Re­ward voter loy­alty with money

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page - -- Richard Ma­honey, [email protected]­gar­rynews.ca

The many Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives in Glen­garry can re­joice, af­ter whin­ing for 15 years

Af­ter cut­ting hy­dro rates and beer prices, the new govern­ment can widen the 401 and dole out more water money

Can ev­ery­one stop whin­ing now? The many con­ser­va­tives and Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives in Glen­garry have been com­plain­ing about the Lib­er­als for the last 15 years. Now that the Doug Ford blue wave has crashed down on Kath­leen Wynne, al­most wip­ing out her en­tire party, many peo­ple in The Celtic Heart­land have been do­ing happy dances, in their minds, if not in prac­tice.

By their very na­ture, con­ser­va­tives tend to be more re­served than cen­trists, lib­er­als and wild-eyed left­ies. Yet, the diehard Tories have def­i­nitely been more serene in their coun­te­nance since the June 7 elec­tion.

OK, there are some con­cerns that the Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives are not very pro­gres­sive and that sooner or later our new Premier will re­sort to the shenani­gans he and his late brother got up to. To this day, for­eign­ers as­so­ciate Canada with that crazy mayor from Toronto.

Of course, the few cyn­ics who doubt the va­lid­ity of any po­lit­i­cal prom­ise re­main con­vinced that it is only a mat­ter of time be­fore the wheels start to wob­ble on the Ford Na­tion band­wagon.

There are skep­ti­cal pre­dic­tions that within a few weeks of the new govern­ment be­ing sworn in, the Con­ser­va­tives will re­veal that the Lib­er­als had cooked the books and that, sadly, the cof­fers are sparse and that the PCs will not be able to hon­our all of their com­mit­ments.

And, although some mar­velled that the Tories man­aged to score a huge ma­jor­ity with­out con­struct­ing an ac­tual cam­paign plat­form, many pledges were in fact prof­fered.

The Tories’ sales pitch cov­ered the ba­sics, such as the prov­ince’s cry­ing and ur­gent need for cheaper beer.

One of the many rea­sons the Lib­er­als were de­spised was their hyp­o­crit­i­cal stance on beer and al­co­hol sales. As part of its mod­ern­iza­tion of booze laws, the govern­ment per­mit­ted the sale of al­co­hol in a lim­ited num­ber of gro­cery stores. But, at the same time, the for­mer Premier re­coiled in hor­ror at the sug­ges­tion that beer and wine be sold in con­ve­nience stores.

Un­like most ju­ris­dic­tions in Canada and the United States, a Crown cor­po­ra­tion, the Liquor Con­trol Board of On­tario, al­most ex­clu­sively re­tails wine and spir­its. Beer is con­trolled by the large brew­eries which op­er­ate The Beer Store.

For decades, dé­pan­neurs in Québec have prof­ited from the in­flow of thirsty On­tar­i­ans who want to buy booze at times when the LCBO and the Beer Store are closed.

While al­co­hol is eas­ier to pur­chase in Québec, that prov­ince has no more al­co­hol-re­lated prob­lems than On­tario.

At one time, the ar­gu­ment was that re­stricted ac­cess would limit con­sump­tion. Yet, the LCBO spends a lot of money pro­mot­ing wine, beer, and spir­its. The new Alexan­dria out­let is typ­i­cal of the brand­ing model -- it is large, bright and wel­com­ing.

Per­mit­ting On­tario dé­pan­neurs to sell beer and wine would be a log­i­cal pro­gres­sion in the re­lax­ation of liquor laws.

The 401

Plus, there is the 401, as in the con­stant de­mands by Con­ser­va­tives to have the high­way in Eastern On­tario widened.

“The carnage on this in­creas­ingly busy stretch of high­way makes it clear the cur­rent four-lane in­fra­struc­ture is in­ad­e­quate,” stated a let­ter that Stor­mont-Dun­das-South Glen­garry MPP Jim McDonell and other Tory mem­bers cir­cu­lated last year.

“Our re­gion de­serves bet­ter,” the rep­re­sen­ta­tives rightly com­plained, not­ing that there were 12 fatal crashes be­tween May and De­cem­ber 2017 on the stretch of the 401 be­tween Trenton and Corn­wall in which 16 peo­ple were killed and 18 in­jured.

No­body can op­pose any mea­sure that will improve high­way safety. But the wish list length­ens.

For fu­ture ref­er­ence, you might want to clip and save th­ese prom­ises made by the Tories dur­ing the elec­tion cam­paign, and check them off as they are ful­filled. The new govern­ment will, among other things: Cut hy­dro costs by 12 per cent; Re­duce gas prices by ten cents per litre; Lower in­come taxes by 20 per cent for the mid­dle class; In­vest in free den­tal care for low-in­come se­niors; Elim­i­nate in­come tax for min­i­mum wage earn­ers; Sup­port farm­ers and ru­ral On­tario with an in­creased risk man­age­ment pro­gram and bet­ter broad­band and cell phone ser­vice and nat­u­ral gas ser­vice. And the Con­ser­va­tives will in­vest $1.9 bil­lion in bet­ter men­tal health ser­vices. Whew! That is one am­bi­tious and ex­pen­sive litany of com­mit­ments. Great ex­pec­ta­tions have been height­ened now that Glen­garry is rep­re­sented by two Con­ser­va­tive MPPs as mem­bers of a huge Con­ser­va­tive govern­ment that will be un­fet­tered by any ef­fec­tive op­po­si­tion from the left wingers.

Ru­ral On­tario has never been so blue. Glen­garry has tra­di­tion­ally sup­ported Con­ser­va­tives. Now the faith­ful un­der­stand­ably ex­pect to be re­warded for their loy­alty.

For starters, the Con­ser­va­tives ought to hon­our the com­mit­ment the hated Lib­er­als sort of made to North Glen­garry about the Maxville water project.

Shortly af­ter the elec­tion re­sults were in, North Glen­garry Deputy Mayor, and the township’s mayor ap­par­ent, Jamie Mac­Don­ald, asked our area Tory rep­re­sen­ta­tives if they were to fol­low through with the for­mer govern­ment’s pledge to pro­vide an ad­di­tional $4.5 mil­lion to the new water sys­tem.

Re­mem­ber that a year ago, the fed­eral govern­ment had awarded $15 mil­lion while the prov­ince com­mit­ted $7.5 mil­lion to­wards the $30 mil­lion cost of bring­ing water from Alexan­dria to Maxville. With those funds, North Glen­garry’s tax­pay­ers would still be left with a $7.5 mil­lion tab. But in its last bud­get, pre­sented shortly be­fore the elec­tion, the Lib­er­als had said they would con­trib­ute an ad­di­tional $4.5 mil­lion.

Plus, about $12 mil­lion is re­quired to ex­pand the over­loaded Alexan­dria sewage fa­cil­ity. If the mu­nic­i­pal­ity lands 75 per cent fund­ing from Ot­tawa and Toronto, mu­nic­i­pal ratepay­ers would still have to cover at least $4 mil­lion of the waste­water so­lu­tion.

The mu­nic­i­pal­ity has a strong ar­gu­ment to get as much money as pos­si­ble for the up­per tiers of govern­ment.

Alexan­dria can­not grow un­til it has in­creased its sewage treat­ment ca­pac­ity; Maxville needs a bet­ter water sup­ply to re­spond to cur­rent and fu­ture needs.

Be­cause of the sewage sys­tem de­fi­cien­cies, a build­ing freeze has been ef­fec­tively put in place in Alexan­dria.

New ba­sic ser­vices would help at­tract new peo­ple, slow­ing the grad­ual de­cline in pop­u­la­tion North Glen­garry has ex­pe­ri­enced for sev­eral decades. Glen­gar­ri­ans are ex­pect­ing that the govern­ment, de­spite its many costly com­mit­ments and IOUs to ful­fill, will re­in­force lo­cals’ undy­ing faith in Tories. Money talks and large sub­si­dies are a great way for the new rulers to ex­press their grat­i­tude to loyal Con­ser­va­tive Glen­garry elec­tors. Can’t wait to see the huge cheques rolling in.

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