This week at Queen’s Park (Aug. 10)
by MPP Jim McDonell
TORONTO — Another week went by at Queen’s Park with the government’s key agenda items making their way through the House. We continued debating Bill 4, the Cap and Trade Cancellation Act, as well as Bill 5, the Better Local Government Act. I am honoured to serve on the side of a government that implements key promises made to Ontarians, however the summer session has kept me away from many community events that take place during the summer months. I certainly look forward to wrapping up the important work on our immediate priorities and returning to the region full-time to meet with residents and have more opportunities to hear their concerns directly.
The government took action to implement another promise made to Ontarians in the lead-up to the June election by announcing the lowering of the minimum retail price for beer to $1, the same level it was at in 2008. The regulation change will not change the amount of provincial tax on a bottle or can of beer, but will allow producers more flexibility in pricing their product and conducting promotional campaigns. There is a principle involved and it is about reducing unnecessary layers of red-tape. The program is voluntary and is up to each brewer whether or not they want to participate. Our Buck-A-Beer initiative is a tangible example that doing what’s right isn’t always difficult or complex. I do want to reaffirm our commitment to responsibility and road safety. We are trusting consumers to make mature and responsible decisions, but there remains zero tolerance for those who do not. Ontarians can look forward to more promises being kept.
The issue of gun violence dominated public discourse for months, yet the previous government had persisted in frustrating our police services and perpetuating inefficiencies in our judicial system that saw dangerous criminals released within a day back onto the streets. Where others would put rhetoric and politics first, our government decided to put safety first and tackle the problem of gun and gang violence head-on with the tools at our disposal. On Thursday, the government announced that not only would the previous government’s $12 million anti-gang program cut be reversed, but we are more than doubling our efforts to fight gangs and guns with $25 million in new funding over the next 4 years. Our neighbourhoods deserve to be safe. To that end, we will give local police the best digital, investigative and analytic tools they need to fight crime with modern techniques, and create dedicated legal teams to ensure dangerous criminals are kept behind bars, no matter which courthouse they appear in. Organised and violent crime isn’t just Toronto’s problem: this blight spills over into every community in Ontario and must be fought throughout the Province.
This summer sitting of the House demonstrated a government committed to talking less and doing more for Ontarians. I will continue working with my colleagues to ensure prompt and meaningful action is taken to address the many issues our residents face daily.