End of Session Can’t Come Soon Enough for Liberal Government

This week marks the final days of the fall legislative session at Queen’s Park.  Over the last few weeks several damning reports on waste and mismanagement have been tabled by independent officers of the Legislative Assembly.  For the Liberal government the end of the session couldn’t come soon enough.

First, the newly appointed Financial Accountability Officer of Ontario (FAO) released his review of the Liberal government’s fire sale of Hydro One.  The FAO condemned the plan to sell off Hydro One as a move that was destined to make the province’s fiscal situation far worse than if the government chose not to sell off the provincial asset.

The FAO followed that report on Hydro One with a report on Ontario’s Medium-term Economic and Fiscal Outlook.  This time the FAO noted that the Liberal government had little chance of keeping their promise to balance Ontario’s budget in 2017-18.  In fact, the FAO warned that if revenue and spending continue as they have for the past four years, the Liberal Government could run a deficit as high as $7.4 billion in 2017-18.

Next, the Finance Minister released the Fall Economic Update and touted his government’s work to cut spending.  Only there was a problem with that story, the Ministry of Finance released background documents that detailed the fact that the Minister had squandered $1billion in reserve funding and another $1.1billion in Hydro One fire sale proceeds to achieve the results he was boasting about.  Using Hydro One proceeds contradicts the Liberal government’s promise that all monies from the sale of Hydro One would go to building new infrastructure in Ontario.

Then last Wednesday, the Auditor General released a scathing report on the Liberal government’s mismanagement of several major government programs.  The report was so damning that National Post columnist, Terence Corcoran, called it “one of the most devastating audit reports on government bungling and malpractice in Canadian history.”

Foremost among the Auditor’s findings was that as a result of directives issued by the McGuinty-Wynne governments, between 2006 and 2014, the people of Ontario have been overcharged $37 billion for electricity.  What’s more, ratepayers will continue to be overcharged another $133 billion dollars over the next 18 years – resulting in a total of $170 billion in unnecessary costs to ratepayers.

There is more to be said about the Auditor General’s report, but I will save that for future columns.  Bottom line, the Liberals need to do a better job.  Their haphazard approach to governing is costing Ontarians huge sums of money, stressing family budgets to the limit, and hurting our already vulnerable economy.

On a brighter note, last week the Liberal government backed down from their plan to extend a municipal land transfer tax to municipalities across the province.  The plan faced significant opposition from the Ontario PC Caucus, stakeholders and Ontarians.

A municipal land transfer tax would have made Ontario one of the most uncompetitive tax jurisdictions in North America for buying a home, and would have had devastating consequences on Ontario’s economic activity and employment.  The government did the right thing in reversing their decision.

Finally, I want to acknowledge the 30 year anniversary of Sarnia’s Mayor, Mike Bradley, beginning his service in elected office.  On December 2nd, 1985, Mayor Bradley was sworn in as an Alderman for the City of Sarnia. In 1988, Mike would become the Mayor of Sarnia, an office he has now been elected to 9 consecutive times.  During his 30 years in service to the public, Mayor Bradley has demonstrated a tireless work ethic on issues that improve the quality of life not just for residents in Sarnia, but for those in communities across Ontario.  I would like to thank Mayor Bradley for his leadership and service to the community.  There’s no doubt in my mind that Mayor Bradley is just getting started.