QUEEN’S PARK – In the last provincial election, Bill Mauro, the MPP for Thunder Bay Atikokan was in the fight for his political life. Over the past year, you can see how the veteran politician has seemingly shifted toward making sure people know more about what he has done over the past term in office.
An example came on June 1st during Question Period in the Ontario Legislature.
Here is the exchange from Question Period:
Mr. Bill Mauro: My question is for the Minister of Economic Development and Trade. Northern ridings were overlooked for a very long time until our government came to power in 2003. Over the past eight years, we’ve seen record levels of investment in my riding of Thunder Bay–Atikokan and ridings right across the north. Now the opposition would like to give northerners a stronger voice and would like to focus on bringing jobs and investment to the north—or at least that’s what it says in their slick book.
When our government brought forward a significant support package for forestry in northern Ontario and auto in southern Ontario, the opposition called it corporate welfare. When our government increased the northern Ontario heritage fund from $60 million to $100 million every year, in stark contrast to the NDP, which that took all $60 million away from the northern Ontario heritage fund—
The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): The member from Lanark will withdraw the comment that he just made.
Mr. Randy Hillier: Withdraw.
The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): The interjection from the Minister of Community Safety is not helpful.
Please get to your question.
Mr. Bill Mauro: Our government increased the northern Ontario heritage fund from $60 million to $100 million every year, in stark contrast to the NDP, who took all $60 million away. They voted against it.
Minister, please outline some of the supports our government has brought forward for my riding of Thunder Bay–Atikokan and all northern ridings.
Hon. Sandra Pupatello: It is important to note—especially today as we are walking away from a recession that none of us have seen before and recognizing the strength that is coming from the north, in particular because the Ontario government chose to partner with northern communities—when we increased that northern heritage fund from $60 million to $100 million, the opposition voted against that initiative. I find it pretty interesting that they are doing flip-flops of Herculean proportion now because they want to go and tell the people of the north that somehow they support them. We know that a billion dollars to the forestry sector was necessary, as it was to the auto industry, and yet the opposition members opposed that.
Today, another flip-flop of epic proportion: They want to tell the north they’re in favour of all of these jobs—
The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. Supplementary?
Mr. Bill Mauro: It’s important to remind northern Ontario residents how the PC Party has flip-flopped on job creation and economic growth not only in northern Ontario but right across the province.
We’ve seen the members opposite publicly declare their opposition to the green energy industry, including, I would suspect, opposition to the conversion of the two coal plants in my riding of Thunder Bay–Atikokan—plants they have committed to closing. This represents 230 jobs saved, millions in tax base to the communities of Thunder Bay and Atikokan, and about $300 million in construction work for the building trade unions in my community. The members opposite have established the fact that they would get rid of the FIT programs and renege on a Samsung deal—$7 billion of private sector investment.
Minister, if these statements become reality, what would this mean for those people employed within Ontario’s green energy industry?
Hon. Sandra Pupatello: I think it is our job to let people know that when the Leader of the Opposition makes his statement in his slim book or slick book or whatever he’s calling it, he is killing jobs today in Ontario. We are meeting investors today whom he is having an impact on because he’s telling them that that FIT rate will no longer be, that he’s going to rip up contracts. We know that manufacturers who are busy making investments today need to know that there is a stable climate for investment—not what the opposition party or parties are offering.
This is important. These jobs matter. Is it the 230 affiliated with a northern community? Is it the thousands across the green industry jobs? The Leader of the Opposition is job-killing with his slim book, and it’s our job to make sure people know about it. We cannot trust the opposition parties—
The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. New question.