By MPP Toby Barrett
Ring out the old, ring in the new
Ring out the old, ring in the new,…
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws…
– Alfred, Lord Tennyson
As curtains close on 2011, there is much to reflect on that many will not soon forget. At the same time we look forward to 2012 marking the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the Bicentennial of the War of 1812.
To celebrate the extraordinary year to come, Cari and I will be hosting our New Year’s Levee on Sunday, January 8 at our home near Port Dover – 311 Cockshutt Road, just North of the St. Johns.
Now back to 2011. In our area, overriding issues included of green energy, wind electricity, and the price we are all paying.
In January I reported, “Mr. McGuinty’s expensive energy schemes – including the smart meter tax machine and the Samsung deal”, would, according to the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters drive the family electricity bill up, “another $732 a year by 2015.”
Issues of energy continued into February when Ontario Power Generation commented on extending the lifeline of Nanticoke OPG, leading to a Toronto Star article: Coal plants could burn gas, grass. Later, the Premier began to show signs that his expensive energy experiments failed, calling for a halt to offshore wind projects in Ontario.
After five years of Occupy Caledonia, government continues to hide from my questions in the Legislature. “Today, never used, white elephant power towers march into Caledonia, unfinished, worthless and wireless; five years of trestles from these power towers being used as blockades, festooned with warrior flags.”
Years of persistence and tractor rallies paid off with a risk management program for farmers in the spring budget. But, Ontario’s 2011 budget only furthered the McGuinty government’s spending, tallying a $16.7 billion deficit and leaving Ontario flat broke with a $200 plus billion debt. During this budget debate I was escorted out of the Legislative Chamber – a first for me in 15 years. My offence? After watching Ontario residents fooled twice on McGuinty pre-election claims of no tax increases I predicted he would be a “three-peat liar”.
Pre-election was highlighted by a $20 million settlement in the class action lawsuit of Caledonia residents and businesses. I spent much of the writ period doing what I do during much of the pre-writ – knocking on doors. The onslaught of industrial wind towers, lack of jobs, high taxes, and paying the bills dominated conversations at the door.
Locally, the election score came in at PC 61 per cent, NDP 19, and Liberal 17 – voters did place a governor on Mr. McGuinty by limiting him to a minority.
As 2011 drew to a close – area issues continued to heat up: Misners Dam, Port Dover Composite School and Bick’s. Locally, we yet again showcased our agri-business potential by winning the Legislative Assembly wine tasting with Burning Kiln’s Strip Room red.
In the New Year I look forward to using my new role as Critic for the Ministry of Community and Social Services to highlight issues faced by our most vulnerable, while continuing to concentrate on holding the line on government waste. Please continue to forward ideas to reign in government spending while boosting our capacity for private sector economic activity.