Cornwall - December 13, 2011 - I am back in the riding after a very busy three weeks at Queen’s Park. The office is set up, and I am still going through the stacks of reading and paperwork involved in the job as MPP. The learning curve is steep, but the staff at Queen’s Park and our PC caucus are both very knowledgeable and eager to help.
The Throne Speech was read on the second day of the session with no plan to address the ballooning deficit, which is now predicted to hit $16 billion, a billion more than the McGuinty government identified just two months ago during the election. With the province’s revenues at an all-time high, up $1.6 billion from last year, it is time to get spending under control by strategically spending on our priorities, instead of just throwing money at everything, hoping things will improve. There are a number of serious examples of countries that didn’t act on early warnings regarding finances , and some of these countries are now forced to accept deep cuts in their standard of living to earn bailouts from their neighbours. These are lessons we need to take to heart.
A number of bills have been brought forward, both government and private, but there has been no agreement on the formation of committees that is required before these bills can proceed. The rules of the legislature dictate that committee membership reflect the number of seats held by each party, so with the opposition holding a majority of the number of the seats, they should have a majority of the committee positions. This is something that the McGuinty government is refusing to acknowledge. The McGuinty government must accept that committee membership is a reflection of the will of the electorate.
I have the honour of being assigned to the role of Critic for the Ministry of Consumer Services and have had a few issues to deal with to date. I am extremely disappointed in their latest regulation that forces all electrical contractors to have at least one master electrician on staff. While this may not cause any issues for large companies, it is a huge issue for the small self-employed electricians that we commonly see in rural Ontario. In fact, an Electrical Safety Association (ESA) employee reports that 22 contractors in the five eastern counties are going out of business because of this regulation. The Minister tries to justify this regulation by stating that it will improve safety, but these same electricians can perform work for not-for- profit organizations as long as they don’t charge for their work. Obviously, safety is not the real issue. It is sad, but another concession to the big unions who funded their campaign. A neighbour of mine, at 71 years of age, must either go back to school or expand his business. He is one of the 22 small businesses being forced out of business with the threat of a $5,000 fine per day and imprisonment for continuing to work. We have raised the issue with the minister and I have submitted a submitted several petitions to attempt to bring a resolution to this important issue.
As the fall session has ended, I am now back in the constituency working on riding issues, attending constituency functions, and preparing for the upcoming session. I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a very happy and prosperous year in 2012.