LONDON, Ont. -- Tim Hudak shifted from the stick to the carrot Thursday, as he touted tax cuts in a London stop.
Surrounded by banks of big-screen TVs at an electronics retailer, their screens all tuned to his Million Jobs pledge, the Ontario Progressive Conservative leader said he'd reward consumers with a tax cut, about $820 a year for the average family, once the provincial budget is balanced with tough cutbacks.
Ontario is now running a Liberal-projected budget shortfall of $12.5 billion for this year.
"I think it's time to lower taxes in the province to get our economy going again," Hudak said. "Balancing the budget will not be easy ... but once you get there, there will be benefits for all of us."
Hudak estimated a tax cut to middle-income families would create 47,000 jobs in Ontario through economic stimulus.
"We will reward your sacrifice and hard work ... and that means you will have more money to invest in things you care about, fixing up your house, shopping in a store like this."
Asked about the Liberal promise to bring high-speed rail service to London, part of the government's $29-billion, 10-year pledge to invest in transportation across the province, Hudak noted the project would cost several billions of dollars.
"I would probably give the Liberals more credibility if they weren't promising billions and billions in every other part of the province," he said.
Canada's fourth-busiest Via Rail hub, London is not served by the provincial GO commuter rail network that reaches Kitchener-Waterloo, putting that region in Toronto's commuter orbit.
Hudak's Southwestern Ontario swing Thursday came a day after the he rolled out a platform that laid out steep cuts he says are needed to whip Ontario's books into shape, including a wage freeze in the broad public sector and eliminating 9,700 non-teaching positions from the education system.
Among other changes, the Tories would also scrap the 30% tuition grant for post-secondary students, end direct government subsidies to business and reduce corporate taxes.
BY THE NUMBERS:
- $820: Value to average family of Hudak-avowed tax cut
- $12.5 billion: Budget deficit that would have be whipped first
- 47,000: Number of jobs Hudak says middle-class tax cut would create