This week marks the end of the fall legislative session at Queen’s Park, and what a session it’s been! That was essentially the point on Thursday when Guelph MPP and Green Party of Ontario leader Mike Schreiner held a press conference to mark the end of the session, and he did not mince words when it came to his appraisal of the first six months of the new Ontario government.
“One after another, the Ford government has squandered opportunities to make life better for Ontarians, preferring to embark on a legislative agenda that was frustrating and often appalling,” Schreiner said in a statement. “It is no surprise to see that Premier Ford’s approval numbers have plummeted since September. The people of Ontario are watching and they clearly don’t like what they see.”
Schreiner listed a number of grievances he described as a “catalogue of negligence, mismanagement and legislative overreach.” The catalogue includes the use of the notwithstanding clause against striking education workers, the creation of Strong Mayor legislation, breaking their promise not to touch the Greenbelt, a limited five per cent increase to ODSP, little action on the healthcare crisis, and the decision to appeal Bill 124 after the courts ruled it unconstitutional.
“The encouraging developments of the past few weeks have happened outside the legislature,” Schreiner explained about recent series of protests against Bill 23 and developing portions of the Greenbelt. “It was wonderful to see how people stood up and fought back when the government tried to suppress the rights of the lowest paid education workers. The government had to back down and, hopefully, learned a lesson.”
Thursday capped a very busy week at Queen’s Park for Schreiner who hosted another press conference Tuesday with the National Farmers’ Union-Ontario and the Ontario Farmland Trust who were especially concerned about a provision in Bill 39 to remove protections for the Duffins Rouge Agricultural Preserve, which Schreiner described as a threat to farmland and a “blatant betrayal of the public trust.”
“Twenty years ago, Ontarians invested hundreds of millions of dollars to protect these lands and now Ford is handing over this precious public asset without a second thought,” Schreiner said in a statement. “Across Ontario, we are losing 319 acres of farmland – the equivalent of a family farm – every single day due to development. The Ford government’s reckless sprawl agenda – codified in Bills 23 and 39 and in plans to build Highway 413 and the Bradford Bypass – will push that number to horrifying levels.”
Bill 39 passed third reading on Thursday, and while Schreiner was a definite ‘no’ vote, he said that the bill’s passage was, itself, a “brazen betrayal of the public trust.”
“With the passage of Bill 39, today will be remembered as the day the majority party in the Ontario legislature voted for minority rule,” Schreiner said in a statement after Bill 39’s passage. “By giving select ‘strong mayors’ the power to pass by-laws with support from only a third of elected councillors, the Ford government has dealt a lethal blow to public participation in municipal decision making. It is undemocratic, unfair and unnecessary. Its only objective is to allow Doug Ford to ride roughshod over municipal councillors to push through his ‘provincial priorities.’”
To hear more from Mike Schreiner he will be appearing on the Thursday December 15 episode of Open Sources Guelph at 5 pm on CFRU 93.3 fm and cfru.ca!