By Kevin Werner, News Staff
Hamilton East-Stoney Creek NDP MPP Paul Miller says the Liberals are without a plan, and that Premier Kathleen Wynne remains an unelected leader to the public.
Yet, the NDP, he said won’t force an election, but will attempt to work with the Liberals to make the government work.
“They have run out of ideas,” said Miller, who attended the Liberal’s provincial council meeting Sept. 27-29 at the Hamilton Convention Centre.
Miller said Wynne is an unelected premier, who was selected by the Liberal party in February to lead the province, yet neither she nor her programs have been tested by a provincial election.
He pointed out the Liberal’s 2013 budget contained ideas that were snatched from the NDP’s game plan, including the recently approved financial accountability office to watch over government spending.
Miller is most critical of the Liberals for not outlining a jobs creation strategy to reinvigorate the city’s manufacturing base, which is essential to Hamiltonians. The number of Hamilton residents living under the poverty line inched up from 20 per cent to 21 per cent, he said.
“They wanted to get rid of poverty by 2015,” he said. “They have failed miserably.”
Miller’s criticism comes as the Liberals unveiled a new public strategy called Common Ground. The idea is for people to submit ideas to the party’s website www.commonground.liberalparty.ca. that will help to shape the party’s next election platform.
The top idea so far from the website is to remove the provincial ban on pit bulls. Other ideas include creating a panel to review end-of-life decisions; improve accountability in government; prohibit retired teachers from getting new jobs; ban gay conversion of teens; and legalize and tax recreation marijuana.
Wynne said in an interview, the Liberals do have a plan to create jobs. It includes the party’s $295-million youth jobs plan, and the $70.9 million invested in Ford’s Oakville plant, part of the company’s $700 million program. Wynne said the Liberals’ investment into the auto sector has direct repercussions to Hamiltonwith the recent expansion plans by Ancaster’s Stackpole International to hire more employees.
“We are implementing our agenda,” said Wynne. “We have a plan.”
With the legislative log jam broken after Wynne and Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak agreed to clear the docket and allow both Tory and Liberal bills to be passed by this December, it will mean the Liberals can get their ideas into the public sphere.
“I feel it was my obligation to reach out,” she said. “We are finding a way to work together on various issues. I want to do everything in my power to make the minority government work.”
Other issues Wynne touched on include again reforming the Ontario Municipal Board, which remains a controversial entity.
“It’s time for another refresh,” she said.
The premier said the Liberals have no intention of eliminating the OMB. Instead, over the fall provincial officials will be talking with various groups, including developers and community organizers to see how to improve it. Recommendations could be available by next spring.
Meanwhile, Wynne remains a big believer in funding light-rail transit forHamilton, and other transportation projects for the rest of the Greater Toronto Area. She said discussions within the party are continuing on how to fund them, which will cost in the billions of dollars, including nearly $1 billion for Hamilton’s LRT.
Revenue ideas are being bandied about, including raising fees, on a number of items, she said. Recommendations on how to raise the funds will be introduced early next year, said Wynne who has asked a 13-member board, headed by former United Way president Anne Golden, to examine new revenue tools for transit.
The Liberal party members discussed those “revenue tools” at their weekend session, without reaching a consensus.
“I know that within the party, as within the population as a whole there’s a range of opinions,” Wynne told reporters during a news conference.