Government's political scheming puts EODF in jeopardy: Clark
MPP Steve Clark
Leeds-Grenville MPP Steve Clark blasted the McGuinty government today for playing politics with the Eastern Ontario Development Fund (EODF) by linking its future to an unknown program for Southwestern Ontario.
Queen's Park - December 5, 2011 - Leeds-Grenville MPP Steve Clark blasted the McGuinty government today for playing politics with the Eastern Ontario Development Fund (EODF) by linking its future to an unknown program for Southwestern Ontario.
Clark expressed shock that the government has introduced a bill it knows will put the EODF in jeopardy.
To extend the EODF, the government's bill forces MPPs to also vote for a new program in Southwestern Ontario that's surrounded by serious questions - including how it will be funded and what accountability measures it will have.
"We don't need this bill for the EODF program. The program exists already and it has the support of Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak and our caucus," stressed Clark.
"However, we won't support a bill that bundles it with a program with so many unknowns. The McGuinty government is asking for a blank cheque and we all know that would be a costly disaster for taxpayers."
In fact, Clark noted that with an estimated $28 million still left in the fund after more than three years, the EODF could be extended through March of 2013 with no new government spending.
Clark said the government is using the threat of cancelling the EODF as a tactic to force the Legislature into helping Premier McGuinty keep an election promise to establish the Southwestern Ontario fund.
It's a promise that comes with an $80-million price tag at a time when the province has a deficit of $16 billion.
"Rather than debate the merits of the new Southwestern Ontario program, they're pitting regions against each other with this bill," explained Clark. "It's disgusting to me that, at a time of economic turmoil in this province, the McGuinty government would choose to play political games instead of focusing on job creation."
Clark wrote to Economic Development and Innovation Minister Brad Duguid a month ago requesting an urgent meeting of all 12 Eastern Ontario MPPs whose ridings are eligible for EODF funding (nine PC and three Liberal members).
"It was a non-partisan effort to work with the government and move forward with the No. 1 issues for Eastern Ontario voters in the recent provincial election: job creation and economic development," said Clark.
He has yet to receive a response to his request, which would give MPPs an opportunity to ask questions of the Ministry staff and provide input on how the program can better meet its objectives of creating and retaining jobs.
Clark called on Minister Duguid to do the right thing and separate the two programs and bring together Eastern Ontario MPPs to review the EODF before it expires in March, 2012.
"Let's stop playing partisan politics and do what Ontarians expect MPPs to do in this minority legislature, which is to work across party lines to fix the serious challenges facing the province today," urged Clark.
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