Speech cov­ers cam­paign pledges

Govern­ment pledg­ing to cut taxes and slash govern­ment waste

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - ONTARIO NEWS - SHAWN JEFFORDS and PAOLA LORIG­GIO

TORONTO — On­tario’s new Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive govern­ment vowed Thurs­day to bring in sweep­ing changes meant to re­store pub­lic trust in the prov­ince in a throne speech that played up prom­ises made by Pre­mier Doug Ford dur­ing the spring elec­tion cam­paign.

The speech — writ­ten by the pre­mier’s of­fice and read by Lt. Gov. El­iz­a­beth Dow des well at the On­tario leg­is­la­ture — set out a road map for the new Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive govern­ment’s term, pledg­ing to cut taxes, pro­vide long-term fund­ing for the health-care sys­tem and slash govern­ment waste.

It did not in­tro­duce new prom­ises but in­stead high­lighted key pledges from Ford to con­duct a line-by-line au­dit of all govern­ment spend­ing, pull out of the ca­pand-trade sys­tem and fight what his govern­ment calls “op­pres­sive” taxes, in­clud­ing the im­po­si­tion of a fed­eral car­bon price.

The govern­ment has been given “a clear man­date from On­tar­i­ans” to carry out its vi­sion at a piv­otal time for the prov­ince, the speech said.

“The fact is that On­tario is at a crit­i­cal junc­ture. We face mount­ing chal­lenges at home and abroad. These chal­lenges, if left unchecked, threaten liveli­hoods and im­peril pub­lic ser­vices,” it said.

“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 govern­ment stressed the need for col­lab­o­ra­tion — with other lev­els of govern­ment, with par­ents and teach­ers, with law en­force­ment — in vow­ing to re­store faith in pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions.

“In a time of global tur­moil and change, main­tain­ing and strength­en­ing the bond be­tween the peo­ple and their pub­lic rep­re­sen­ta­tives must al­ways be top of mind for us all. It is very much top of mind for your new govern­ment,” it said.

The speech promised the govern­ment will take ac­tion to re­duce taxes for par­ents, small busi­nesses and the work­ing poor, and pledged to bring down elec­tric­ity bills.

It fur­ther said the govern­ment will pro­vide sta­ble health-care fund­ing, in­clud­ing a $3.8 bil­lion in­vest­ment in men­tal health, ad­dic­tion sand sup­port­ive hous­ing.

How­ever, it made no men­tion of one is­sue the govern­ment had said would be one of its pri­or­i­ties for the rare sum­mer sit­ting of the leg­is­la­ture: end­ing an on­go­ing strike at York Uni­ver­sity.

Ford nonethe­less stressed those pri­or­i­ties in a state­ment Thurs­day, say­ing his govern­ment would get to work quickly so “peo­ple can see real change fast.”

“We are end­ing the dead­locked strike at York Uni­ver­sity so stu­dents can get back to school. We are strik­ing the cap-and-trade car­bon tax from the books. And we are can­celling un­nec­es­sary re­new­able en­ergy projects to help lower your elec­tric­ity bills,” he said.

In the state­ment, the Tories said the sum­mer ses­sion will build on the work their govern­ment has al­ready un­der­taken, such as steps to dis­man­tle cap and trade and mea­sures to curb govern­ment spend­ing.

Uni­ver­sity of Toronto po­lit­i­cal science pro­fes­sor Nel­son Wise­man said Ford, who led the party to a sweep­ing ma­jor­ity, is cap­i­tal­iz­ing on his mo­men­tum.

“Po­lit­i­cally, I think what he’s do­ing is smart,” he said. “He feels the wind in his sails. He wants to keep it that way. This gives him an op­por­tu­nity to get this at­ten­tion now.”

Ford made good on a key cam­paign prom­ise Wednes­day, an­nounc­ing the im­me­di­ate re­tire­ment of the CEO of Hy­dro One and the res­ig­na­tion of the util­ity’s en­tire board of di­rec­tors. He said the move would bring down elec­tric­ity rates but strug­gled to ex­plain how when asked re­peat­edly by re­porters.

FRANK GUNN/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

On­tario Pre­mier Doug Ford, right, and Lt.-Gov. El­iz­a­beth Dowdeswell ar­rive ahead of the speech from the throne to open the new leg­isla­tive ses­sion at the On­tario Leg­is­la­ture at Queen’s Park in Toronto on Thurs­day.

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