KENORA – From Queen’s Park – This past week MPPs returned to the legislature after the four month long lockout imposed by Dalton McGuinty. On our first day back, Ontario’s new premier, Kathleen Wynne, released her Speech from the Throne, outlining her goals for the upcoming session.
From Queen’s Park – Throne Speech / Gas Plants
My initial reaction was surprise, followed by frustration. While it is common for throne speeches to lack details about the new programs or ideas the government is championing, this particular speech lacked clear goals that the new Premier hoped to accomplish.
A number of issues that people in the northwest identified as key priorities were mentioned in the speech, but the obvious omission was any form of commitment one way or the other.
For example, the speech mentioned home care, auto insurance, corporate tax fairness, and youth employment as issues, but only mentioned “understanding” “expanding access” to home care, “protecting individuals” against fraud and “working” to reduce auto insurance rates, working to “evaluate” corporate tax compliance and to work with partners to help young people “find placements, internships and co-op programs.”
In contrast, my colleagues and I have set specific, practical and achievable priorities for this session, including a 5 day home care guarantee, a 15% reduction in auto insurance, closing corporate tax loopholes and a First Start job creation and training program to help young people obtain long-term employment.
Just as we started to delve into the priorities of the session, the Minister of Energy stood up and announced that more documents had been discovered that hadn’t previously been disclosed about the Liberal Party’s mid-election decision to cancel two gas plants in Southern Ontario so they could save a few seats.
This is the third time Ontarians have been assured by this government that we have been given all of the related documents. Despite promises that she would do business differently than her predecessor, Wynne, who was the co-chair of the Liberal campaign team that made the decision to cancel the plant, has refused to call a public inquiry into the cancellation.
Arrogance, gamesmanship and lack of commitment
The arrogance, gamesmanship and lack of commitment are disturbingly similar, which begs the questions: is Wynne’s government any different than McGuinty’s, and are the Liberals truly concerned about the challenges facing the people of this province or are they only concerned about saving their own political fortunes?
If they are concerned about Ontarians, they will immediately put an end to this sideshow that has taken over the Legislature by calling an inquiry into the cancellation of the gas plants. We need to know who made the decision, why, and how much it has cost us. We need to know how something like this can happen in a democratic society such as ours and figure out what safeguards we need to put in place to prevent it from happening again. And, just as importantly, we need to deal with the issue right now, outside of the Legislature, so that we can immediately get back to the important work we were sent here to accomplish: to return Ontario to the level of prosperity it once had, and to correct issues like those raised in the throne speech.
Sarah Campbell MPP