QUEEN’S PARK- The Ontario Progressive Conservatives say that the Premier has been caught once again. “This week Dalton McGuinty was caught trying to hide his government’s embarrassing secrets on two separate occasions,” states OPC Leader Tim Hudak.
“In the first instance, the McGuinty Government imposed a draconian gag order on neighbourhood pharmacists in an attempt to prevent them from publicly advocating alternatives to McGuinty’s proposed cuts to front line care. In the second instance, it has been revealed that the McGuinty Government, with no public notice or consultation, used the winter to rush through their plan to teach sex classes to six year olds,” commented Hudak.
“These are just the latest signs in a troubling pattern of secrecy from the McGuinty Liberals. Whether it is their secret Caledonia payout, cancelled review of the scandal plagued LHIN bureaucracy, or obstruction of legislative probes into the billion dollar eHealth scandal, it is clear that the McGuinty Liberals have no interest in transparency,” charged Hudak.
During Question Period in the Ontario Legislature on Wednesday, PC Education Critic Elizabeth Witmer stated, “It appears the only group you didn’t consult with were parents”.
Perhaps the real issue here, and one really causing problems for Ontario is that it is the special interest groups, and lobby groups which have the ear of the McGuinty Government?
Here is the transcript from Question Period in the Ontario Legislature:
Mrs. Elizabeth Witmer: My question is to the Premier. The McGuinty Liberals have been caught making changes to the elementary school curriculum that will see a new sex education curriculum introduced beginning in grade 1. When the Minister of Education was asked about this change, she said, “I am not a teacher, but we have worked very hard with experts to understand best what age-appropriate language and topics are.” It appears the only group you didn’t consult with were parents.
Why were parents not included in consultations and decision-making about these changes to the sexual education curriculum?
Hon. Dalton McGuinty: To the Minister of Education.
Hon. Leona Dombrowsky: It’s very important that I’m able to state in this Legislature for the people of Ontario that in fact we have been consulting extensively since September 2007 in our process to review the curriculum. We have consulted with dozens of groups, including parent groups, faculties of education, universities and colleges. We have consulted with the Ontario Physical and Health Education Association, with the Ontario Healthy Schools Coalition-made up of parents, I might add-and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
I would say that the draft curriculum was revised in both English and in French. Educators, parents and all stakeholders from across the province had the opportunity to provide feedback on the-
The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. Supplementary?
Mrs. Elizabeth Witmer: Again, my question is to the Premier because I do believe this is a very important issue for parents in the province of Ontario.
It has now become abundantly clear to parents-and these are parents across the whole province; we are seeing emails coming in, once they have been alerted to the fact this is happening-that it looks like you tried to bury this when you publicize everything else. In fact, this past week the government announced the third annual ChangeTheWorld campaign, an anti-smoking campaign, the opening of an OPP detachment, the launch of the health minister’s YouTube; you made education announcements, the EcoSchools partnership and honouring youth role models.
If this is so important and necessary, why was there no huge public announcement telling parents what you were going to do in September?
Hon. Leona Dombrowsky: I’m very happy that the honourable member acknowledges all of the great work that’s being done by the government. That is one way that we get the information out.
With respect to the consultation, we have consulted with parents. As a result of our consultations we have received some 2,400 responses. I would also say to the honourable member, yes, there’s no question that it’s an issue that generates a great deal of discussion and debate. I think it’s important that parents continue to be aware and involved in what their children are learning. We encourage them to be engaged at the school with the teachers. If, for whatever reason, parents do not the feel comfortable with what is in the curriculum, they can say to their child’s teacher that they do not want them to be a part of that particular strand.