QUEENS PARK –Premier Ford is not taking the summer off. On Monday, July 16, 2018, a new session of the Ontario Legislature will open.
On Wednesday, July 11th, the House will meet to elect the Speaker of the Legislature.
Then on Thursday, July 12th, the Lt. Governor will deliver the Speech from the Throne outlining the goals of the Progressive Conservative government during this session.
The Premier was sworn in on June 29th. The cabinet was sworn in at that time, and the parliamentary secretaries were announced on Friday.
When the Premier was sworn in on June 29th, Premier Ford promised a new direction for Ontario.
The Premier said, “A plan that puts you first, a plan for the people of Ontario. A plan that will turn this province around and deliver on our collective vision. A vision for a brighter future, for hope and prosperity; not just for the privileged few, but for every person in Ontario. A vision for a better life. You have trusted us to keep our word, to work tirelessly every day on your behalf with integrity and transparency, and that is exactly what we’re going to do.
“To our newly sworn-in Cabinet, and to our skilled team of all-star MPPs, we have a critical task ahead of us. It will mean long days, hard work, and personal sacrifices, but I know our team is ready. We are ready to roll up our sleeves, ready to get the job done, and no matter what, we must never forget that we owe this opportunity to the people of Ontario!
“We owe this opportunity to you. You have entrusted us with the highest responsibility. You have trusted us to govern, to respect your tax dollars, to recognize that every dollar the government spends belongs to you. To represent your interest above all others, to make decisions that will make life easier, better, and more affordable. Decisions that will alter the course of our great province and impact the future of our children. It is a tremendous responsibility, and we must never lose sight of this. We must never lose sight of the duty we owe to Ontario. And above all, we must always listen; we must always respect the will of the people. And to the people of Ontario, I say this: Our government, our team, will never… we will never take this responsibility lightly. We will never forget the trust you have put in us. We will never forget who put us here and who we are accountable to.”
Several of the moves made by the new Ontario Government has raised concerns.
The decision to put the Ministry of Indigenous Services under the control of Minister Greg Rickford from Kenora rather than as a completely stand-alone Ministry have Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) expressing concern.
Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler said, “Collapsing the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation into a joint ministry with Energy, Northern Development and Mines sends a clear signal that improving relations with Indigenous Peoples is not a priority for the Ford government. It is difficult to see how progress can continue to be made when our interests are reduced to only be of importance insofar as they relate to the government’s ability to access the resources within our lands.
“This government is advised that any effort to undermine the Treaty, ancestral or territorial rights of NAN First Nations will be decisively fought at both the political and legal levels. Our leaders are united in their resolve to protect and assert our rightful authority and jurisdiction over our homelands.”
Minister Greg Rickford responded stating, “When Premier Ford asked me to serve as the Minister of Indigenous Affairs I was eager to take on the important role of working with First Nations, Inuit and Métis people in the province of Ontario.
“I am proud of my previous work with Indigenous communities and I am proud to represent so many Indigenous people in my constituency.
“Despite the media’s spin, the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs was not folded into another Ministry and it is filled with highly capable and qualified staff who will continue to serve Indigenous communities at the highest levels.
“Indigenous people across the province will have my utmost dedication as we strive to strengthen relationships, improve quality of life and expand economic opportunity for them and their communities.”