QUEEN’S PARK –Lisa MacLeod, PC MPP for Nepean-Carleton says that “As part of a pattern of trying to cover up their dismal record on the economy, the bloated debt and skyrocketing hydro bills, Liberal cabinet ministers are playing fast and loose with the facts, hoping to pull the wool over the eyes of Ontario families”.
“Increasingly desperate to paper over their shameful record of mismanagement, the Liberals aren’t going to let something as small as the facts get in their way. When it comes to the current Ontario government, credibility is cheap,” charges MacLeod.
The PCs state, “Energy Minister Brad Duguid continues to say that Ontario is moving past coal-generated electricity toward cleaner sources of energy, yet coal use rose by 28 per cent last year. In January, the National Post published a letter by Dwight Duncan where he wrote that Ontario’s deficit has been reduced by 25 percent over the last year – when the real number is in fact three percent”.
Northern Development Critic Randy Hillier comments, “We’ve lost over 60 saw and timber mills over the last 7 years, almost all of them in Northern Ontario. This has corresponded to over 40,000 lost jobs in the forestry industry. The amount of wood processed in Ontario has been cut in half, by government decree. This amounts to over $2.5 billion in lost GDP revenue. Numerous communities have been devastated by the loss of their mills, often the largest employer in a small northern community”.
“The shutdowns were in large part attributed to government over-regulation of the forestry sector, high electricity prices, and lack of wood supply. All those factors are directly attributable to Dalton McGuinty’s government, which has throughout its 7 years in government placed a higher priority on the whims of Environmental NGOs than they have on the lives, and jobs, of those working in Ontario’s forest products sector”.
Environment Minister John Wilkinson in a press release states, “According to Ontario’s 2009 Air Quality Report emissions of common air pollutants are decreasing. Since 2003 nitrogen oxide decreased by 21 per cent or equivalent to taking three million cars off the road per year, carbon monoxide decreased by 14 per cent or equivalent to taking 350,000 cars off the road per year and sulphur dioxide decreased by 28 per cent.
“In addition, since 2003 there has been a 17 per cent decrease in fine particulate matter in the air, such as smoke, fumes, dust, and pollen,” according to the Liberal Party.
Randy Hillier says, “The majority of our ‘fine particulate matter’ pollution actually comes from the Ohio valley and the United States – with the exception of Pollen”.
Hillier adds, “There is no question that the reduction in manufacturing jobs in Ontario in 2009 has had an impact on the drop in ‘pollution’”.
The McGuinty government came under fire from First Nations this week. The nine Matawa First Nations Chiefs, including Marten Falls, Webequie and Neskantaga First Nations, recently held an emergency meeting to discuss the lack of government and industry consultation in the planning and development processes taking place in the Ring of Fire. “To our knowledge, there is not one single advanced exploration or mining agreement in place between any of our First Nations and any mining company that is exploring in the Ring of Fire area,” said Chief Roy Moonias.
Chief Sonny Gagnon of Aroland First Nation stated, “While regional municipalities from Thunder Bay to Sudbury compete for site selection for the smelter facility and construction route of a transportation corridor into our traditional territory, our First Nations who actually live in the Ring of Fire, have not yet been invited to the table to even initiate discussions over community impacts.”
Minister of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry Michael Gravelle states, “The Ring of Fire is a promising and exciting project. Its benefits will be felt across Northern Ontario and there will be significant benefits for First Nations communities, particularly for those most impacted by the potential economic benefits. I and our Ring of Fire Coordinator have been meeting with First Nation communities and leaders on a regular basis. As well, we are in the process of hiring an Aboriginal stakeholder relations person, who will be located in the Ring of Fire secretariat office in Thunder Bay. The Ring of Fire will be a significant economic development driver, and I want to see it done right, that’s why I am committed to meeting and working with First Nation communities and leaders as this project moves forward.”
As the October 2011 election date draws nearer, it is likely that there will be far more claims and counter-claims from both parties.
“Given their record of hiking taxes and doubling the debt through costly scandals and failed energy experiments, it’s no wonder the McGuinty Liberals will say anything they can to avoid having to defend their dismal record,” concluded MacLeod.