A Conservative government would offer tax rebates to Canadians who use public transportation, party leader Stephen Harper will announce at a national caucus meeting in Toronto this week.
Details of the plan have not been made public, but Mr. Harper is expected to lay out a plan allowing those who use buses, trains and other public transportation to claim the expense on their taxes, party insiders say.
The party's finance critic, Alberta MP Monte Solberg, met with Toronto Mayor David Miller recently to discuss the proposal, which Conservatives hope will increase their popularity in the Greater Toronto Area.
The GTA isn't the only urban area in the country that could stand to have its public transit system promoted by means of a tax rebate, but leaving unfortunate Toronto-centrism aside, bingo. This
is the kind of thing that will actually win votes in Ontario, having as it would some broad appeal with urban workers, blue-collar or white-collar, and especially younger urban workers. I certainly wouldn't mind being able to write off the OC Transpo pass I buy every month during the school term, anyway.
Better yet - and I hope this was part of Tory strategists' reasoning - there is absolutely no way for the Liberals or media to spin promoting public transit as "scary." The proof of that is in the PMO's lack of pre-emptive talking points:
Scott Reid, communications chief for Prime Minister Paul Martin, said he would not discuss the idea of transit rebates until it was officially unveiled by the Conservatives.
I wonder if this strategy of conspicuously failing to push those policies most easily demonized will continue...