Monday, February 7, 2011

Are Tories for or against health tax? It's hard to tell

Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak’s fledgling election campaign has stumbled over whether he would scrap the Liberals’ health tax.

Last week, Hudak’s office said Health Minister Deb Matthews “lied” when she warned in a speech to nurses that the Tories would slash the tax, which brings in about $3 billion a year to provincial coffers.

“Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak has been very clear. If elected premier, he would not cut the health tax or Ontario’s health care budget,” said a news release last Thursday following Matthews’ address.

Tory MPP Sylvia Jones (Dufferin-Caledon) echoed that message in a scrum with reporters, blasting the health minister for “lying.”

But in a press conference Monday at Queen’s Park, Hudak contradicted both his office and Jones, insisting that getting rid of the health levy of up to $900 per Ontarian was still “on the table.”

NDP MPP Peter Kormos (Welland) said there appears to be confusion in the Tory ranks as they craft a platform for the Oct. 6 election.

Liberal officials will respond to the apparent flip-flop later Monday.