Local leaders express disappointment in first Ford government throne speech

ELLIOT LAKE—Both Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Michael Mantha and Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Glen Hare were disappointed with last week’s Ontario Progressive Conservative Party throne speech. 

After listening to the PC throne speech, Mr. Mantha said, “I am definitely disappointed but unfortunately not surprised. I’m disappointed both in the direction this new government has announced it is taking as well as the blatant backroom deal practices they are already employing.” He said the throne speech shows that Ontario is being dragged backwards by (Premier) Doug Ford and his insider friends and lobbyists.

Mr. Ford and his ministers were sworn in just days ago. The fledgling ministers have not even taken any time to familiarize themselves with their portfolios and challenges facing them, said Mr. Mantha. “The Conservatives started off by cancelling cap-and-trade with no plan to replace it. They seem to have put little or no thought into the fact that this means hundreds of millions of dollars have been cut from things like school repairs. This will directly impact our education system and our children’s future now and for decades to come.”

Mr. Mantha also said that just days after becoming premier, Doug Ford quickly succumbed to pressure from rich Internet ticket scalping companies and refused to cap the price of re-sold tickets to music and sporting events. He made a secret agreement with the CEO and board of directors of Hydro One potentially giving the CEO millions of dollars to walk away from the company and he’s given a campaign supporter, Rueben Devlin, a million-dollar government deal.

Mr. Mantha, the NDP critic for Indigenous Affairs, was also critical of how abruptly Mr. Ford turned his back on the progress made in the reconciliation process. This week the Progressive Conservatives cancelled meetings that were in the final stages of updating curriculum which included Indigenous peoples which were the result of 94 recommendations by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The meetings were cancelled to the dismay of participants without warning, even after many had already made the trip from distant locations. The reason cited by government officials was a new ban on non-essential travel as part of their austerity policies. Mr. Mantha said, “this could prove to be a major setback for Indigenous leaders and is cause for great concern for the people of Ontario.”

The sudden decision to revert back to the decades old sex education curriculum for Ontario students is also sending the province back to old and outdated ways, said the MPP.  The old curriculum was developed before such things as cyber bullying, sexting, alternative family lifestyles and same sex marriage was made legal. “Glossing over and ignoring the changes in society and technology is not going to prepare our children to face the real world,” said Mr. Mantha.

“People are desperate for relief from sky-high hydro bills and painfully long waits and hallway medicine in our hospitals. Despite this Doug Ford is making secret deals that won’t benefit everyday families and appointing party insiders to patronage positions.”
“Andrea Horwath and my NDP colleagues are committed to speaking up to represent all Ontarians, not just a select few,” said Mr. Mantha.

Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Glen Hare was disappointed following the reading of the speech from the throne as delivered by the Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdesdell on Thursday, July 12, but is choosing to remain optimistic.

”I was disappointed that the Throne Speech did not reference Indigenous people or the efforts that have been made to repair the relationship between Indigenous people and the province of Ontario, or a statement of commitment to continue on the journey of Truth and Reconciliation,” said Grand Council Chief Hare. “But I’m staying optimistic that the new Ontario government and the Anishinabek Nation can and will continue to work together to progress our relationship and create opportunities that will be mutually beneficial for both the  Anishinabek and people of Ontario.”

The speech did allude to change coming and that action will be taken on reducing gas prices; lowering hydro bills; providing meaningful tax relief to parents and small businesses; creating and protecting jobs; and investing in mental health and addictions, including supportive housing.