The decision by Education Minister Laurel Broten to repeal Bill 115 shows the Liberals have no interest in solving Ontario’s fiscal crisis, says Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak.
“They are opening up the floodgates to more spending that we can’t afford,” said Hudak at his New Year’s Levee, Jan. 6, at the 447 Wing R.C.A.F.A. inMountHope.
Broten announced last week she is using Bill 115 to impose a two-year contract, which includes a wage freeze, and cuts benefits, on the public elementary and secondary school teachers. But the Liberals are prepared to repeal the legislation by the end of January because it has become a “lightening rod” for attention. The teachers’ unions have challenged the legal implications of the bill in court, arguing it eliminates their collective bargaining rights.
Hudak is also not confident any of the other Liberal candidates vying to replace out-going premier Dalton McGuinty will solve the province’s $14.8 billion deficit. He said most of the candidates have already stated they would repeal the bill as well.
Instead, the Tories, who voted with the Liberals to pass Bill 115 have repeatedly stated the province needs an across the board wage freeze for all public servants, saving taxpayers about $2 billion annually.
“The Liberal leadership candidates have signaled that is the path to ramp up spending,” he said. “(They) are putting their own party interests ahead of the interests of taxpayers and students.”
Hudak spent nearly two hours at the 447 Wing facility meeting with a long line of supporters. Also attending the event was Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale Progressive Conservative MPP candidate Donna Skelly, Haldimand-Norfolk Tory MPP Toby Barrett, and Glanbrook councillor Brenda Johnson. Also attending the event was Hudak’s wife Deb Hutton, and their daughter Miller.
Hudak also attended another levee at Peninsula Ridges Estates Winery in Beamsville later in the day.
The Tory leader also expressed a concern that some Liberal candidates would like to keep the House from sitting even after the Jan. 25-27 party leadership race is over.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if the Liberals don’t call the House back into session,” said Hudak. “They have clearly demonstrated they are more concerned with their internal issues than governing the province.”
In a Jan. 6 debate, four of the leadership candidates, Gerard Kennedy, Kathleen Wynne, Eric Hoskins, and Harinder Takhar stated they would bring back the Legislature as soon as possible. Wynne said in a news conference she would call the Legislature back in February.
Meanwhile, asHamiltonprepares to hold two public meetings on whether to allow a casino in the downtown area, Hudak said his party proposed legislation that would allow municipalities to hold a referendum on allowing new gaming sites. The private member’s bill introduced by MPP Monte McNaughton would allow municipalities to hold referendums for new gaming facilities.
NDP leader Andrea Horwath announced last year she called on the Liberals to stop the OLG’s tendering process and allow municipalities, such asHamilton, to hold a referendum on the issue.
Hudak wants the province to shut down the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission restructuring, which has already closed down some horse racing tracks, includingFort Erie. It also means the end of the Slots at Racetrack program, saving $345 million, by March 31, 2013.
“The (approach) by the OLG should b e put on the shelf,” he said. “We should build what we currently have.”
He says the idea to close Flamboro Downs, and locate another casino in the city is a waste of money and time.
“Why would build up what already exists and works?” says Hudak. “Why wouldn’t you have (blackjack, roulette) in Flamborough, as opposed to plowing that (facility) under and losing jobs to build something new at taxpayers’ expense?”