“In 169 days, Ontario families will have an opportunity to send a message to this government” Hillier

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Ontario Votes

Ontario VotesQUEEN’S PARK – It’s too bad that the minister didn’t give us a few more examples. He did have another seven minutes left on the clock, and I would have been glad to hear some of those other examples had he had them available.

It was interesting listening to the minister. He talked about the industry’s support for this bill. I know that the minister wasn’t at the committee hearings, hearing from industry and the municipalities in northern Ontario. But I guess I must say that the minister probably can’t see the opposition through the trees on this bill. There certainly is significant opposition to this bill—well-founded and well-justified opposition to this bill.

Over the last eight years, under Dalton McGuinty’s watch, forestry in this province of Ontario has been decimated. High hydro prices and overregulation have contributed to the loss of over 60 timber mills and the loss of over 40,000 forestry jobs. Instead of helping northern foresters, Premier McGuinty’s government seems hell-bent on causing more damage to the industry.

Last month, Premier McGuinty’s Liberals introduced the Forest Tenure Modernization Act, which will hurt foresters even further. The bill will replace sustainable forestry licences with unaccountable and bureaucratic forestry LHINs. It will allow the minister to cancel forestry licences with no compensation, no warning and no reason. Contrary to the minister’s statements, that provision still remains within the bill and has caused significant fear and uncertainty in the industry.

When stakeholders like the Ontario Forest Industries Association and the Ontario Bar Association said that the McGuinty Liberals were going to destroy the forest sector by throwing out the rule of law, the McGuinty Liberals on the committee cancelled their northern committee delegations. Last month, I tabled letters in the committee from across the north—from northern communities and councils, foresters and families. There were letters begging the Liberals to reconsider their cancelled consultations. Northerners asked the Liberal government for a fair hearing. Northern communities like Espanola, Thunder Bay and Timmins were begging the government to allow them to speak out on an issue of vital importance.

Of course, this government isn’t one to listen to anyone who isn’t a moneyed downtown Toronto lobbyist. Research by the PC caucus has shown that this bill isn’t a product of the McGuinty government at all. The root of this legislation was written by none other than a Toronto eco-lobbyist, Tom Clark, in a paper written for the Ivey Foundation. The Ivey Foundation funded Tom Clark to produce that report. We all remember the Ivey Foundation as being that organization which bragged about playing the government like a fiddle. Their mandate is to halt all forestry in the province of Ontario. It looks like the Ivey Foundation has done it once again.

The government is continuing to fiddle while the forest industry burns. Now Tom Clark has helped them create another piece of legislation which will send shockwaves through the industry. This bill is yet another nail in the coffin of the forestry sector. While the government claims this bill will help Ontario’s forestry, it was created by the very same people devoted to destruction of the forestry industry.

It was the best proof yet that Dalton McGuinty has changed. He’s not the man northerners hoped he would be. He has abandoned the north. Instead of listening, northern Liberal members began a misinformation campaign in their ridings, far from their Toronto bosses. The member—

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): I’d ask the member to restate his position, please.

Mr. Randy Hillier: Instead of listening, northern Liberal members began a campaign to deflect the legitimate concerns. The member for Algoma–Manitoulin came home and told the press that they wanted consultations at the same time that he actively cancelled them in Toronto.

These Liberal members have made clear that their loyalty is to Dalton McGuinty, not to their constituents. They made it clear when they passed the Green Energy Act, raising energy prices by 150% and forcing northerners to choose between food and heating this winter. These same high hydro prices are now causing the collapse of the forestry sector, as mills struggle to pay bills imposed upon them by an out-of-touch Liberal government. They made it clear when they passed Bill 191 with no consultations, their Far North—and no jobs—Act. While listening to northerners, the McGuinty Liberals have closed the north to all business and designated 50% of our province as off limits for any development. That piece of trickery was masterminded by another Liberal eco-lobbyist, the president of the World Wildlife Fund.

Now, Bill 151. The Liberals have decided that it’s not even worth appearing in northern Ontario. Why should they suffer the slings and arrows of the good, regular folks in communities like Sioux Lookout, Espanola or Dubreuilville? Why bother listening to people trying to save their families and their livelihoods? Why bother travelling up north when Dalton McGuinty is only trying to win seats in Toronto? The Liberals’ eco-lobbyist friends never leave Toronto, so why should the Liberal members? So the government cancelled all committee hearings in the north on Bill 151. It’s clear the McGuinty Liberals are so out of touch they think northerners need not be heard.

The good news: In 169 days, Ontario families will have an opportunity to send a message to this government: that enough is enough. Instead of dabbling in expensive energy experiments that are causing families’, seniors’ and businesses’ hydro bills to skyrocket, a Tim Hudak Ontario PC government will treat energy policy as an economic policy, not a social program. We will work to ensure that forestry in Ontario is sustainable, productive and prosperous. When it comes to making decisions about northern Ontario, the PC Party will not leave northerners out in the cold. A vote for the PC Party will be a voice for northern Ontario.

Here’s a letter from Marathon. The mayor of Marathon, frustrated with the province—their mill lost their wood. Their mill is closed.

Here’s a story from the Chronicle Journal: “Another Sawmill Bankrupt,” May 12. “Another Buchanan sawmill has entered bankruptcy,” McKenzie Forest Products in Sioux Lookout. Why? Because they couldn’t get any fibre.

That’s Marathon and Sioux Lookout. We have letters before the standing committee from the OFIA, from Ainsworth, from Espanola, from Domtar, from Eacom, from everybody in the forestry industry—Georgia-Pacific. The list goes on and on. And what did this Liberal government do in that committee hearing? They snubbed them. Not one of those legitimate, justifiable concerns about this bill were addressed during the clause-by-clause.

They even went so far—and I’ll clarify this for the minister, because obviously he didn’t read the amendment. The amendment does read that there will be a review and evaluation of the first two LFMCs and that there will only be two LFMCs. The final clause of that amendment says that this amendment “does not apply with respect to … the first two” LFMCs. So there will be no review. There will be no evaluation. Read it again, Minister. It was the most circular, convoluted and circus amendment that’s ever been put forward in front of a committee here.

Here it is from the township of Ignace: They’re opposed. The mayor of Timmins, the northern Ontario chamber of commerce, the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce, the Chiefs of Ontario, NAN: Everybody is opposed to this bill, but this government is hell-bent on ramming through another bill for the Ivey Foundation and their downtown environmental friends.

I would like the minister to stand up in this House and say, “No, it wasn’t because of Tom Clark and the Ivey Foundation,” which funded and came up with this idea. Stand up in this House and tell us that that’s not where the motivation for this bill came from, because we know that that is where the whole concept and the whole idea of creating these forestry LHINs came from: the Ivey Foundation.

I guess that really is the hallmark of a Liberal bill: not a bill that comes from broad-based consensus in a community, not a bill that comes from broad-based industry support, but from a very narrowly cast special-interest group. That’s what this Liberal government has become when it applies to northern Ontario.

Every one of these—here’s another one from the town of Cochrane, opposed to this bill. We even had the mayor of Dubreuilville here a couple of weeks ago, and the general manager of the mill in Dubreuilville, pleading for some fibre allocation, some certainty that that mill can operate and operate continuously. But no such confirmation came from this government.

I’ll put this on the record, Minister: All those mills and all those tens of thousands of jobs are not just statistics. Behind each one of those numbers is a father, a mother, a son, a daughter, a family member who is out of work and facing the hardships of your policies. It’s time for you to stand up and listen to the north. It’s time for you to bring some certainty to this industry and have some prosperity in northern Ontario.

It’s disappointing that the Liberals time-allocated this bill, it’s disappointing that they did not listen to those justifiable amendments, and it’s disappointing for northern Ontario that they will have to pick up the pieces and pay the consequences of the Ivey Foundation’s relationship with the minister.

Randy Hillier

Progressive Conservative Critic

Ministry of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry

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