-18, and a debt load of $411-billion equal to 51% of GDP - establishing the McGuinty Liberals as neoGreek fiscal managers - the government comes off as the regime that couldn't do anything right.
From health care to electricity regulation and energy policy, from transit planning and business subsidies, Ontario emerges as a province in need of a top-to-bottom big fix, a revamp of every policy, priority and plan on file in the bureaucracy.'