As we begin, with apprehension and expectation, to ponder the year ahead, we may wish to reflect on the year just past.
2010 kicked off with 35,000 Ontario kids to be enrolled in all-day everyday kindergarten. The Grand Erie District School Board approved nine of its schools while the Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board approved four. Premier McGuinty also proposed year-round daycare for four and five year-olds, only to announce a back-track by the end of the year.
In February, following a court ruling to drop charges against OPP Commissioner Fantino, Opposition Leader Tim Hudak and I expressed dismay that a case of alleged influence by elected officials in Caledonia was not referred to an outside Crown Attorney. Soon after, we in Opposition made a call for an apology to the people of Caledonia – an apology for the fear, intimidation, lawlessness and economic loss from the ongoing land dispute. On the four-year anniversary, Tim Hudak stated “The Hamilton Spectator [reports] the McGuinty government plans to hand over the Douglas Creek Estates to the Six Nations, the Ontario PC caucus opposes this move. We believe it is the wrong thing to do.”
On the Steelworkers/US Steel front, after close to a year-long work stoppage, I asked the premier directly, “Have you or has your minister met with the company? Have you met with the Steelworkers? Have you taken any steps whatsoever to save these jobs?…..Families are being split apart, people are losing their homes.” April 16 saw the resolution of the dispute that had seen 1,100 laid off and 157 locked out.
Last winter I stepped up demands for action on Highway #6 between Port Dover and Jarvis, noting that, “the road is collapsing”- subsequently several section of the highway have been repaved.
By the end of March we learned of an Ontario budget deficit of $21.3 billion. The. McGuinty government is irresponsibly on course to double the debt by 2012.
Also in March, I introduced legislation to keep more money in the hands of working ODSP recipients, and encourage employers to hire those with disabilities. That same month, many of us raised concerns about government pressure on small-town drug stores.
And we turned up the heat to restore planning act oversight powers to municipalities for green energy projects like wind farms.
April saw Mr. McGuinty scrapping his plans for sex education for six-year-olds.
In May, Simcoe and area paid tribute to Petty Officer Douglas Craig Blake – the 143rd Canadian soldier to be killed as part of the Afghan mission. We’ve been in Afghanistan nine years now.
Once the Legislature closed, I launched an outreach campaign in Cultus, Fairground, Glen Meyer, Guysborough, and Frogmore. The following week we hit doors in Teeterville, Kelvin, Windham Centre, LaSalette, Rattlesnake Harbour and beyond. Door after door we heard the same thing – concern for the impact of taxes, and lack of jobs.
As the first half of the year came to a close Mr. McGuinty welcomed the summer season with not one but two separate taxes – the HST and the eco fee – both landing on Canada Day.
To be continued . . .