KENORA – Leaders Ledger – Like many across the province, I was surprised by Premier McGuinty’s decision to announce his resignation yesterday. While I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Premier for his more than two decades of public service, I strongly disagree with his decision to lock MPPs out from doing business in the Legislature and bring the important work that is being done to a halt.
Not only does this decision unnecessarily delay the work that is being done but it limits valuable tools, such as debates and Question Period, that we have at our disposal to hold the government accountable.
Today I was scheduled to participate in a debate with the Minister of Natural Resources to highlight the frustration and fear many people across the Northwest have about the MNR’s plan to make cuts to the number of field offices, in favour of a “regional” approach. As an outcome of this debate, I hoped to have greater insight and clarity about the MNR plan and to persuade the Minister that cutting jobs in our communities is not the answer. I intended to persuade him to maintain the 10 parks which are slotted for closure as well as the Ontario Ranger program.
The Premier’s decision to shut down parliament ensures this will not happen. It also ensures that cabinet ministers can now avoid questions on Service Ontario cuts, problems with the 30 per cent tuition rebate and the scrapping of the First Nations Ontario Works discretionary fund, among others. Decisions like these will continue to be made by cabinet ministers, but the decision to lock MPPs out of the Legislature limits the public scrutiny they could receive.
It is no secret that the decision to lock MPPs out also kills Contempt of Parliament hearings that were set to look into the decision to cancel gas plants in Mississauga and Oakville at a time when it was revealed that the costs associated with these political decisions could reach one billion dollars or more.
Later this month I was set to introduce my first Private Member’s Bill that was aimed at setting the economic conditions necessary to expand the Northern economy. The lock out kills this bill and means a new random draw will be held when we are allowed back, which could delay the bill by a year or more.
Unfortunately Mr. McGuinty has chosen to leave in a manner consistent with his recent actions, putting the Liberal Party of Ontario ahead of the hardworking people of this province.
In the coming weeks and months I will continue to ask the Premier to reinstate the legislature. Last fall, MPPs were elected to do a job- not necessarily an easy job, but an important job- and we need to go back to work. At this point, the decision to recall the Legislature is out of the hands of MPPs. I am asking people to write and call Dalton McGuinty to ask him to allow us to go back to work.
Regardless of whether we are allowed back to work or not, I will continue to try to work with members of all sides of the house and for fairness for the people living in the Northwest. We deserve better, but I will work with what we’ve got.
Sarah Campbell MPP