THORNHILL – Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak was in Thornhill Ontario last night to deliver a speech to PC Party supporters.
Here is the text of the PC Leader’s Remarks:
Thank you very much for that welcome.
A full house … a full meal … full glasses … a full wallet for the PC Party … what a great night!
First, I want to thank Tony Miele for once again delivering an outstanding crowd for this evening’s dinner. Tony, thank you for all of your hard work and strong leadership. And I appreciate all of you coming out tonight and showing your support so generously.
I’m also honoured that Premier Mike Harris is also here tonight. Thank you for your ongoing support, leadership and faith in our great province. Of course, I’m always happy to be in York Region. Although, it’s always intrigued me that, of all the places in Ontario, the people who live here have the highest life expectancy in the entire province.
I’ve been trying to get to the bottom of this for years. My conclusion so far? It’s true what they say. Red wine really is good for you!
I don’t mean to say people here like vino rosso. But the last time I was here, I was driving with Tony Miele. And I said “Hey, that’s a funny place for a water tower.” And Tony said, “That’s not a water tower. That’s a vat!”
So, no wonder you are always so welcoming. And I really needed that after what happened on the weekend. It was another milestone in the glamorous life of an opposition leader.
My daughter Miller is in a salsa-tots class. Now, she’s only 3, so really she’s in a salsa-play music-and-jump-around class. She loves it. The only thing she loves more is watching Ontario PC Party TV commercials. Why? Because she’s in one. And the other day, Miller was at salsa tots the other day with my wife Debbie, who is here with me tonight. They walked in and the teacher said, “Miller, we saw you on TV with your mom! You looked great!”
Miller was beaming. But then the teacher turns to Deb and says, “By the way, who was that guy with you in the commercial?” Sounds like we have a campaign slogan right here: “I’m Miller’s Dad. And I’d like to be your Premier.” But hey, Miller loves that class. And watching all her new moves, I’m starting to understand that feeling that happens to all parents. That feeling you get when your children can do something you can’t. It’s a strange feeling.
You’re proud they can twirl in time to the music. But you’re embarrassed, because you hate to admit you can’t!
Proud … and embarrassed.
Welcome to the world of being a parent with young children. But I think for many people, it’s a pretty accurate description of life in Ontario today.
Proud … but also a little bit embarrassed.
We’re proud to live in the province that has long been considered the engine, the leader of Confederation. Yet, embarrassed that for two years now, Ontario has been a “have not” province … accepting handouts from the federal government while other provinces recover and grow.
We’re proud of the dedication of our doctors, nurses, and front-line health care workers, who embody care and compassion. But embarrassed that the government wasted a billion dollars on the eHealth boondoggle … while patients are being treated in an oil-stained ambulance garage, as they were at Credit Valley Hospital in Mississauga.
We’re proud of the ingenuity, innovation, and drive of Ontario’s entrepreneurs and industry leaders… like so many of you in this room tonight. But we’re embarrassed when the government doles out a sole source, seven billion dollar contract to Samsung, a foreign, multi-national conglomerate, for their expensive energy experiments.
We’re proud of our police officers who protect our streets and keep our neighbourhoods safe.
We’re embarrassed that criminals are released back on the streets before officers can even finish the paperwork.
We have the hardest-working families. The most dedicated health professionals and police forces. The finest educators. The most visionary business leaders.
Yet still, we lag behind.
Still, other provinces — provinces that used to look to us for support and leadership – are now leading the way. Now, let me be clear. I believe that Dalton McGuinty means well. The problem is that after seven years, he’s simply out of touch with what is happening in homes and on the streets across Ontario.
Did you tell him that slapping the HST tax grab on the goods and services you use the most, was a good idea? Did you ask for your hydro rates to skyrocket or tell him you wanted to do laundry in the middle of the night? Did you ask for foreign students to get $30 million in scholarships while our own Ontario kids struggle to pay tuition? Did you say, “Sure, go ahead with sex-ed classes for my six-year-old, and while you’re at it, why don’t you let them use cell phones in class too?”
These are the priorities of the McGuinty government. But these are not the priorities of Ontario’s hard working families. How do I know? It’s simple. We’re asking them.
Friends, I believe I get the best advice directly from families. They always give it to me straight.
Their advice – unvarnished and genuine. So, that’s why I’m in the middle of one of the largest, most extensive conversations with Ontario families ever undertaken. It’s called “Have Your Say Ontario”. It’s happening online, in print, and in person right across this province. If you haven’t had a chance to participate, it’s as close as ‘have your say Ontario dot CA.”
Now, the survey is still “live”, as they say. And the results to date have not yet been released. But I’d like to let you in on some of the very latest results, hot off my blackberry. Now, I just ask that you keep them between us. If I see them on Twitter tonight, I’ll know exactly where they came from!
And while the results are troubling, it motivates me and drives me to work even harder because I know we must get Ontario off the failed course we are on today. For one, we ask, “What issue is of most concern to you and your family?” The top responses? Taxes. The Leadership of Ontario. Jobs and the economy. Health care. And not surprisingly, hydro bills.
Here’s one I hear about a lot. We ask: “Are you worried the health care services you need will NOT be there when you need them?” 79% percent of people agree with that statement. That’s troubling. And here’s one more — one that gets me up even earlier in the morning and keeps me up later at night. We asked point blank: “Are you worried about your job security?”
How many people would you think said “yes”? One in five? A quarter, perhaps?
I wish that were the case. Over half of the people responding said, yes, they were worried
about their job security. 55 percent, to be exact. It means that even if you don’t have that worry – you know someone who does. Someone under serious stress. Someone who fears what the future may hold.
Is that the kind of Ontario we ever expected to live in?
The only thing I can promise to all those people who said “Yes, I’m worried” … is that change is on the way.
Change that will give families the relief they need to catch up. Change that will get your tax dollars focused on the services that matter. Change that will put its faith in the private sector to create jobs, and then get out of the way. And friends, in 315 days to be exact, a PC government will deliver that change.
Tonight, I want to touch on those three areas that will make you proud of Ontario again.
First, a PC Government will deliver a plan to govern that will give families real tax relief, so they can get their household budgets back in order. The reality is, the tax burden forced upon family budgets by Dalton McGuinty has been stifling, the latest crunch being the HST. From filling up your car with gas, to the heat for your home, to routine expenses like haircuts, the HST hits families hard. It’s clear, Ontario families need relief.
One of the most important questions on the Have Your Say survey asks what kind of tax relief would best help you and your family. In the months ahead, we will use the feedback we are getting to develop our plan to govern. A plan that will put families first, get government focused on the services we care about and need, and make private-sector job creation a priority.
Which brings me to my next point. I believe the private sector should be Ontario’s engine of economic development – not bigger government. I know there are just a few of you here tonight that work in the home-building business. No one knows better than you about Ontario families.
You help them fulfill their dreams of home ownership each and every day. When more families have more resources and more confidence to move into a new home, the closer Ontario will be to returning to our proud spot as a leader in Canada.
Over the last seven years, Ontario’s GDP grew by a total of nine percent while government spending increased by a staggering 70 percent. That kind of spending means Dalton McGuinty is on course to single-handily double Ontario’s debt by 2012. Let me put that in perspective, it took 23 Ontario premiers 136 years to accumulate our first $148 billion in debt, and he will double it on his own because he just can’t stop spending.
Folks, I think you’ll agree with me that the private sector simply cannot afford to support a bloated public sector any longer. To help reign in spending and get government focused on the basics families need most, I am calling for a mandatory Sunset Review process that forces every government body to justify their existence and continued value to the public. And if they can’t – they go.
One option that I like, and I’d appreciate your feedback on, has already worked for businesses in another province where a minister was specifically responsible for reducing the paper burden on businesses. Every ministry in government was asked to count all of their regulatory requirements and set a target of a 33 percent reduction over three years. And because they had someone accountable, and because it was measurable, they actually exceeded that goal. In fact, they reduced their overall red tape burden by over 40 percent.
It helped small businesses succeed. It helped not-for-profits. It helped municipalities to move their projects forward. And it’s an approach that is sorely needed here. I also believe in order to attract good jobs to Ontario and help build a strong private sector, energy policy should be treated as economic policy, and not a social program.
Because of this government’s energy experiments, hydro rates have increased by 75 percent since they came to office. Worse yet, bills are going up further 46 percent. As unaffordable as it is for families, businesses across Ontario, are also grappling with skyrocketing energy costs.
For many it will mean the difference of staying in business OR letting employees go, turning off the lights, and closing the doors for good.
That’s why we must create a strong, reliable and affordable energy plan that puts consumers first. And as a principle cost for many businesses, we cannot continue with the constant, tinkering, toying and experimenting with energy any more.
Lastly, we need to refocus government and invest in the services people need and care about the most, like health care. While the McGuinty government continues to throw millions at consultants and bloated bureaucracy, a PC government will direct those dollars to front-line health care first.
Like, for example, the Local Health Integration Networks or LHINs. LHINs are a $250 million dollar new layer of bureaucracy between the Ministry of Health and Ontario’s health care providers and the families they care for. LHINs don’t provide a single minute of patient care.
They have not performed a single heart surgery or MRI. As Premier, I’ll close the doors on the LHINs and put every penny into frontline care for Ontario families.
Friends, I believe, we all believe, in the tremendous potential of Ontario, both in its land and its people – just as my grandparents did when they came to Ontario from then Czechoslovakia, prior to World War II. For them, and countless other immigrants, Ontario represented hope…opportunity.
With your help, and your continued support, Ontario can end the embarrassment and once again be the envy of Confederation. Because, I want Ontario to be the leader in our great country. I want my daughter, Miller, to have every opportunity I had and more. I want hard working families, that play by the rules, to have a chance to get ahead.
Friends, I want to deliver the change that families from Thornhill to Thunder Bay tell me that they need. There is a better way for Ontario than the reckless course we’re on now.
It is not our destiny to be a have-not province, swimming in debt, high taxes and red tape.
Where government doesn’t serve those that pay for it, Where families struggle to make ends meet, Where businesses can’t compete. And next October, a PC Government will prove it.
My friends, change is coming to Ontario – 315 days from tonight.
Thank you and thank you for your support.
Ontario Progressive Conservative Party