The proposal would see the Ministry of Infastructure purchase the building and land for $317 million, effectively erasing a $234-million loan the government provided to MaRS in 2011.
"It shouldn't happen in secret. It shouldn't happen with a lack of transparency," said Hudak. "A $300-million bailout just before an election campaign? All they care about is Liberals and Liberals insiders and Liberal seats."
A couple easy questions for Tim Hudak, which he'll be no-doubt happy to answer:
1) Which seat would this save? I'm pretty sure Glen Murray's riding won't be saved (or lost) by whatever happens with MaRS
2) Is the implication that any cabinet-level transaction should either not happen or happen in real-time transparency in the lead-in to an election (that was triggered by the NDP?) - or is Hudak suggesting that the business of Cabinet should always be real-time transparent?
We haven't heard about #OpenGov yet this campaign - Hudak's opened the door to that.
While both the gas plants and MaRS involve real estate, none of the other details match up. Hudak is counting on people ignoring this fact and only paying attention to his argument. It's kinda like how he's still solidly behind his discredited Million Jobs Plan.
Nuance doesn't matter where he's concerned - only messaging does. Messaging he thinks will help him win.
Whoever he tars and feathers along the way is simply collateral damage.
We can break this down into two sections - one, real estate and two, the "bailout."
I myself am not opposed to an entity with more resources helping one that's falling through the cracks, be it a school and a student or a province and a community.
When I was working for MPP Jim Brownell, the major city in his riding of Stormont, Dundas and South Glengarry, Cornwall, had lost much of its manufacturing base to emerging economies. The City itself was suddenly lost significant tax revenue and was in a bit of an identity crisis. They came to Jim Brownell for help.
Jim arranged for a loan the City had received from the province to be forgiven - but to do that, he had to ensure that the same loan package (for downtown revitalization, issued in 1976) was forgiven for every municipality still owing.
It was a big deal - the Premier came down to announce it himself. Cornwall breathed a sigh of relief - they had a bit of wiggle-room to help them get back on their feet. That and the Eastern Ontario Development Fund (EODF, also one of Jim's good deeds) have helped bring some measure of stability and even vitality back to Eastern Ontario.
I'm sure Tim Hudak would call that a seat-saving bailout. He could even hint at the manipulative back-room dealings of people like Jim and I, working our asses off to advocate on behalf of his constituents.
At the same time, if we take a look at the consulting firms that got contracts - or, should he somehow eke out a win, get contracts while he's in office, it would be unfathomable to suggest that he's favouring partisan stooges with massive contracts.
It's casually hilarious what a big deal the Political Right makes about government owning land. They seem to feel government should go back to its original size - as in, existing solely in the Legislative Building itself.
That's how it started off - Members didn't have offices, they had closets. Ministries had minute staffs that filled the elegant but small rooms that are now Member offices at Queen's Park. The reason for this is that Ontario has grown, as have public expectations.
Could you imagine the Ministry of Health consisting of ten people squished into a small room with poor heating doing analysis on the potential of new drugs or coordinating service delivery across the province?
As it stands right now, a lot of Ministry offices are located in buildings away from the downtown core of Toronto - primarily because of the effort to find cheaper real estate. Of course, this means that for meetings, presentations and the like, public servants spend oodles of time in transit on Toronto's clogged roads - using taxi chits, by the way, because it's their job to commute back and forth. The chits are a necessary tool for them to perform their function.
MaRS is walking distance from Maconald Block, where most Ministries are located, and Queen's Park proper. If you take the subway, you can even get there underground.
If you can consolidate government offices in one, accessible space, reducing the need to pay rent elsewhere and get rid of all the chit-problems, there could very well be value in this. I don't know one way or the other what the fine print of the deal or the cost offsets are, because I haven't looked at it.
Neither has Hudak, but that's not stopping him. He has proven, time and again, that the facts don't matter - only his argument does.
This isn't the first time - not even in this election - that Hudak has jumped on a talking point he feels serves his partisan interests without stopping to check the facts. When he's proven to be wrong, as happens a lot, he doesn't stop, consider, apologize and adapt - he bristles and attacks.
With so many contentious, even volatile issues emerging in Ontario right now, it doesn't take much to guess what kind of public response his my-way-or-the-highway leadership would have.
Hudak can keep on tilting at windmills and raging against MaRS - when he comes to his sense, we'll be waiting for him back here on planet earth where real problems still require real solutions and leaders with the common sense to think solutions through.