THUNDER BAY – The echos of frustration over hearings for Bill 151 continue. Thunder Bay-Atikokan Progressive Conservative candidate Dr. Fred Gilbert expressed his outrage today over the final day of hearings on Bill 151 – Ontario’s Forest Tenure Modernization Act. “It is unacceptable that the McGuinty Liberals allowed these hearings to take place without any further direct consultation hearings with the voters it would impact the greatest.”
Municipal leaders and organizations across the north have expressed their exasperation with the Liberal government’s lack of consideration for the communities that have been devastatingly impacted by mill closures and massive job losses. And the most disheartening element is that Thunder Bay area MPPs have been less than supportive on the issue.
Both Liberal incumbents Bill Mauro and Michael Gravelle have not addressed the concerns expressed regarding the lack of hearings in the north other than to say that videoconferencing is available for people to connect to the Toronto hearings. This is particularly disconcerting as the bill was substantially revised after the hearings that were held in the north. Dr. Gilbert questioned whether the Liberals were hoping that the Toronto hearings would prevent northerners from “responding to the new details of the bill”.
“It’s not surprising that Mauro and Gravelle are defending this tactic and their leader,” said Dr. Gilbert. “Time and time again, Dalton McGuinty has proven that northern Ontario is not a top priority on his government’s agenda. The Liberal track record is filled with disappointments for northern residents, such as Bill 191 – the Far North Act, which will cut 50% of the north from development, the Green Energy Act, which has sent hydro rates through the roof and a Northern Growth Plan that is just another planning plan not an action plan.”
These are the final hearings before the legislation goes to third reading. And Dr. Gilbert went on to say, “this is a slap in the face to all unemployed forestry workers and northern communities who deserve to have their voices heard, and semi-believed all the rhetoric that the McGuinty government threw at them in the Northern Growth Plan.”
“This October, Northerners will have a choice: more broken promises with the McGuinty Liberals, or a reinvigorated government under the leadership of Progressive Conservative Tim Hudak.”