Brown brings a bit of fresh air to Queen’s Park

By MPP Toby Barrett
Newly-elected MPP Patrick Brown brings a bit of fresh air with his arrival at Queen’s Park. As Opposition Leader, he is repositioning an approach unique to his work ethic and leadership style.

In his first news conference of the session, he stressed: “We’re going to be sincere – I believe there is a thirst for sincerity in Ontario,”

After his party leadership win last May, Brown was elected MPP in Simcoe North – a riding bordering the one he held federally.

The voters in Simcoe North spoke definitively, and rejected the attacks of a Liberal smear campaign targeting social issues that have long been settled. Despite being up against a big spending machine, Brown’s vote soared 10 points – the Liberals dropped.

During his first Queen’s Park speech, Brown committed to deal with the job-killing payroll tax, Ontario’s have-not status, numerous credit rating downgrades, and skyrocketing electricity rates.

Brown’s interest, as is mine, remains economic. I consider myself a fiscal conservative and am very pleased to be appointed back to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs.

Sensible, pragmatic policy is needed to put us back on track – affordable electricity, less red tape and better transportation infrastructure.

As Official Opposition, we are united to ensure a strong voice in the Legislature – instrumental to build a majority government in 2018.

Patrick Brown’s first Question Period focused on electricity: “Over and over again, the people of Ontario have made it clear: our energy rates are too high. It is costing the province jobs and it is costing the people of Ontario the opportunity to thrive and succeed. Why has the Premier allowed Ontario’s hydro rates to drive jobs away?

On Hydro One: “The public does not support this fire sale. The Liberals should hit the pause button, given the overwhelming public opposition.”

Government’s stalled negotiations with the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario is also on Brown’s radar: “The early years of childhood education are the most important to development.  It is extremely disappointing that Premier Wynne continues to leave parents worried and uncertain on whether public elementary students will stay in the classroom and challenged government to come back to the table and avoid the possibility of an escalated work-to-rule campaign.  It is unacceptable to put at risk any education services for Ontario’s 800,000 public elementary students.”

In addition to the Finance Committee, Patrick Brown has appointed me Caucus Chair, the Critic for Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Chair of the Opposition’s Private Member’s Bill Review Committee as well as the Party’s Caucus Representative for South Central Ontario.

As Critic for Agriculture, I will focus on common sense policies that are in the best interests of people – making living and doing business in Ontario more affordable. My goal is to highlight and expose the ever-growing burden red tape is placing on agri-business, and also to create avenues to continue to promote food literacy in schools. My first question of this session was on neonics, pointing out the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs is not standing up for farmers.

My additional responsibilities certainly don’t take away from issues facing the people of Haldimand-Norfolk. My second question this past week was on the construction shutdown of the Cayuga bridge. I will continue to hold the government to account on this one.