Independent Schools tax Credit is “probably dead.”


TORONTO, June 18, 2002 ( – A month ago LifeSite predicted that, with the election of Ernie Eves, social conservatives would be frozen out of Ontario PC Party leadership circles, and at the same time, the unravelling of the once-powerful Harris Tories would be all but complete.

Yesterday’s Ontario budget, penned by Eves’ choice for finance mininster, Janet Ecker, confirms that when Eves refused to make any overtures to the pro-life element within his party and in the province at large—he meant it. It now looks more regrettable than ever, regarding the social issues, that Mr. Flaherty was not elected leader of the Ontario PC Party last March.

Not only has the Eves/Bassett government abandoned the only policy that stood a chance of retaining the loyalty of social conservatives—the Equality in Education Tax Credit (EETC) for parents who opt their children out of the public school system at their own expense—but it is clear that they have abandoned fiscal conservatism as well. On the latter, there is much valid criticism of the manner in which the Harris Tories implented their fiscal policies and social damage that resulted from some of those policies. Still, as the National Post wrote today in an editorial, “Nearly all the major tax commitments made in last year’s budget were withdrawn by Mr. Eves and Ms. Ecker yesterday.” Instead, they have increased program spending by $2 billion without any effective restraint on wasteful spending.

Pundits have noted that in adopting a Liberal-style budget with no tax cuts and lots of spending on trendy programs, Mr. Eves thinks he is being shrewd—strategically taking the middle ground to ensure success in the next election. But as the Post observes, “Repudiating Mr. Flaherty’s goals and accomplishments … is far from a sure formula for electoral victory.”

The Eves government’s blow at tax fairness for parents of school-aged children is hypocritically presented as “a prudent response to a temporary fiscal situation.” Parents will still able to claim 10% of the school tuition they have paid this calendar year—an amount that, under Flaherty’s plan, was supposed to increase to 20% starting in January 2003 and increase each year thereafter. However, Eves has now decided to claw back the increase so that next year’s credit will still be only 10%. Small-c conservatives point out that the so-called “savings” from this slap in the face, supposedly $15 million, is a trivial amount compared to $2 billion in spending increases in a $66 billion budget. Southam columnist Andrew Coyne wrote today that the school tax credit is “probably dead.”

A column in yesterday’s Boston Herald, reviewing the history of Charter Schools in the US indicates that why Eve’s nixing of the credit has nothing to do with protecting the health of the public school system. The writer states “Competition in just about any form, whether interdistrict choice between public schools, a choice between traditional public schools and charter schools, or among public, private and parochial schools causes the quality of education in public schools to improve.” Eve’s and his “partner for life” Isabel Bassett don’t want independent schools to interfere with the left’s fully taxpayer funded monopoly over the formation of children’s minds.

As LifeSite wrote last month, the lack of a genuine compassionate-conservative approach to social and economic problems, and Premier Eves’ disdain for social conservatives, are two reasons why they stand to lose the next election. “He can’t win an election without social conservatives” working hard for his party, said Jim Hughes, president of Campaign Life Coalition, “whether or not he realizes that.”

Most telling of all, perhaps, is that the Eves-Ecker budget betrays the longstanding party commitment—ensrhined in law in the Taxpayer Protection Act by Harris—not to raise taxes or defer tax cuts without consulting the taxpayers first. With a pen-stroke, that promise is now gone. “It is increasingly clear,” Andrew Coyne writes, that Eves “is constrained by no principle: no previous commitments, no contractual obligations, not even by the law. … He has not only broken faith with the taxpayers. He has duped his own party. He has, as my colleague Terry Corcoran [the editor of the Financial Post] says, carried out a coup d’etat against his own government.”

To read Andrew Coyne’s full comments, check tomorrow, when his column from today will likely be posted online.

To read LifeSite’s May 17, 2002 special feature on the Eves government see:

See the Boston Herald article at