PC throne speech in­di­cates change

Drop­ping many Lib­eral govern­ment poli­cies

The Peterborough Examiner - - Canada & World - ROBERT BENZIE AND ROB FER­GU­SON

Warn­ing “change will not be easy,” Pre­mier Doug Ford’s new Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive govern­ment is sig­nalling it will move quickly with dra­matic re­forms.

In Thurs­day’s speech from the throne — read in the leg­is­la­ture on by Lieu­tenant Gover­nor El­iz­a­beth Dowdeswell and ti­tled “A Govern­ment for the Peo­ple” — the new ad­min­is­tra­tion will con­vene a com­mis­sion of in­quiry into the pre­vi­ous Lib­eral govern­ment’s spend­ing prac­tices.

The Tories will also free po­lice from “oner­ous re­stric­tions that treat those in uni­form as sub­jects of sus­pi­cion and scorn,” end “un­af­ford­able green en­ergy con­tracts,” and ex­pand beer and wines sales to con­ve­nience and big-box stores.

While the speech did not specif­i­cally men­tion the $6 bil­lion in spend­ing cuts that Ford promised dur­ing the spring elec­tion cam­paign, it her­alded a new era of re­straint.

“We can­not af­ford to dither or de­lay. To over­come these chal­lenges, we must chal­lenge the sta­tus quo, re­ject the old com­pro­mises and em­brace change,” the nine-page throne speech said.

“The road ahead will not be easy, but the path is clear.”

On ed­u­ca­tion, the Ford govern­ment will re­place the 2015 “sex ed­u­ca­tion cur­ricu­lum with an age-ap­pro­pri­ate one that is based on real con­sul­ta­tion with par­ents.”

In a sop to the so­cial con­ser­va­tives who helped him be­come Tory leader in March, the new pre­mier’s ad­min­is­tra­tion will use the 1998 sex ed­u­ca­tion syl­labus, which pre­dates Google, same-sex mar­riage, and so­cial me­dia, un­til a new les­son plan is de­vel­oped.

Stu­dents will no longer be taught the “failed ex­per­i­men­tal ‘dis­cov­ery math’ cur­ric­ula” in favour of a fo­cus on fun­da­men­tals.

NDP Leader An­drea Howarth said “this throne speech takes us back­wards, it takes us back to a pre­vi­ous cen­tury, and is a race to the bot­tom of what fam­i­lies should be able to count on their govern­ment for.”

In­terim Lib­eral Leader John Fraser said the “im­pact of the govern­ment’s de­ci­sions in our schools is of deep con­cern.”

But evan­ge­list Charles McVety, an in­vited guest at the speech, said stu­dents can now “go and learn how to tie their shoelaces and do arith­metic and read and write and do what they should be do­ing in school in­stead of learn­ing things that be­long, re­ally, in post-grad­u­ate stud­ies.”

Green Leader Mike Schreiner coun­tered that Ford has “de­clared war on the mod­ern world.

“I mean, to have no cli­mate change plan and to take our sex ed cur­ricu­lum back to 1998 is tak­ing the prov­ince back­wards,” said Schreiner.

In con­trast to re­cent speeches from the throne, there was no French spo­ken. Nor was there any ac­knowl­edge­ment of In­dige­nous peo­ples.

Al­though the in­come tax cuts Ford promised dur­ing the June 7 elec­tion will not take ef­fect for at least two years, the speech promised “mean­ing­ful, nec­es­sary tax re­lief to par­ents, small busi­nesses, and the work­ing poor.”

“You should not be forced to pay more and work harder to make life eas­ier for your govern­ment. In­stead, your govern­ment should be work­ing harder, smarter, and more ef­fi­ciently to make life bet­ter for you.”

The Tories will call “a com­mis­sion of in­quiry into the fi­nan­cial prac­tices of the govern­ment to iden­tify ways to re­store ac­count­abil­ity and trust in On­tario’s pub­lic fi­nances.”

How­ever, the Tories will charge ahead with ex­pand­ing the Lib­er­als’ costly Fair Hy­dro Plan that Lysyk has also crit­i­cized as “bo­gus.”

FRANK GUNN THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Lt.-Gov. El­iz­a­beth Dowdeswell and Pre­mier Doug Ford ar­rive ahead of the speech from the throne to open the new leg­isla­tive ses­sion on Thurs­day.

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