Swinging into summer and the passing of fall

By MPP Toby Barrett

Six months ago MPPs returned to Queen’s Park for a rare summer sitting to begin turning our province around. The change in administration set the stage for an accountable government that will work for everyone.

The summer sitting of the Ontario Legislature gave me an opportunity to rise and pay tribute to John Graves Simcoe – Ontario’s first Lieutenant-Governor. He fought in the American War of Independence and interacted with such notable figures as George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Benedict Arnold.

In September, my Private Members Bill concerning alternate land use services and programs on agricultural land received all-party support. The proposed legislation requires the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry to develop a framework and action plan on how agricultural land can be used to create clean air, clean water, healthy soil, and a better environment for the good of all society.

Also in September, Premier Doug Ford announced a program to facilitate natural gas expansion in rural and northern Ontario through a partnership with local communities and private partners. Switching to natural gas can save the average customer between $800 and $2,500 a year.

One of the first orders of business when we formed government was to axe the carbon tax. Today gas prices are the lowest we have seen in some time.   

The Making Ontario Open for Business Act introduced in October will enable Ontario employers to boost job creation and investment by cutting unnecessary regulations that are inefficient, inflexible and out of date.

In the spirit of remembrance, in November I paid tribute in the House to the bravery and skill of Canadian military snipers past and present. During the Great War, Metis Henry Louis Norwest was a famed Canadian sniper. In trench conflict, he needed excellent marksmanship with the ability to camouflage and stay still for long periods. Lance Corporal Norwest made 115 kills and earned two military medals. Norwest was killed by a German—also a sniper.

I have also drafted a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in support of building a memorial to Canadian veterans of Afghanistan. Over 40,000 Canadians bravely served in the war in Afghanistan, with 159 making the ultimate sacrifice. Premier Doug Ford committed to building a memorial honouring the bravery and sacrifice of our Afghan veterans.

Over the years, I have stressed the need to teach basic math skills and in November this was addressed in the Safe and Supportive Schools Act, 2018. The legislation also requires math testing for new teachers and accommodates service dogs in all schools.

Question Period also gave me a chance to highlight that our government has established Ontario 511 where drivers can track their plow and plan their route all in one stop.

Since June, we have accomplished much but there is much more work to do. As people, as a province, our potential is limitless. We are blessed with an abundance of natural resources, blessed with the smartest and hardest working people to be found anywhere. There is a reason to be proud of the incredible province we inherited from our forefathers. And we must work every day as a province, as a people, to create a better Ontario for our children and for their children.

Toby Barrett is MPP for Haldimand Norfolk