McGuinty uses ‘Tough Medicine’ to sell HST – The Globe and Mail – #Toronto #Ottawa #economy

Based out of Queen’s Park, Adam Radwanski blogs on what’s making news (and what should be making news) in federal and provincial politics.

Monday, June 21, 2010 2:07 PM

McGuinty uses ‘Tough Medicine’ to sell HST

Adam Radwanski

As a general rule, partisan TV ads are usually short and sweet. But a minute is still barely long enough for Dalton McGuinty to get out his message in this new one put out by the Ontario Liberals, which underscores the Premier’s challenge in selling the HST.

By the time McGuinty has finished reassuring Ontarians that their hard work (and his) has the province enjoying a health economic recovery, he’s already used up a third of his time. From there, he has to cram in the message that economists like the HST because it reduces costs for employers, that this in turn will create “hundreds of thousands” of new jobs, that other forms of tax relief will offset the new costs for consumers, and that he nevertheless feels their pain.

He doesn’t even get to the Liberals’ other usual reassurance, that savings will eventually be passed down from businesses to individuals. But it’s still a fairly convoluted message that’s going to require his audience to pay closer attention than usual to what comes on during commercial breaks.

Therein lies the uphill battle that I mentioned in today’s column. If the provincial Conservatives put out a TV ad on this subject, they’d probably only need about 15 seconds. They’d call it a “tax grab,” show some seniors or home-buyers or hockey-playing children looking sad, and be done with it. You wouldn’t need to give it your undivided attention to have the basic idea hammered into your brain.

I don’t imagine the Liberals are under any illusions that they’re going to be able to persuade Ontarians that the HST is something they should be celebrating. More likely, it comes down again to selling the controversial policy as a matter of courage on McGuinty’s part – hence the decision to put him front and centre in the ad, rather than focusing on ordinary folks who will purportedly benefit from it.

The effectiveness of that strategy will be determined largely by how much Ontarians respect McGuinty to begin with, and thus trust him when he says he’s making hard decisions on their behalf. But again, as per the aforementioned column, the Liberals seem to feel that the more they take credit for the HST the less it’ll look like they have something to be ashamed of.

Posted via web from Toronto Real Estate News, Blog

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