Monday, September 12, 2011

Horwath weighs in

Finally addressing the big issue of week one that the NDP curiously declined to speak about:
For a week, Andrea Horwath has been reluctant to talk about the issue sucking the air out of the campaign so far – the Liberals’ plan to give employers who hire immigrants a $10,000 tax credit if they provide training.

Not her issue, she insisted. “Mr. McGuinty needs to defend his policy himself.”

But on Monday, she was the one to bring it up.

“For much of the last week, there’s been talk about a proposal to help a small number of new Canadians compete for a shrinking pool of jobs,” she said. “We can do better than that.”

Of course, that’s a cue to talk about her plan to pay companies to create new, full-time jobs “for all Ontarians.”
“I think they’re both wrong and I think Ontarians are pretty disappointed by the tenor of the conversation so far,” she said. “While they’re hurling insults at each other … everyday Ontarians are getting lost in the shuffle.”
Why Horwath waited until today to speak out against Tim Hudak's stoking of xenophobia in Ontario is a mystery. The issue caught fire and she missed it. There are leadership questions if she won't speak out against such inflammatory rhetoric as it is spread by another major party leader. It seems the NDP may have been caught up in a strategy to do a re-run of the federal campaign, that they'd sit back and let the other two parties slug it out on various issues, including this one, then step up as the alternative. But she jumped in today, on her initiative, suggesting they realize that may have been a mistake.

The second thing here, she's lumping McGuinty and Hudak together by saying "they're both wrong." Missing the point, again, on the dynamic that took hold in the campaign. McGuinty and Hudak have not been speaking the same language this past week. Hudak is speaking the language of division, evoking "foreign workers" who are going to steal Ontarians' jobs. McGuinty is speaking inclusively and has put a proposal forward to address the situation for new Canadians who can't get training. In saying "they're both wrong," she's suggesting they're equally culpable for the tenor of the debate that's fired up. And that is what her remarks seem to be focused on, the "tenor of the conversation so far," the "hurling insults." Yet there isn't equivalence at all in the tenor as between McGuinty and Hudak.

The NDP also seem to be hewing to a Hudak-like position on the issue of tax credits to businesses to hire workers. There's nothing wrong with encouraging businesses to hire workers. But the NDP are again avoiding the issue that's arisen. Does Horwath disagree that there's an issue with skilled new Canadians not being able to get training and get into the workforce? How does she propose to remedy that defect?