From Queen’s Park: A look at the year ahead

Sarah Campbell-MPPThe new year is upon us, and with it comes a sense of renewal, as we look forward to 2012 and the opportunities it brings.

While the 2011 election brought change to Queen’s Park, and with it a desire for parties to work together, there have been some bumps along the road. While the opposition parties have tried to work with each other and the government, the Liberals have been slow to adjust to the new political landscape.

One of the biggest challenges we have been presented with is Premier McGuinty’s unwillingness to create the legislative committees necessary to push legislation along. Normally committees are formed within one or two weeks of the legislature being recalled, but the premier has been unwilling to do so, creating unnecessary delays in legislation.

This is delaying bills such as my party’s bill to remove the HST from home heating and the Liberal’s own Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit. No bill will return to the house without going to committee, so this is one of the first priorities of the New Year.

While there are challenges, there have been recent signs that the Liberals are moving closer to accepting the new political reality. Media reports suggest that McGunity’s hardline stance is beginning to break down and that he may be more willing to cooperate in the New Year.

Over the past few weeks I’ve had a constructive dialogue with Health Minister Deb Matthews on the challenges the medical clinics in Rainy River and Ear Falls are facing. This dialogue has led to short-term solutions that have prevented immediate closures, while I continue to push for a long-term strategy that will address these challenges permanently.

I’m hoping a similar approach can work with other ministries as I continue to spearhead issues such as access to crown land, and a solution to the delays government policy is having on mining development in our region.

Happy New Year. I’ll be back next week to delve further into some of these issues.

Sarah Campbell MPP
Kenora-Rainy River