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Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak (Rafal Gerszak/Rafal Gerszak)
Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak (Rafal Gerszak/Rafal Gerszak)

Robert Silver

Where are Tim Hudak's budget proposals? Add to ...

Not that he needs me to act as his promotional agent but Adam Radwanski has an important column in today's paper for those of us who follow Queens Park.

Adam basically calls out Tim Hudak for his lack of policy definition and uses the current mock-scandal over the Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) as an example of an opportunity for Hudak to present his alternative vision for health care in Ontario. Hudak's response (through a spokesperson) is " Mr. Hudak is exploring his options." Fair enough - he's only been a MPP for 15 years and his first anniversary as leader is quickly coming upon us but no need to rush out his views on how half the provincial budget gets spent.

If health care can wait, next month's provincial budget is more time sensitive.

Without hyperbole, this is an important budget for the province. How does the government help the private sector create new jobs? How do we balance our provincial budget? Do we sell assets? Cut spending? Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan has one of the toughest jobs in the province as he works through these tough options. But back to Hudak.

Tim Hudak wants to be the next premier of Ontario. Lots of people like the guy (it's hard not to) but this isn't show-friends, its show-business and the overarching question with Hudak is what he would do if he was running the province.

In Ottawa, opposition parties have all given Stephen Harper their priorities for the next session. You may not agree with the asks, and they may ultimately be based on opposition politics more than sound public policy but at least they are out there for voters to judge. Sure Ottawa is a minority parliament but a key component of being a government in waiting is explaining to voters not only what is wrong with the current government but what you would do if you were in power.

Go to the Ontario PC website and find me any indication what Tim Hudak wants to see in this year's budget? Would he sell assets if he was in charge? Would he cut any programs? Cut taxes? How about raise them? I honestly have no idea.

The danger for Hudak is a year into his leadership, he hasn't put forward a single policy proposal of his own. Lots of bluster, lots of yelling - all that is part of the job description of leader of the opposition - but nothing substantive. If he ever aspires to be seen as a premier in waiting that won't be enough to get him there. This year's budget is an opportunity for Hudak to start laying down some policy markers. The alternative - to continue to refuse to say what he would do as premier - puts Hudak in real danger of being branded as a lightweight who has no idea where he wants to lead the province.

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