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The Island New Democrats are in the political wilderness for a reason, and the party’s platform released on Thursday is a prime example why.
Their plan, if implemented, would send the Prince Edward Island economy into a spiral.
The deficit would balloon out of control.
Taxes would increase across the board.
Investment in our province would all but disappear.
And the mass exodus of young people, which the province is finally starting to curtail, would reach unprecedented levels.
But that’s the problem with the NDP. The party knows all too well that it can promise whatever it wants. They are dead last in the polls. The last poll by Corporate Research Associates released in November put the Island’s NDP at six per cent. That’s 31 points behind the leading Green party.
To be taken seriously as a political party, Prince Edward Island voters want a concrete plan, a plan that is costed, a plan that is based in reality.
The NDP is promising $100 million for farmers, fibre internet for rural Islanders and a family doctor for every Islander within 18 months.
Have we not heard that promise before?
Successive governments in provinces across this country have made this promise. All have failed. So, why does the NDP feel it can deliver when governments of all political stripes have made similar promises?
The NDP is promising to build a medical school at UPEI.
Price tag? Millions of dollars.
But wait, the promises do not stop there.
The party will build a new addictions treatment facility in western Prince Edward Island, create 2,000 new affordable housing units, launch a new provincial pension plan that covers all Islanders, and every vehicle in the provincial government’s fleet will be electric.
Cost? Well, the party doesn’t know, but we’re confident it is now in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
But wait, there’s still more.
There will be 16 doctors each for West Prince and Kings County, a health-care pilot in Charlottetown and North Rustico, income support program, local food program in Island schools and a “second-city” strategy for Summerside, which includes robbing jobs out of Charlottetown and relocating them to Summerside.
Not only is that an ill-conceived plan, we also question how the people of Summerside feel about being called a “second-city.” What makes the Prince County capital any less of a city than the capital?
When asked how the party plans to pay for its ambitious plan, leader Joe Bryne says, “there’s money in the system.”
There is no question Prince Edward Island has been able to turn around its economy and is now recording surplus budgets.
But we cannot lose sight of the fact the province, according to the 2018 auditor general’s report, is still grappling with a $2.17 billion debt.
Do we want farmers to be successful? No question.
Do we believe that every Islander deserves a doctor? Without a doubt.
Is there a need for more affordable housing units in P.E.I.? Yes.
But we need a realistic plan to achieve these goals.
The NDP plan, if implemented, would bankrupt this province.
We are challenging the NDP to go back to the drawing board and come up with a realistic plan, one which Islanders can get behind.