Reality check: Stephen McNeil's promises then and now

In election campaigns, it’s easy to check whether the governing party kept its promises from the last election — we simply look at their record while in power. But what about the losing parties?

Comparing the Liberal promises made in 2009 versus 2013

In election campaigns, it’s easy to check whether the governing party kept its promises from the last election — we simply look at their record while in power.

In 2009, New Democrat Leader Darrell Dexter promised not to raise taxes during a debate on CBC News. We all know that’s a promise he broke when he increased the HST from 13 per cent to 15 per cent after his government came to power.

It’s more difficult to do that kind of reality check on the losing parties. Since they aren’t in power, they don’t have to make good on their promises.

But we thought we would give it a shot by comparing the Liberal platform in 2009 — when Stephen McNeil first ran as leader — to his party’s platform in this campaign.

We found a few notables differences:

Small business tax

2009: Liberals promise to reduce the tax from five per cent to one per cent.

2013: No tax break, only a promise to conduct a “comprehensive review of regulations, taxes and fees.”

Gas tax

2009: A promise to cut provincial motive fuel tax by four cents a litre, phased in over four years.

2013: Cutting the motive tax is now off the table. Instead, the Liberals say they will begin negotiations to stop charging the HST on top of the provincial and federal tax (the so-called tax on tax). They say they can’t foresee how those negotiations will go, so no promise the cut will happen.

User fees

2009: Liberals promise to "freeze user fees” on more than 1,500 government services.

2013: No mention in the platform other than that “review of taxes and fees,” although a party spokesperson says they will not increase user fees.

Efficiency audits

2009: Liberals promise to cover the complete cost of energy efficiency audits for homeowners.

2013: That promise is off the table. The party says the province’s finances are such that they can’t afford it this time around.

University tuition fees

2009: A promise to reduce tuition to the national average by 2011.

2013: This promise is also off the table. Again, a party spokesperson says the province can’t afford it. However, the party says it will work to make university more affordable through negotiations with the federal government and the universities.

February holiday

2009: A Liberal government will create a February holiday.

2013: No mention in platform book. The Liberals say they are committed to creating a February holiday but to give businesses a chance to adjust, the holiday won’t take effect until February 2015.

Those are just a few of the changes and modifications to the Liberal platform during Stephen McNeil’s leadership.

We encourage you to check out all the party platforms so you can make an informed decision on who to vote for in this election.

One more note. We didn’t do this comparison with the Progressive Conservative platforms because Jamie Baillie wasn’t the leader in 2009, so it would be unfair to saddle him with the promises of his predecessor.

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