Years of alt policy wonks wrote the books on progressive taxation, Occupy crystallized the issues, and the Ontario NDP took the parliamentary leap. Now a party of big business has been shoved into taking baby steps towards reforming the lopsided tax system.
Talking about "extraordinary measures for extraordinary times,'' the premier said the discussions between the two parties had now created a "balanced'' budget, though, he wasn't feeling nearly so balanced last week when he opposed the concept at caucus meetings. McGuinty may be out of his comfort zone on this new tax, but now he gets to boast he can play nice with the NDP which will no doubt serve him well in any strategic appeal against Hudak.
Horwath's messaging was once again clear and compelling at her presser Tuesday, as she committed her party to ensuring the province wouldn't be plunged into an election. "This is not the budget I would have tabled,'' she said. "It's not an NDP budget.'' But the surcharge on high earners, made things "a little fairer for everyday Ontarians.'' She lamented that revenue from the tax would be going to general revenues, saying she recommended it be used for the health care system. "The government,'' she said, "decided otherwise. New Democrats have different priorities than Liberals.''
The sweetener though, is that McGuinty has committed to an estimated $240 million in added childcare funds as part of the pact, allowing New Democrats to talk up tangible gains. No question Horwath has done fine equity educating with her comparison between working moms needing childcare and rich folks with ever-increasing salaries.
Nonetheless, the budget remains a nasty piece of work. Tonight the NDP caucus considers their actual voting strategy - Horwath's commitment was to ensure the House not fall; she didn't promise every single NDP member would be available to actually vote.
Some elected reps will have a great deal of difficulty stomaching a plan giving zero increases to those on social assistance, shaving hospital budgets, cutting 4% in health spending, chopping public service jobs, etc.
And if the Libs are relieved, they shouldn't be complacent. The 15,000-strong protest on Saturday - over 90 buses brought labour and other activists from all over the province - was not a one-time affair. The budget implications will bring long-term pain and organizers, conjuring anti-Harris Days of Action - are plotting an extended campaign.
The NDP has made a clever score, but the game goes on.