QP REPORT: Liberals on defensive as changes ‘pushed’

SDSG MPP Jim McDonell. (MPP Office via Newswatch Group, File)

April was another tough month for the governing Liberal government.  They seemed to be constantly on the defensive as they cut autism and demonstrative school programs, dealt with the political donation fallout, and pushed through the budget, Ontario Pension Plan, and cap and trade legislation.

Many feel that the political donation issue was actually orchestrated by the government to handicap the two opposition parties’ fundraising efforts just as the government’s targets had been met.  Since 2014, the government has been able to essentially eliminate its political debt with high-priced and well-attended fundraising events, as corporations have paid huge amounts of money to get face time with the Premier.  The whole fundraising issue quickly went sour, as leaked documents revealed large, unaccountable government grants were often followed by large political donations from the same companies. The documents also showed cabinet ministers were assigned fund raising quotas of up to half a million dollars.  One must weigh this with the Auditor-General’s report last November that criticized the government for handing out billions of dollars to corporations with no published application process, no explanation of how they were chosen, and no ties to jobs created.  Our leader, Patrick Brown, has called for an inquiry to clear the air on the allegations, create an all-party committee to review corporate and union donations and third-party advertising issues and establish appropriate legislation.  The Ontario Elections Commissioner had previously issued reports calling for these changes following each of the last three elections, which the Liberal government chose to ignore. As the biggest beneficiary of the loose regulations, now they alone want to dictate change. It is always dangerous to allow ruling governments to singularly make revisions on how democratic elections will be held.

The government has pushed for closure on Bill 172, Cap and Trade Legislation. Along with our critic, Lisa Thompson, I sit on a committee where the government has submitted an unprecedented 70+ amendments to their bill, deleting and adding whole sections.  Our party has been clear that while there needs to be a price on carbon, it must be established as part of a greater North American plan and be revenue neutral, returning 100% back in tax cuts.  To be clear, this Liberal government does not have a revenue problem; it has a spending problem, and it is making life more expensive for all and uncompetitive for our businesses.

The Wynne Liberals are also pushing Bill 186 (the Ontario Pension Plan) through, despite a leaked government report highlighting that it will result in a loss of over 50,000 jobs per year if it is instituted.  This is nothing more than a tax grab, as without registering the contributor’s name, it allows them to spend the money as they see fit and leave future governments to figure out how they will raise the money required to pay the benefits.  It is little wonder that the federal government backed out of its campaign promise to upgrade the CPP at this time.

We also saw large numbers of concerned citizens at Queen’s Park who were opposing cuts to demonstration schools and autism programs.  Parents, who have spent time and thousands of dollars qualifying for programs, are seeing their loved ones dropped off waiting lists, no longer qualifying for assistance, as programs are changed and reduced.  These children did not create the huge government debt, but they are now being forced to pay for it.

Jim McDonell
MPP, Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry