Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Glen Murray

I decided the only fair way to do these was to go in the order of currently-reported delegate totals (which I recognize may change as the party finishes it works), which, following Harinder Takhar brings me to Glen Murray.

Former Mayor of Winnipeg (interestingly, the first of two Manitobans competing for the top job here in Upper Canada) and up-'til-he-entered-the-race Minister of Training, Colleges, and Universities, Murray has brought a lot to the race.

Anyone who's seen some of the debates will have noticed that one of the things he brings, repeatedly (as does at least one other candidate) is a lot of "meta". Instead of merely showing that he has differences from the candidates, he makes sure we know it - by telling us. Explicitly.

But, it's true.

He has brought two clear, and interesting ideas to the table that are both very worthy of consideration.

First, "no money down tuition". Basically, I gather, it's essentially like what goes on in Australia - everybody goes for free, and then everybody pays the "loan" from all of us to them back by having their wages garnished for up to 25 years (thus we hear the screams of Tim Hudak arguing that the lazy will probably just sit out of the economy for 25 years to avoid having to pay a dime).

This is a big, and valuable, idea, as long as all the kinks are worked out. Given that we're not going to move to free tuition, this seems more equitable, and valuable. But there are some kinks... the foremost among them where the money is going to come from. My (hilariously limited) knowledge of practical accounting would suggest this would massively add to the deficit in the short term, as we start handing out $7 000 loans to university students ($4 000 for college) that we'll have to pay for... then presumably get back. I imagine the bureaucracy required would be a wash... we wouldn't have to do obnoxious means testing for OSAP (find me a student who doesn't know anyone who they think cheated the system, and I'll find you a student who doesn't know anyone), but we would have to start clawing back from every Ontario grad for years and years - presumably through income tax.

It's also not totally clear to me what happens if people move away... I mean they obviously still owe us the money, but...

Second, he's proposing a "tax shift" - or such is my understanding. I failed to find the answers on his website, but I've heard him talk about it, so I'll just fake it from here. The site does explain that he would turn RRSP and Child tax credits into grants, resulting in a tax cut of a few hundred dollars for middle-class families - but not how he'd pay for it. I have, however, heard him talk about it. My understanding is that the best-off among us will be asked to pay a little bit more in taxes to pay for this [NB - happy to be corrected on this]. This makes sense to me - shift things a little bit from the top to the middle should mean you're insulated against the grosser attacks from the right (though I would not put it past Hudak to take the side of the plutocrats, as he stumbles around on everything else).

If you've read Murray's media, you've seen the story - trying hard to put forward big ideas, but talks too much. I've always been willing to listen to him, so I'm not too sure about the latter - but I am glad these ideas are in the race.

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