‘I wasn’t elected to sell cuts that voters oppose’
The following statement was issued by Glengarry-Prescott-Russell MPP Amanda Simard.
Since my stand in November against the Ontario government’s unilaterally imposed cuts to Franco-Ontarian institutions, my office has received countless messages of support. I thank you all for the kind words of encouragement.
I placed my constituents and my integrity ahead of my political aspirations, and quit the provincial Progressive Conservative caucus to sit as an Independent. No elected representative, be they federal or provincial, should be kept in the dark by their party about policies that hurt their riding. MPs swear allegiance to Canada, not to their party. The people of my riding voted me in to represent them at Queen’s Park, not to sell them Conservative cuts they overwhelmingly oppose.
There is more to politics than party victory. The objective is not to turn into losers the millions of people who did not vote for you. It falls on governing parties to consult the electorate and propose sound and practical policies that benefit all of society, not just those who support their ideology. Governing is not about advancing party interest or only balancing the books; it’s about balancing the multiple interests in society.
The people of my riding voted me in to represent them at Queen’s Park, not to sell them Conservative cuts they overwhelmingly oppose.
A member of Parliament or of the provincial legislature represents both party and constituents. When the party attacks them, the MP must stand tall. It’s called country, province, region before party, and I sure hope Canadians agree it’s good politics. Elected office must be about serving a purpose higher than party politics.
If there is one positive aspect to Ontario’s linguistic crisis, it is that the generations who have not lived the previous crises can see the fragility of Francophone rights and services. Our young people are living this moment. And they will remember – just as I remember the rally to save Montfort hospital in 1997. This historic moment is part of me and, 20 years later, it was part of my decision to leave the Conservative caucus. We could not let ignorance of our history and of our contribution to this province, indeed this country, trample our rights.
Canadians should judge political parties on the merits of their platform and candidates on their credentials and the strength of their character – for MPs and MPPs stand as the only safeguards against a majority party’s excesses. The issue is not re-election in four years, but a fair society for all.
So far, the Ontario government has lacked clear and fair consultation mechanisms for MPPs and constituents alike. Recent admonishments of the democratic role played by the media reinforce the government’s growing authoritarian reputation. Many groups decry the parodic or outright absence of pre-budget consultations in key sectors such as health care, education, autism and Franco-Ontarian affairs, while others cringe about potential attacks on the environment, unions and the arts – all with deficit-fighting as justification.
Too many in this government are new to democratic power. Has its 15-year hiatus rendered the PC government so power-hungry it has forgotten about a government’s higher purpose? Under the reign of this blue Conservative inner circle, too many democratic indicators are in the red.
Luckily for Franco-Ontarians, we have spoken loud and clear and this government will think twice before imposing on us further harm. Unfortunately, too many Ontarians may suffer under the heavy-handedness, unbalanced swing of a 15-year absence pendulum.