MPP wants Legislature recalled
With the Premier's resignation last week and his announcement to prorogue the Ontario legislature, my staff and I have received many questions about what this means for the government, the province, and for constituents alike. As such, I've decided that my column today would focus on addressing the procedural questions that you've all been asking.
Earlier this week, I sent a letter to the Premier asking him to send MPP's back to work and recall the legislature (The full text of this letter can be viewed here). As an individual MPP, I do not have the ability to recall the Legislature; the same is true of Opposition parties as a whole. The decision to prorogue or recall the Legislature lies solely with the Premier.
The real tragedy in this prorogation is the considerable work that's been put in by MPP's of all parties that's now gone to waste. When the Legislature was prorogued, all Legislative business died. It is very important to note that Mr. McGuinty could have made a motion for all business to carry over to the next session when the Legislature is recalled. This would have enabled all private members' bill, including my own Organ Donor Registry Bill, to resume upon return of the Legislature. The same can be said for Committee business. This would include the Committee that has been investigating the scandal at Ornge and would be investigating the Oakville and Mississauga gas plant allegations. Mr. McGuinty's conscious decision to not carry over legislative business has raised questions as to his real intentions behind prorogation.
Now that Dalton McGuinty has stepped down a new Liberal Leader has to be selected. A Liberal Leadership convention has been set for Friday, January 25th. The new Liberal Leader will also become the Premier. It is very important here to note that just because a new Premier has been selected the Legislature will not automatically be recalled; that decision will be left to the discretion of the new Leader. Political analysts have suggested that it is unlikely the Legislature will be recalled before April.
In the meantime, I urge my constituents to contact the Premier's office and demand that the legislature is called back so that MPP's can get back to the job we were elected to do. There are serious issues facing this province. It is imperative that MPP's return to the legislature so they can ask questions, get taxpayer's answers and work towards solutions that will restore Ontario's position as the economic engine of Canada. Until then, you'll be able to find me throughout Northumberland and Quinte West, in my offices and at community events, hearing your ideas on how to move our communities and the province of Ontario forward. Please never hesitate to my contact my staff or me to assist with any provincial government issues.
Published in Northumberland Today, Thursday, October 25, 2012, on page 3.
It’s been a busy few weeks, but very productive ones!
Less than two weeks ago, the Ontario government has begun to expand its plans for organ donation. Although the government says this will take several months before it is in place in every ServiceOntario office, the end result is that it will soon be mandatory for all applicants for a driver’s license or a health card to answer “yes” or “no” to the request to register with the Ontario Trillium Gift of Life Organ Donation Registry. This simple change will result in increased awareness throughout the province, and will, undoubtedly, save many lives. In the test marketing done, to date, an additional 8% of applicants joined the registry. Province-wide, that would translate into 920,000 additional registrations on top of the over two million generous and compassionate Ontarians who have already signed up. What is most remarkable is that one donor can save the lives of up to eight people! I encourage you to consider registering and you can find out more at www.beadonor.ca.
By far the greatest concern I'm hearing is the issue of the arbitrary cancellation of the very successful "Slots at Racetracks" partnership and how this will have devastating effects in the horse breeding and racing industry in our riding and all across the province. This partnership has been generating over $1.1 billion for the government, while providing employment for 60,000 people – more people than are employed in the auto industry in Ontario! On the other hand, revenue at the 10 provincial casinos has dropped from $1.3 billion per year, to only $100 million, so it’s difficult to see how one new casino will make up for the losses at the tracks.
Last Thursday, I was delighted to host Tim Hudak in Cobourg for one of the town hall meetings he has been holding all across Ontario. We had an excellent turnout, with over 80 people coming through the doors to hear Mr. Hudak and ask him questions. Mr. Hudak stressed the need for Ontario to get its financial house in order, and talked about the ways that failing to do so could negatively impact our core social services. People from communities all around Cobourg had a chance to see, first-hand, how Tim was prepared to offer straight-forward answers, to even the toughest of questions, and describe the steps he believes we need to take to return Ontario to its historic position as the strongest province in Canada.
I’m looking forward to hosting my own series of town hall meetings next month and hearing your ideas and concerns, on any provincial matter. The first will be in Port Hope, at the Town Park Recreation Centre, on Thursday, June 14, at 7 p.m., and the second in Brighton, at the Community Centre, on Tuesday, June 19, at 7 p.m. I look forward to seeing you there!
Published in Northumberland Today as 'Milligan set to host town hall meetings'.
On April 24 the Ontario budget will be voted on at Queen’s Park. I’ve been very clear over the past few weeks that I’ll be voting against the budget, but it’s important that I communicate to you, my fellow residents of Northumberland-Quinte West, why I don’t think this budget is good for our community, or Ontario as a whole.
As the Official Opposition, we supplied the government with a long list of ideas and suggestions that, we believe, would help turn around the economy of this province and reduce the size of the provincial deficit. Tim Hudak and the PC Caucus made a series of strong, principled proposals that would create jobs for the 600,000 unemployed Ontarians and put our province on the path to recovery. Our proposals were ignored and rejected.
Furthermore, after the government commissioned Don Drummond to write a report on how to reduce the cost of government, they have ignored half of his proposals and produced a budget that will increase this year’s annual debt, increase spending in 14 of Ontario’s 24 Ministries, and keep Ontario on a path towards annual debt of over $30 billion by 2018. This kind of fiscal situation will seriously jeopardize our ability to provide basic services to Ontarians in the future.
The budget also contains a direct attack on rural Ontario. The government has chosen to end the “Slots at Racetracks” Partnership. This decision will cost the government three dollars in lost revenue for every dollar they claim it will “save”, and will devastate the industry. The reality is that revenue from the horse-racing partnership has been steady, and in most years, shown a slight increase, today generating roughly $1.1 billion in revenue for the government. In place of this lost revenue, the government has proposed building more casinos, an area which has been showing significantly decreased revenue for the government in recent years.
Horse-racing and breeding are major components of the agricultural sector of our economy, employing 60,000 people across the province, including hundreds here in Northumberland and Quinte West. To date, I have received over 3,000 e-mails, letters and phone calls asking for my support in the fight to get the government to reverse this decision. I must defend the businesses and individuals in this riding who will be affected by this devastating action and that is why I will be voting against the Budget Bill.
I’d also like to take a moment to mention my Private Member’s Bill, Bill 58, which aims to increase awareness and participation in organ donation in Ontario. If the law is passed, when you renew your health card or driver’s licence you’ll be required to fill out a form stating whether or not you consent to donate your organs after death. Every three days, a resident of Ontario dies waiting for an organ donation. A single donor can save up to eight lives. To join the two million Ontarians who have generously signed on to the registry, please go to www.BeADonor.ca.
Published in Northumberland Today, as 'Northumberland MPP Milligan explains decision to vote against Budget Bill'