Hillier – “Liberals have turned Northern Ontario into a have-not region of a have-not province”

Northern Growth Plan area map
Northern Growth Plan area map - image from Gov't of Ontario

THUNDER BAY – “The McGuinty Liberals’ Northern Growth Plan is yet another hypocrisy perpetrated by a party which has failed Northerners time and time again”, stated Randy Hillier, PC Party critic for Northern Development, Mines and Forestry. “A ‘northern’ document originally penned by George Smitherman, the growth plan will do nothing to stem the tide of a Northern recession that the Liberals have created”.

The PC critic for Northern Development, Mines and Forestry pulled no punches in his critical look at the plan. “With scores of damaging Liberal policies already put in place by the government over the past two years, it’s tough to see how the addition of a Northern think-tank is going to help create prosperity in Northern Ontario,” stated Hillier, “Dalton McGuinty’s liberals raised energy prices, flubbed the Mining Act reforms, cut off 50% of the North from all development with Bill 191 and decimated the forestry industry. What’s left for a policy institute to do?”

The PCs state, “A Conference Board of Canada report released this week showed the effect that Dalton McGuinty’s bad policies have had on Northern Ontario: It had the 2nd worst growth of any region in Canada. High energy prices have driven jobs from Northern Ontario, where industry such as mining and forestry is energy intensive. High hydro prices drove Xstrata to shut down their Timmins copper smelter last year”.

“Dalton McGuinty’s mining and forestry policies were essentially written by downtown Toronto environmental lobbyists,” charges Hillier. “That’s why we’ve lost over 60 timber mills and over 40,000 forestry jobs. That’s why Ontario has fallen from the best jurisdiction in the world for mining to 20th place. This document is lacking in specifics, but northerners have been very specific: they want jobs, and a government which listens. Right now, they have neither.” Hillier concludes, “The liberals have turned Northern Ontario into a have-not region of a have-not province.”

The Growth Plan was also panned by the New Democrats. “If the McGuinty Liberals want to study the problems facing the North, they should look in the mirror,” said Gilles Bisson MPP. “After eight years in office, the McGuinty Liberals are out of ideas, out of energy and Northerners are out of patience.”

Howard Hampton noted that today’s long-awaited growth plan is long on talk and short on action. “We don’t need a new study to tell us that McGuinty Liberals have devastated the North,” said Hampton. “For eight years they’ve driven up electricity rates, watched our jobs and resources move out of province, and driven up the cost of living with their unfair HST. This so-called plan can’t fix their colossal mess.”

Hampton also said that before the 2007 election, the McGuinty Liberals made a similar Northern Growth Plan announcement. Now, months away from another election, McGuinty Liberals are still talking about a growth plan.

“The last thing Northern families need right now is four more years of empty rhetoric from an arrogant McGuinty government,” said Hampton. “We need a government that’s ready to make life more affordable, focus on the cost of electricity, and ensure that the resources of the North stay in the North to create jobs.”

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