Tag Archives: ontario

Ontario Liberals win third straight term in office

By Claire Sibonney | Reuters

TORONTO (Reuters) – Ontario Liberals scored a third straight victory in a provincial election in Canada’s economic center on Thursday, but fell one seat short of a majority and will need support from opposition legislators to stay in power.

The Liberals won 53 seats in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario after a late surge in a campaign in which polls showed they started in a weak second place. The election numbers were not yet official and many individual races were very close.

This will be the first minority government in the province since the mid-1980s.

The Progressive Conservatives scooped up 37 seats while the left-leaning New Democrats were ahead in 17.

The Liberals’ took most of the seats in urban centers including the financial capital of Toronto, while the Conservatives dominated the province’s rural areas.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, now heading for his third straight term in office, campaigned on a message of a “steady hand at the tiller” in difficult times.

McGuinty highlighted his track record of steering the province, Canada’s manufacturing powerhouse, through recession with no major spending cuts.

Ontario, with a population of more than 13 million, is Canada’s most populous province. Its export-oriented economy accounts for about 40 percent of the national gross domestic product.

The Liberals lost a total of 17 seats in the election, with the Conservatives picking up 12 and the New Democrats gaining seven. There were two vacancies going into the vote.

Fifty-four seats is the slimmest possible majority for the Liberals. Being one seat short of a majority means the Liberals will need to cooperate with opposition legislators to push through their agenda.

The two opposition parties can join forces to vote them out, either by rejecting major legislation or by passing a vote of no confidence.


The race began with a call for change over public frustration with the rising debt, taxes, electricity bills and spending scandals. In the end, voters decided that boring is sometimes best with a stable McGuinty dubbed “Premier Dad.”

“It’s important that we be sober minded about the message Ontarians have sent us tonight,” McGuinty said in a bittersweet speech before a cheering crowd in Ottawa.

“Ontarians said to us, ‘We are placing our trust in you but we expect you to work even harder, listen more than ever and give us nothing but your best every day. But most of all we demand that you lead.'”

During the campaign, the Liberals promised more money for their priorities of healthcare and education.

They say they can rein in a C$16 billion deficit and ween the province off its dependency on the auto sector by investing heavily in renewable energy.

Tim Hudak, leader of the Progressive Conservatives, saw his lead disappear in the final weeks of the campaign as he scrambled to connect with voters on a platform that looked very similar to that of the Liberals, albeit with some promises to lower taxes and curb spending.

“It is very clear that the people of Ontario have put Dalton McGuinty on a much shorter leash,” Hudak told supporters at his campaign headquarters in Niagara Falls.

A vow to scrap Ontario’s C$7 billion green energy deal with South Korea’s Samsung and end above-market prices for renewable power were the party’s only big policy difference with the Liberals.

Negative media play about right-wing crime and punishment ideas and moves deemed anti-immigrant and homophobic also did the Conservatives few favors.


Ontario freezes mimimum wage


Ontario‘s lowest earners will see their wages frozen this year for the first time in seven years, sparking fierce criticism from labour groups.

The Liberal government decision announced Friday leaves the province’s minimum wage at $10.25 an hour, marking an end to a series of annual hikes that followed the party’s election in 2003.

“We’ve increased it, I think, seven times in seven years,” Premier Dalton McGuinty said after a speech in Oakville, Ont.

“It’s now the highest in the country.”

In fact, while Ontario’s minimum wage is highest among provinces, Nunavut leads the country at $11.00. By contrast, the $8 level in British Columbia is the lowest in the country.

McGuinty said many employers were only now recovering from the global economic downturn of the last few years, and the wage freeze would help them get back on their feet.

“We’ve just come through a terrible recession,” the premier said.

“Businesses are just beginning to grow at a very modest pace. We think that we’ve struck the appropriate balance, given the times.”

The Ontario Federation of Labour said minimum-wage earners were already struggling to cope with rising food, housing and other costs of living.

“The government is willing to give corporate tax breaks worth billions of dollars to very profitable corporations,” said federation president Sid Ryan.

“To then turn around and say to the most vulnerable in society ‘We can’t give you a modest little increase’ is a horrible decision.”

Labour Minister Charles Sousa said the provincial government would appoint a business and labour committee this fall to advise on any changes to the minimum wage for 2012.

Ontario’s minimum wage was among the lowest in Canada when the Liberals came to office in 2003. It had been frozen for nine years under the previous Conservative government at $6.85 an hour.

Anti-poverty activists warned the freeze could be a sign of austerity to come.

“It’s a severe warning to not expect much more in the province for working people and people living on social assistance,” said Cathy Crowe with the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee.

“My work is seeing more and more people … working many jobs, often at minimum wage, so it’s not any help to freeze it.”

While the Opposition Tories supported the status quo, the New Democrats were critical.

“Freezing the minimum wage leaves struggling moms and dads behind,” said NDP member Cheri DiNovo.

“Hard work should be rewarded with fair pay — not with wages that keep families well below the poverty line.”

DiNovo cited Statistics Canada figures that show a full-time minimum wage earner in a large city falls $6,000 below the low-income cut-off line.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business warned earlier this week that raising the minimum wage would kill jobs.

Ryan said no credible studies support the view that a higher minimum wage costs jobs.

The head of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce said he supported the freeze.

“Minimum wage is an issue for us,” John Sawyer said.

“Given the economic times and from what I’m hearing from our members, yes, [a freeze is good].”



Marijuana law challenge denied by Ont. court


A judge has thrown out a legal challenge that claimed Canada‘s marijuana laws violate the freedom of religion provisions of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The challenge was brought by two Toronto men — Peter Styrsky and Shahrooz Kharaghani — who are reverends in a group called the Church of the Universe.

The men allegedly sold pot to undercover police officers in 2006. They are facing charges of marijuana trafficking and their case is due back in court Feb. 21. The amount of pot sold was small and the officers buying it were posing as members of the church.

The church uses the drug as a sacrament and argues the law infringes on their freedom of religion rights under the charter.

Prosecutors, however, had argued that allowing the church’s application would effectively legalize marijuana, as others facing drug charges would claim a religious right as well.

In a decision released Monday, Justice Thea Herman of Ontario‘s Superior Court found that the church deserves protection under the charter as a religious group, even though some “may view the beliefs of the applicants and other members of the Church of the Universe as absurd.”

However, she ruled that Section 1 of the charter poses a reasonable limit on that religious freedom, particularly when it comes to trafficking the drug. She ruled that distributing marijuana is not an activity that deserves protection as a religious freedom.

“I do not accept that providing cannabis to people in the basement … was a religious act,” she wrote. “They may well believe that providing [marijuana] to others is a good thing to do. That does not, however, transform its distribution into a religious belief or practice.”

She also ruled that providing a legal exemption for those who use marijuana for religious purposes is “not feasible” due to “the difficulties in identifying both the religious user and the religious use of cannabis.

“The proposed institution of a system of state inquiries into people’s religious beliefs has the potential to undermine the value we place on freedom of religion rather than promote it.”

Styrsky said he is considering an appeal of Monday’s decision.

“I think the judge said that we do have the right to use it. She just didn’t know how to implement it for us,” said Styrsky.

Last year, the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed an application from church founders Walter Tucker and Michael Baldasaro for leave to appeal their 2007 marijuana trafficking convictions.

On its website, the church refers to marijuana as God’s “Tree of Life” and that God’s children have a right to use it as a sacrament in “their lives and worship.”

“Church members are encouraged to surround themselves with the holy Tree of Life, not just inhaling it, but wearing it, growing it, writing on it, eating it, etc.,” the site reads.



Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) Continued…

McGuinty turns down HST public hearings

Premier Dalton McGuinty won’t agree to hold public hearings on the HST across Ontario, but says he expects voters will pass judgement on the new tax in 2011.

The opposition parties are vowing to ring the bells and use other legislative delaying tactics until the Liberal government agrees to public consultations on the harmonized sales tax.

McGuinty said Wednesday that people can call talk radio or write letters to the editor about the 13 per cent single sales tax, adding he would be surprised if voters don’t consider the HST in the next Ontario election.

He says that’s when people will have an opportunity to pass judgment on the government for introducing the HST.

Progressive Conservative critic Lisa MacLeod says it’s going to be a long November and December for the Liberals if they try to “ram the HST legislation through” without public hearings.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says McGuinty needs to hear directly from people about the fears they have about the impact of the tax, which takes effect next July.

The Canadian Press


Ontario ‘s New 13% Harmonized Sales Tax

What It Will Mean To You

Next summer (2010) the Ontario Government is set to put into force its new harmonized GST/PST sales tax which will apply a 13% sales tax to everything we purchase. 

Things That Were Not Subject To The Current 8% PST Will Be Now Taxed

As a result, things that were not previously taxed under the current Ontario Provincial Sales Tax (
PST) will be taxed at 8%. 
The new 13% tax will therefore apply to things like your electric bill, your gas bill, your water bill, condominium fees, insurance premiums, and every other good and service you purchase. There are almost no exemptions.
The current Ontario PST tax does not apply to services, nor does it apply to the purchase of certain goods. The new 13% tax will therefore extend the old 8% PST tax rate to the purchase of all goods and all services. 

The New 13% Tax Will Apply To The Puchase of All New Homes

The new harmonized GST/PST will also apply to all purchases of all new homes.. If a person were to purchase a new $1 million dollar home in Toronto , they would have to pay roughly $200,000 in taxes as a result of the Ontario land transfer tax, the new city of toronto land transfer tax, and the new harmonized 13% GST/PST. 

Think about that and what that would do to real estate values in Toronto . 

It will cause property values to fall and kill the new home construction industry and the jobs it creates. 
And it won’t be long before you’ll hear our elected representatives telling us that, because of the harm that has been inflicted to the new home construction industry by the new 13% tax, it would be “fair” to extend the new 13% tax to sales of existing homes.

The New 13% Tax Is An Assault On Your Primary Residence

Canadians have had two things that they have always been able to count on as being tax free – things that they could use to save money and accumulate wealth. They are your: (a) primary home; and (b) RRSP. That’s it.
The extension of the new 13% GST/PST to homes is simply a tax assault by the government on your primary home. They want to tax your primary home and you will suffer because of it. 
Why? Because if a purchaser has to pay almost $200,000 in taxes to buy your $1 million dollar home, the purchaser is going to pay less to you for your home. The purchaser will reduce the amount he or she is willing to pay to you in order to pay all the taxes.

The New 13% Tax Will Effectively Raise Your Income Taxes

Currently, the combined Federal/Ontario income tax rates are roughly 25% on the first $20,000 of taxable income, 42% on the next $40,000 of taxable income, and 46.5% on each dollar of taxable income over $60,000. On top of that you have to add the “Fair Share Health Tax” of up to $1,000 each of us has to pay.
If the Ontario Government gets away with implementing their new harmonized GST/PST sales tax of 13%, the top effective income tax rates in Ontario will be as follows (since you can’t spend any of your tax paid dollars without paying the new harmonized 13% GST/PST tax):
38% on the first $20,000
53% on the next $40,000
59.5% on every dollar over $60,000
On top of that, you have to pay your Ontario Fair Share Health Tax, your city realty taxes, your city garbage fees, your city water fees, your city street parking permit fees, your annual Ontario and new city of toronto vehicle license plate fees, your Ontario land transfer tax, your new city of toronto land transfer tax, your gasoline taxes, your liquor taxes, your air departure taxes, your entertainment taxes, and so on.








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