As we say Goodbye to 2014

January 5, 2015

By Jim McDonell

As we usher in the New Year, it’s time to reflect back on the events of the previous year.  The world’s economy continues to reveal serious concerns, highlighting the need to have our own house in order.  Unfortunately, Ontario’s house is far from being in order and we see no evidence of this Liberal government taking the tough steps needed to address the problems.

The year started with a police investigation into the destruction of government records surrounding the gas plant cancellations.  While denying knowledge of the deletions, the Liberals used all available tools to avoid hearing from key Liberal insiders at the Justice Committee.  After the OPP revealed last month that the Liberal party had used taxpayers’ donations to pay an IT expert, a friend of the former Premier’s assistant, to permanently delete government records, the Liberal party agreed to repay the $10,000 to Ontario taxpayers.

In March the community was shocked by the announced closure of the Alfred and Kemptville Agricultural College campuses, just days after the Premier called on the agri-food sector to create thousands of new jobs.  While they have since saved the 60 student positions at Alfred, the over 400 student spaces at Kemptville are still scheduled to close this year.  The agri-food industry is Ontario’s number one employer and this is a huge loss for Eastern Ontario and our ability to compete and grow in this highly competitive world market.

In early December, the Auditor–General released another critical report on the Liberal government’s record and confirmed that they have made a mess of the energy file.  She highlighted the $50 billion cost of the Global Adjustment Tax since 2006 and the $2 billion squandered on smart meters.  With our skyrocketing energy rates, reflected in the highest industrial electricity rates in North America, the highest payroll taxes in North America, and Ontario’s high cost of regulation, it is little wonder that we have seen our once strong manufacturing sector decimated.

The Auditor–General also questioned the government’s ability to meet their commitment of eliminating the deficit by 2017-2018.  Our debt over the past ten years, has been driven up to unprecedented levels, over $20,000 for every man, woman and child.  They have doubled it since taking over government, in spite of the fact that they have also doubled the revenue they receive from taxes and transfers.  Our province’s ability to weather another economic downturn has been severely damaged by this government’s squandering of billions of dollars, as reflected in another credit downgrade in December.  The government has promised to address the deficit and we are committed to ensuring that they meet this commitment, as our future depends on it.

The recent municipal elections have generated considerable changes around our region’s council tables.  I want to take this opportunity to thank the retiring members for their contributions and look forward to working with the new and returning councillors and mayors.  I also look forward to meeting as many of you as possible throughout the year, to hear your comments and concerns, so that I can voice them for you at Queen’s Park.  In closing, I would like to wish all the residents of Stormont, Dundas and South Glengarry a very healthy, prosperous and Happy New Year.