Reward voter loyalty with money
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.
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.