Ontario’s Throne Speech – ‘Is That All There Is?’

A Commentary by Doug Draper

Posted September 12th, 2016 on Niagara At Large

“Is that all there is,” asked Peggy Lee in her song.  “If that’s all there is my friends, Then let’s keep dancing, Let’s break out the booze and have a ball , If that’s all there is.”

Ms. Lee could have sang that song this September 12th for Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Throne Speech, billed since she prorpogued the provincial legislature on September 9th to make way for it, as her chance to reboot her government’s flailing agenda since one of her Liberal candidates got the boot from voters in a recent Greater Toronto Area by-election.

Of course, Wynne did not actually deliver her speech. That was done by

Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Ontario's Lieutenant Governor, doing her thing for the Queen. And please try not to snore while she's doing it.

Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor, doing her thing for the Queen. And please try not to snore while she’s doing it.

, the “representative of Her Majesty the Queen,” who would be God’s gift to curing insomnia across the province if you could talk TV Ontario into having her on all night reading chapters of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations.

Dowdeswell reminds me of a teacher I had in hight school who repeatedly had to interrupt herself to say; “Class! Pay attention! I don’t think it ever once fizzled on her that her delivery was so bad, she could read the most stirring passages from Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have A Dream’ speech and still bore the crap out of everybody around her.

Nothing against the Queen, but as one Canadian who keeps wondering when our country growing past being wet nursed by the Crown and showing a little more maturity as we approach the 150th birthday of our Confederation, I no longer wanta representative of the Queen reading speeches for our premiers and prime ministers anyway. Let our premiers and prime ministers stop calling these addresses ‘Throne speeches’ and start calling them ‘State of Canada’ or ‘State of Ontario’ (or whatever other province it is) addresses.

And let THEM read the thing rather than sit there with self-satisfied smiles on their faces while the trained seals in their parties applaud and while someone like Dowdeswell has the rest of us trying not to snore.

With Wynne's Liberal government it has continued to be full speed ahead with selling off Ontario's valuable hydro power infrastructure to private corporations despite opposition from the public and opposition parties in the legislature

With Wynne’s Liberal government it has continued to be full speed ahead with selling off Ontario’s valuable hydro power infrastructure to private corporations despite opposition from the public and opposition parties in the legislature

Besides, does anyone really think the Queen of England is going to take time out from whatever else she has to read the speech herself before it is delivered by one of her surrogates half way around the world! She’s got better things to do, like feed her horses. And God save the Queen if she took time to read what Wynne dished out this September 12th.

Rather than go over much of it myself, I’m going to let Wynne’s public statement and a link to the speech (all available in the space below) speak for themselves.

But I can’t help but say what a slap this speech is to those expecting any real action on soaring hydro rates in the province. The $130 annual “rebate” that will be returned to a “typical household” to take the sting out of the sky rocketing Ontario Hydro bills residents have been getting over the past number of years – adding up to little more than 10 bucks and change a month – is an obscene joke.

And the hydro bills of everyday Ontario residents just continue going up, up and way up past the rate of inflation

And the hydro bills of everyday Ontario residents just continue going up, up and way up past the rate of inflation

On another matter, there is almost nothing here to help college and university students who are drowning in debt, paying pornographic prices for textbooks and, under Wynne, continue to be forced to perform slave labour for the government’s business budies – all under the guise of an “unpaid internship” – before they receive their diplomas.

Of course, Wynne and her Liberal government shows again, through this speech, that it still hasn’t got the courage to do the fairest thing to raise revenues to offset the cost hydro, health care and education. That thing is raising income taxes which are, after all, a progressive tax on those most able to afford to pay.

Nor is there a word of interest here in going after millionaires and billionaires who are allowed, under the current rigged laws, to fly their profits off to tax havens in order to avoid paying taxes here.

In Wynne's Ontario, post-secondary have remained "basic income units" - BTUs - ripe for exploitation.

In Wynne’s Ontario, post-secondary have remained “basic income units” – BTUs – ripe for exploitation.

This Throne Speech was probably the last chance for the Wynne government to win back enough public support to win the next provincial election, now two years away. My bet now is that this government will get creamed in the next election and the Tories will be back in power since NDP Leader Andrea Horwath appears no more capable of putting together a platform that is progressive and exciting for the electric than she was for the last two elections.

I hope I am wrong about the Tories winning and the NDP remaining stuck in third place again, but I am very much afraid that I am not wrong.

Now here is the statement from the Ontario Premier and the link to her Throne speech

Balanced Plan Will Build Ontario Up and Help People in Their Everyday Lives

As part of its balanced plan to build Ontario up and help people in their everyday lives, the Ontario government intends to introduce legislation that, if passed, would rebate an amount equal to the provincial portion of the HST on residential, farm and small business electricity bills as of January 1, 2017. Rural electricity ratepayers would receive additional relief and commercial, institutional and industrial ratepayers would also benefit from lower electricity costs.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne fires blank bullets with Throne speech

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne fires blank bullets with Throne speech

The government also announced that it will create an additional 100,000 licensed infant to preschool child care spaces within the next five years, starting in 2017.

The government’s plan was outlined in the Speech from the Throne delivered today by the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor. The speech opened the second session of the province’s 41st parliament.

The plan will continue to create economic growth and good jobs — the government’s number-one priority. The government will also balance the budget next year, in 2017-18, and Ontario’s debt-to-GDP ratio will decline — a sign of economic strength and fiscal responsibility.

The government’s plan will help people in their everyday lives by:

  • Delivering electricity cost relief through legislation to rebate an amount equal to the provincial portion of the HST on electricity bills — a saving of about $130 annually for the typical Ontario household; eligible rural ratepayers would receive additional relief, resulting in average savings of about $45 a month or $540 a year. Eligible small businesses would also benefit from the rebate and eligible larger businesses would also benefit from the plan through the expansion of the Industrial Conservation Initiative
  • Starting in 2017, creating an additional 100,000 licensed child care spaces for 0- to 4-year-olds within the next five years, bringing the number of spaces created since 2013 to 156,000 and doubling the current capacity for the 0-4 age group
  • Putting a new emphasis on math skills, expanding experiential learning, implementing free tuition for thousands of low- and middle-income students and encouraging more young people to turn their good ideas int o start-up companies
  • Investing in skills training that aligns with the job market of today and tomorrow
  • Continuing to increase nursing care hours to enhance home care, reducing wait times for specialists, and connecting a family doctor or nurse practitioner to every Ontarian who wants one
  • Continuing to make historic infrastructure investments in schools, hospitals, roads, bridges and transit
  • Building a competitive business environment driven by innovative, low-carbon industries, including attracting international investment, continuing to cut red tape and implementing a cap and trade program to help people and businesses fight climate change
  • Continuing to work with its federal and provincial partners to enhance the Canada Pension Plan

The Throne Speech outlines the next steps in the government’s economic plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number-one priority to grow the economy and create jobs.

The four-part plan includes helping more people get and create the jobs of the future by making a high-quality college and university education more affordable.

The plan is making the largest infrastructure investment in hospitals, schools, roads, bridges and transit in Ontario’s history and is building a low-carbon economy driven by innovative, high-growth, export-oriented businesses. The plan is also helping working Ontarians achieve a more secure retirement.

QUICK FACTS

  • Over the last two years, Ontario’s economy has grown by 6.1 per cent
  • In the first quarter of this year, Ontario’s real GDP growth was higher than that of the United States and all other G7 countries
  • Ontario unemployment this year has reached an eight-year low
  • In September 2014, the Premier’s mandate letters to ministers — 30 in total — were made available to the public for the first time. Mandate letters outline the specific priorities for each member of cabinet and their ministry. The Premier will be releasing new mandate letters to ministers in the coming weeks.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

“Ontario’s economy is still in transition, but our recovery is firmly on track. While many are benefiting from the growth we’ve achieved, others have yet to share in Ontario’s resurgence. Our government understands the challenges people face and shares their concerns. With our balanced and proven plan to build Ontario up, we begin this new legislative session focused on economic growth that creates good jobs and committed to delivering real benefits and more inclusive growth that will help more people in their everyday lives.”  — Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario

Visit Niagara At Large at www.niagaraatlarge.com for more news and commentary for and from the greater bi-national Niagara region.

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