The Liberal Government pushes through Legislation with Limited Debate

December 1, 2014

by Jim McDonell

November is always a somber month with the numerous Remembrance Day ceremonies across the riding. I was honoured to be able to attend many of them as we remembered the sacrifices that many in Stormont, Dundas and South Glengarry made during the past two centuries. Unfortunately, we are still calling on our youth to stand up for the freedoms of people around the world.

Back at Queen’s Park, we saw a new trend as we saw the Wynne Government execute time allocation motions on six bills, resulting in limited debate and public hearings.   Of particular note, Bill 8, Public Sector and MPP Accountability and Transparency Act, 2014 was being pushed through when the Liberal government was being anything but accountable and transparent. The Liberal dominated Justice Committee forced the cut-off of witnesses in the gas plant cancellation and destruction of government records before the three key witnesses could be heard. In addition, we heard from the Irwin Elman, the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, that the government is refusing to grant him the investigative powers that he needs to look into issues affecting our most vulnerable segment of the population. He is asking for the same powers that his counterparts in all the other provinces and all other commissioners in Ontario are granted, including the Ombudsman, Auditor-General and the French Languages Services Commissioner. After years of negotiations with the ministry, he has been instructed to direct his efforts to amending the proposed legislation. Our party has been working on amendments and we will see if the government is interested on following through with them.   We are seeing over and over again, a government that says one thing, but does another.

We also heard the Finance Minister, Charles Sousa deliver the Fall Economic Update which is a statement designed to report on the impact of the current year’s Budget, provide important information regarding the health of Ontario’s economy and to lay the groundwork for next year’s Budget. Given that the previous Budget was only passed four months ago, the Government’s realization that tax revenue will be $509 million short of July’s predictions is concerning. The Minister promised more spending despite the shortfall and let slip that taxes may be raised in the future to cover the growing debt. This past week, the government began talking about the merits of a carbon tax and are refusing to rule it out. At a time when industry is telling us that they are no longer able to compete with our neighbours due to the high cost of energy and payroll taxes and the massive burden of red-tape regulation, it is the wrong time to be hitting the economy with another tax.

I have always been clear that when interest payments are the third largest spending item on the Budget after healthcare and education, the Government needs to tackle its spending problem and make the tough decisions required to bring the debt down. We are mortgaging our children’s and grandchildren’s future prospects to pay for current expenses, and it can’t continue.