TORONTO - The Progressive Conservatives would lower taxes and reduce the size of the Ontario government if they win the 2011 election, Opposition Leader Tim Hudak said Monday.

Speaking at the party's largest fundraising dinner of the year, Hudak told the crowd of 1,400 that Premier Dalton McGuinty and the Liberals are out of control spenders who have no idea the harmful impact their tax policies have on the average family.

"We'll replace Dalton McGuinty's obsession with the nanny state with a focus on the basics: lower taxes, private sector job creation and smaller, more efficient government," he said.

"We will cut taxes to give families some relief from the HST, the health tax and all the new fees Dalton McGuinty forces them to pay."

Speaking later with reporters, Hudak wouldn't be specific about which taxes he would cut, but said there's no doubt a Progressive Conservative government would mean lower taxes.

"I come from the school that any tax is worth cutting," he said.

"The bottom line for us is we'll be campaigning on reducing taxes for hard working Ontario families because we believe they can spend their money better than the government can."

McGuinty, "the Nanny Premier," is more concerned with banning plastic bags and dandelions on your lawn than on creating jobs, said Hudak.

"A ban on walking and chewing gum can't be far off at this rate," he quipped.

The Liberal government also spent its way into a huge deficit that still approaches $20 billion, increasing government spending by 70 per cent over the last seven years, added Hudak.

"And after all this spending, we have almost nothing to show for it," he said.

"We still have an unemployment rate above the national average."

Hudak has been doing a good job of playing to the Progressive Conservative base, but he needs to clearly articulate a new urban agenda if he hopes to unseat McGuinty next year, said Henry Jacek, a political science professor at Hamilton's McMaster University.

"He has to have a cities agenda, and that's what's missing right now I think," Jacek said in an interview.

"He has to bring the mayors and city councils and city staffers over. They have to view him more positively, but right now they don't see anything there."

Opposing the HST could become a difficult issue for Hudak heading into the election, added Jacek, because he's on the opposite side to the Chamber of Commerce and most business groups that like the idea of a single, 13 per cent sales tax.

"So this is a real problem: the business community is very lukewarm towards his main plank," said Jacek.

"All the normal business people who might be sympathetic to a conservative-type party are really concerned about Tim Hudak's attack on the HST because they're really convinced it's the way to go."

McGuinty and the Liberals are nicely positioned on the HST, added Jacek, because both the Tories and New Democrats oppose it, which means they'll split the vote of those against the next tax. There's also the very real chance voters will be fed up with the attacks on the HST well before the October 2011 vote, added Jacek.

"One of the big problems is of course voter fatigue," he said. "You really have to suspect that come election time people will be bored with (the HST), and that is a problem (for Hudak)."

Party officials said the fundraising dinner added about $1.6 million to the PC coffers.