QUEEN’S PARK – Since the October 6th election, there has been a lot of speculation about what the 40th Ontario Parliament will look like. As a province we are in unusual territory, having chosen to give no party a majority while struggling through one of the worst economic downturns in decades.
A lot has changed in our province. We are no longer the economic engine of Canada. In fact, we have lost our status as a ‘have’ province and have to look to transfer payments from wealthier provinces to help keep our programs running. Meanwhile, the cost of living has escalated out of control, especially in Northwestern Ontario, where our economy was hard hit long before the global recession.
How will we balance our difficult economic position, while investing in jobs and healthcare and reducing the tax burden on people with modest and middle incomes? That is the challenge we face on November 21, when Queen’s Park begins sitting for the first time following the election.
One thing is clear, however. Voters made a deliberate choice to not give any party a mandate to implement all their policies unchecked. All three parties have been sent a clear message by voters that the bickering and blaming of the past is unacceptable and we must work together to find common ground and solutions that will help our province recover economically.
I’m pleased to report that Andrea Horwath, the Leader of the Ontario NDP has requested meetings with the leaders of the other two parties to sketch out some common areas to move forward. I have also had the chance to speak with Ministry of Natural Resources Minister (MNR) Michael Gravelle, in my capacity as NDP critic for MNR and, while it is early, I am feeling good about our ability to work together. This spirit of cooperation is critical, as our region has a number of budding economic opportunities, including plans to redevelop and reopen the Ignace Sawmill and predicted continued growth in our mining sector all across the riding.
While I understand that this Parliament may have its challenges posed by the minority government situation, I am hopeful that the political grandstanding that characterized recent federal minority governments will be avoided.
Although challenging, I believe this minority is a great opportunity to show leadership at all levels as we work together toward common goals. Let’s hope all parties received the message.
Sarah Campbell, MPP Kenora-Rainy River