Last Week at Queen’s Park (April 7)
by MPP Jim McDonell
The Ontario government held its first cap-and-trade carbon permit auction last week, raising over $470 million from Ontario businesses. Consumers will shoulder these costs by paying more for their products and services, while our businesses will become less competitive in the global market. Experts agree that if a carbon price is going to work, it must be visible to the consumer, not hidden as the government has chosen to do. We have opposed the government’s cap-and-trade initiative, since it will siphon billions of dollars from the Ontario economy and send them to California to pay for carbon credits. We believe that any carbon price should instead be revenue neutral, offsetting other provincial taxes.
As of this past January, the federal government requires the provinces to charge a price on carbon. We cannot rush into such a policy when our US neighbours are attracting Ontario businesses with incentives, affordable energy and lighter taxes and regulation. Our leader Patrick Brown wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister requesting that Ontario’s cap-and-trade be removed from the federal carbon pricing system, stating that “it does not have Ontario’s best interests at heart.”
Members of the Legislature made several statements commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, a turning point in WWI and in our national history. Our collective identity as one valorous Canadian nation was forged in the throes of the three-day battle – the first to ever see an entirely Canadian force face the enemy. We preserve the memory of the over 10,000 Canadians who fell at Vimy by reminding ourselves of the importance of sacrifices made a century ago to protect Canada’s freedoms and rights.
The Opposition continued questioning the government on the overpaid executives at Hydro One, who are earning almost ten times that of the other provincial utilities. The government is still the majority shareholder and though their lack of oversight, are condoning the almost 500% salary increases at a time when electricity rate increases are forcing residents out of their homes. By refusing to take action the government defends the indefensible.
I also want to congratulate MPP Laurie Scott for her relentless campaign to stop human trafficking through her bill titled “Saving the Girl Next Door,” which she re-introduced again last September. Over the past year, she has criss-crossed the province meeting with law enforcement teams and social services groups to highlight the needed reforms. Had the Government worked with MPP Scott rather than seek to take the credit themselves, trafficking victims would have been protected much sooner. Well done Laurie!
The government cut the debate short on Bill 87, the Protecting Patients Act, not allowing us to bring forward more constituent feedback. I look forward to hearing more stakeholder input at Committee.
We began Third Reading of Bill 59, the Putting Consumers First Act. The bill reforms payday lending, bans some door-to-door sales and creates mandatory licensing for home inspectors. I highlighted that bans and restrictions don’t work on their own: consumers need the government to help them become informed about their rights and empowered to defend them.
On Thursday MPP Sam Oosterhoff demanded a moratorium on wind turbine development. The economic and social case for this initiative could not be stronger, yet the government voted him down. MPP Randy Pettapiece submitted Bill 105, the Rea and Walter Act to clearly identify truss and lightweight buildings. Tragedies such as the death of Ken Rea and Ray Walter, two firefighters in North Perth, who perished when an unmarked lightweight roof collapsed under their feet, could have been prevented with this Bill. All parties agreed and sent it to Committee.