The Ontario Progressive Conservative party faithful were out on Monday, Jan. 2, 2017 at the Algoma Water Tower Inn to support party leader, Patrick Brown (MPP Simcoe North) and MPP candidate, (Sault Ste. Marie) Ross Romano. Romano, who is a current Municipal Councillor, Ward 6, was acclaimed in November 2016 as the PC (Ontario) riding association’s candidate for Sault Ste. Marie.
With a by-election looming for the provincial seat recently vacated by former MPP (Liberal) David Orazietti, Brown made his 6th trip to the city in a bid to “unleash the potential of northern Ontario.”
Romano gifted the PC leader with Soo Greyhound’s swag, offering Brown a hockey jersey with the number ‘18’, signifying the year 2018. Ontario’s next provincial election will be held in June 2018.
Patrick Brown brought with him a few New Year’s resolutions that he said will be priorities for the PC party going forward into 2017 and 2018.
Brown stated that he would dismantle ‘Cap & Trade’. Ontario’s cap and trade programme is designed to help fight climate change, and reward businesses that reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The Ontario government policy of cap and trade officially came in to effect on January 1st, 2017.
“Cap & Trade is a 2 billion dollar revenue grab for the Wynne government. Businesses will be less competitive. If it’s really about the environment, why is government getting 2 billion dollars out of this?” he queried. “Businesses have to buy green credits. I think our environment is important and I want to protect it. I take climate change seriously, but taking peoples goodwill about wanting to protect the environment translates into a cash grab for the Wynne government. Everything you do will now be more unaffordable.”
“Right now we have the highest hydro rates in North America. Surplus contracts are something we can act on. Since 2009, we’ve given away 6 billion dollars in surplus energy. The windier the day, the more we are giving away.” he said. “Why we are purchasing power to give it away, is beyond me. We generate more than we need, and we have a giant surplus. We don’t need any new power generation contracts.”
Brown further shared, “The Wynne Liberal government continues to sign renewable energy contracts that Ontario does not need. The global adjustment charge, rural delivery charge, debt retirement charges are further examples of the Wynne government nickel and diming Ontarians excessively.”
On the subject of education, Brown stated, “We have a skills ‘mis-match’ in Ontario.” Citing an Ontario Chambers of Commerce report, he said “There is 3.7 billion dollars of revenue that we lose because of jobs that are available but cannot be filled. We graduate people for the wrong jobs. Young people are graduating with diplomas that they will never be able to use.”
Looking at shifting capacity for college & university graduates, Brown said, “Where there are jobs, we will graduate young people. We have 100,000 plus jobs in the skills trades that can’t be filled. Kathleen Wynne (Ontario Premier) got rid of ‘shop class’. I would bring shop class back and communicate to parents and young people that these are very worthy career goals. Skilled trades are in demand and we aren’t doing anything to adapt to that.”
Brown further stated that technology, engineering, data analytics, A.I. (artificial intelligence), deep programming and coding are specific areas where Ontario is falling behind in graduates. “We need to adapt and evolve our education system to jobs that are offered; to link education to employment.”
“Ontario, for the last 90 years, led Canada in economic development. Today, we are a province that has been ‘credit downgraded’ three times, and Ontario is the most indebted province to the national government than any other province.”
“We are a ‘have not province’. For the first time in our history, we receive equalization payments.” Looking to an upcoming by-election for the provincial riding, Brown stated, “Sault Ste. Marie will be the starting point. A win here would send a powerful message that it’s time for a new course in Ontario.”
Brown stated that the Ontario Progressive conservative party membership is approaching 100,000.
He stated that he was the first conservative leader to walk in a Gay Pride parade.
Brown told saultonline that he is concerned about the lack of action on home care for seniors, and long term care waiting lists.
“Wynne’s approach is short-sighted. They haven’t been building long term care beds. The reality is that hospitals are operating at 20% A.L.C. (alternative level of care). I would invest in long term care. I’m concerned about Ontario’s seniors on fixed incomes who are really hurt by exorbitant hydro bills. I’ll build more long-term care, invest in more home care, and get hydro prices under control.”