A Commentary by NAL publisher Doug Draper
Posted November 16th, 016 on Niagara At Large
This Thursday, November 17, voters in the two Ontario ridings of Niagara West-Glanbrook and Ottawa-Vanier where provincial byelections were recently called, have the opportunity to do all Ontarians a favour and send a powerful message to the Liberal government of Premier Kathleen Wynne that we are as mad as hell and aren’t going to take its smug, morally bankrupt, dictatorial ways any more.
In that spirit, this news commentator (who started out having what I know admit were naïve hopes that Wynne get out from under the shadow of former boss hog Dalton McGuinty and be a good premier for Ontario), urges voters in these two ridings to go to the polls this Novmember 17th and deliver the Wynne Liberals in both of them a crushing defeat.
So crushing, let’s hope, that it serves as a prelude to a total meltdown of the Wynne Liberals in the next general provincial election scheduled to take place on or before June 7th, 2018.
The candidates running in the Niagara West-Glanbrook riding this November 17th include – Donna Cridland for the Green Party, Mike Thomas for the NDP, San Oosterhoff for the Progressive Conservatives and Vicky Ringuette for the Liberals.
And yes, when I say vote for any of them but the one running Liberal, I’ve read all the news that Oosterhoff has extreme “social conservative” views when it comes to his opposition to abortion and the current sex education curriculum in Ontario’s public schools .
They are views I certainly can’t accept, but when I weight that against the record of deception and scandal that stains the Wynne and McGuinty regimes, , I would rather deal with a politician and party where we at least I have an idea where they stand (even if, in Oosterthoff’s, Tory leader Patrick Brown has been trying to steer attention away from the more extreme, holy roller stuff) than a premier and company that govern in a fog of double talk and deception.
As for the Liberal candidate in the Niagara West riding, Vicky Ringuette may be a very nice and well-meaning person in her own right. But she is running for the wrong party at the wrong time, and there are many reasons why she and the Liberal candidate in the Ottawa area riding should be sent packing this November 17th.
Here are but a few of those reasons –
- I start with one of the most obvious ones – the runaway hydro rate hikes in Ontario that havexacted a particularly cruel toll on rural residents, on people on low and fixed incomes, and on businesses that find it ever harder to stay open and compete with businesses across the Canada/U.S. border, and in other jurisdictions of Canada. Neo-cons like to place most of the blame for these hikes on solar and wind energy projects, but the root of the problem is how incompetently McGuinty and Wynne regimes have managed the shift to renewable energy, along with the suspiciously high costs of contracts McGuinty/Wynne and company have signed with private sector partners in the wind and power energy business.
- On a related note around those unsustainablly high hydro hikespassed on to Ontario consumers, let’s not forget to factor in the hundreds of millions of dollars it cost when Liberals pulled the plug on constructing two gas-fired energy plants in ridings in the Mississauga and Oakville areas just prior to the 2011provincial election in order to save the bacon of Liberal candidates coming up against opposition to the plants being located there. By now in the United States (note the far more recent scandal involving the governor of New Jersey ‘s staff closing lanes on the George Washington Bridge for political reasons), there would be charges, convictions and people heading off to jail by now. But not in Ontario, where are cops and courts have this way of suddenly getting flat footed when it comes to going after individuals who are or have held high political office.
- For those who want to risk seeing hydro rates leap even higher, re-elect Ontario Liberals and watch Wynne and company move forward with plans to spend billions of dollars upgrading and expanding nuclear power plants. The only two parties in the province openly opposed to more nuclear, by the way, are the NDP and Greens.
- Get ready to dig even deeper into your pockets if and when Wynne and company proceed with implementing their cap-and-trade system – proven in other juridisctions around the world to be an overly complicated and costly method of gouging energy users, disguised as a carbon-reducing, environmental protection program. It isn’t. Astraight carbon tax has proven far more effective, but Wynne and her predecessor have never shown the courage to raise taxes, even for good reasons. They’d rather rob people from behind with batteries of user fees that hurt lower income people the most.
- Not to belabour the mess the Ontario Liberals have made on the energy file, but I’d feel remiss if I didn’t at least touch on how pathetically weak the governing Liberals have been on encouraging conservation outside of forcing poorer people to turn their thermostats off or almost off to avoid crippling hydro bills.
- One that should keep every voter in the Niagara West riding from marking an X next to the Liberal candidate’s name is the failure of the Liberals to approve long-standing plans to build a newWest Lincoln Memorial Hospital in Grimsby to replace the aging and overcrowded one that is there. (The former P.C. government of Mike Harris and Tim Hudak also failed to take effective action on this file and the only mainstream party that has been consistently pushing for the new hospital here is the NDP).
- Under the Wynne government, debt-ridden college and university students continue to be forced to perform hundreds of hours of “unpaid internships” – a form of slave labour – in order to receive their diploma. Meanwhile, this government has shown zero interest in making post-secondary education tuition free.
- The Ontario Liberals have stood by and done nothing while the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority has engaged in questionable hiring and firing practices, and in other conduct that has raised concerns among many citizens across the Niagara region. Recently, a Wynne government bureaucrat was quoted in the mainstream media that the government has no powers to order an independent, forensic audit of this Conservation Authority, even though the body’s very existence falls under a piece of provincial legislation called the Ontario Conservation Act. In other words, the Wynne government is telling Niagara citizens that they are forced under this provincial legislation to see millions of dollars of their municipal tax dollars go to this body and there is nothing Wynne or her minnions will do to ensure accountability for how those dollars are used.
- Premier Kathleen Wynne gave her stamp of approval to a plan for urban development on 500 acres of forest, savannah and wetlands known as the Thundering Waters Forest area in Niagara Falls before residents in Niagara even got a chance to review it or before it possibly goes before an Ontario Municipal Board hearing for final approval. She did so by boasting in a November 2015 media release that she had helped win a development plan worth hundreds of millions of dollars for this area while on a business trip in China. Although Liberal government sources deny it, Wynne may also have attached her signature to a “memorandum of understanding” with private interests to develop this wildlife area. There is no certainty that she did not sign this memorandum since parties to the development plan are so far unwilling to make it public.
- Ministerial documents show that the Wynne government is moving toward approving a scheme called “biodiversity offsetting” as a way of moving wetlands and other nature areas out of the way for urban development. When it comes to protecting wetlands in general, the public interest group Ontario nature had this to say about the Wynne government – Prior to the 2014 provincial election, Premier Kathleen Wynne pledged to reverse wetland loss by 2025. Accordingly, the Province has proposed a new wetland conservation strategy, which is open for public comment until November 16, 2016. The strategy, however, is not up to the task of protecting and recovering Ontario’s wetlands. Given weak overall targets, loose commitments and the failure to earmark areas for government investment, it is a recipe for inaction and delay.
- Adding to a perception many of us already have that the Wynne government talks the talk but most often does not walk the walk when it comes to environmental protection and conservation, the premier has removed from any cabinet portfolio and marginalized St. Catharines MPP Jim Bradley – a member of her caucus who was one of the best environment ministers this province and country ever had when he was allowed to do that job without a tight leash under former Liberal premier David Peterson.
For those reasons and for many more we have no more room for here, I hope voters will deliver a resounding defeat to Wynne in the November 17th byelections, and will be joined by voters across this province in defeating her government in 2018.
I would recommend re-electing Jim Bradley. Leave him as one of the last Ontario Liberal MPPs standing. With his many years of parliamentary experience, I’m confident Jimwould do just fine as the party’s next leader.
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