Paul Miller, MPP, Hamilton East-Stoney Creek
It’s been a disturbing few months at the Ontario Legislature with the premier’s actions appearing somewhat erratic and confusing.
First, he recalled the Legislature on Aug. 27 to table Bill 115, which apparently had to be rammed through before school would begin and the current teachers’ contracts would kick in an increase. Then, the process took until Sept. 11, well past the date when the feared contract increases would have taken effect.
Then, answers to questions about the politically motivated $230M-$650M cancellation of gas plants in Oakville and Mississauga became evasive and accusatory; apparently getting too close to some unspeakable truths.
Finally, the opposition had to move a contempt motion against the minister of energy to get the gas plant documentation made public. The government released 36,000 pages – many blacked out – claiming that was all of it. Then another 20,000 pages of information were discovered.
When asked how almost 2/3 of the pages were overlooked, rather than take responsibility, blame was placed on ministry and Ontario Power Authority staff.
In the midst of these wranglings to force the McGuinty Liberal government to come clean about its spending of Ontarian tax dollars, the Opposition parties forced through the sitting of the standing committee on finance to which the closed gas plant issue would be sent, along with testimony by the minister of energy and the Premier could be called.
In this context, the premier ran and hid by first proroguing the Legislature, then standing down as premier.
Prorogation means that the legislative, public accountability of government has come to a halt, although – and this is something I’m very concerned about – the McGuinty Liberals could cause regulations to be issued.
Regulations are not sent for approval of a standing committee, nor to MPPs for consideration, so we effectively have governance by regulation. Good pieces of legislation – even some that the premier said absolutely had to go through this year – have fallen off of the agenda.
In my case, my Bill 54, Fire Protection and Prevention Amendment Act (Retrofitting of Retirement Homes with Automatic Sprinklers) 2012, has once again been scuffled by the McGuinty Liberal government.
After my last attempt with Bill 92 – scuffled in June 2011 – there have been three more retirement home deaths, which might not have happened if automatic sprinklers had been mandatory.
When one looks at the scandal-plagued McGuinty Liberal governments – the e-health million dollar-a-day Liberal-friendly consultant fee scandal; the disastrous, unaccountable ORNGE Air Ambulance patient and financial fiasco; the premier’s refusal to strike standing committees of the Legislature for public hearings and the Liberal MPP gas plant seat-saver mess, topped off with the premier’s unconscionable prorogation of the Legislature, it’s not hard to understand why so many have become jaded about politics.
Along with my NDP colleagues, we will continue to do the job you have elected us to do in our ridings and in whatever way possible at the Legislature.