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What ethics?

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Have we come to expect our politicians to lie to our faces?

The Canadian Press reported Friday Ontario's budget deficit now stands at $7.4 billion—nearly half of the $15 billion Premier Doug Ford claimed he inherited last year from the previous Liberal government.

The PC government's official stance is the 2018-19 deficit improved over the $11.7-billion projection in the spring budget due to “higher-than-expected tax revenues and lower spending.”

According to the Tories, higher tax revenues and a decision to not draw on a reserve are part of the reason for the drop to $7.4 billion, along with $2.4 billion less spending than projected, including in education, children's and social services and justice, as well as cancelling green programs that had been funded by the previous government's cap-and-trade program.

In their last budget before last year's election, the Liberals estimated a $6.7-billion deficit. When the PCs came to power they said the province was the in the red to the tune of $15 billion. Some $5 billion of that was the result of adopting different accounting methods.

The financial accountability officer at the time pegged the deficit as closer to $12 billion.

Green party leader Mike Schreiner has said Ford has overstated the deficit over the last year “in order to pursue an ideological agenda of government cuts,” while interim Liberal leader John Fraser has said the government underestimated the year's revenue in previous financial updates, so that it could now say higher-than-expected revenue has helped lower the deficit.

While the eternal optimist might see the updated, lower deficit as good news, pointing out that Ontarians should be happy they're provincial government is operating for billions less dollars a year.

But the bottom line is that the Ford government intentionally lied about the deficit.

Whether we are looking at our provincial or federal government, or to Trumpland south of the border, there's daily examples of politicians being untruthful and yet the majority of the public does not hold them accountable.

With the federal election just around the bend, maybe one of the questions we should be asking ourselves not only if our candidates reflect our best interests but if they're trustworthy?

—Duane Hicks

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