July 12, 2018 – A summer session of the Ontario Legislature kicked off today with a short Speech from the Throne laying out the priorities of Premier Ford’s government, which stayed true to his campaign promises.
Delivered by Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell, the speech highlighted an end to cap-and- trade, cancelling of green energy projects, and a Commission of Inquiry into the financial practices of the government, including a line by line audit of the government’s finances.
The government already delivered on one of its key campaign commitments to remove the head of Hydro One, Mayo Schmidt, and his $6 million salary. The Speech also included priorities such as:
- Expanding the sale of beer and wine to convenience stores, grocery stores and big box stores
- Lowering income and corporate taxes and hydro bills
- Refusing carbon taxes of any kinds, setting up a showdown with Prime Minister Trudeau over the federal legislation mandating a price on carbon for all provinces and territories.
- Working cooperatively with Ottawa to stand up for Ontario in NAFTA negotiations
- Working with municipal partners on transit and transportation needs
- A focus on respecting the needs of rural communities
- Honouring veterans and respecting police services
- Funding for 15,000 long-term care beds and a $3.8 billion investment in mental health and addictions support
- Returning to a balanced budget – although no timeline was specified.
Missing from the speech were legislative priorities previously announced by Government House Leader Todd Smith, including introducing back-to-work legislation to end the York University strike (though this was highlighted in the subsequent press release from the government) and cancelling the White Pines wind project.
Minister Greg Rickford is expected to introduce legislation that will prevent the government from having to pay for cancelled green energy projects, but the mechanics of that legislation are still unknown.
The Speech also highlighted the repeal of the controversial sex-ed curriculum, with teachers being instructed to use the old curriculum pending consultation and the development of a new curriculum.
Throne Speeches are always high in rhetoric and low in detail, but it is clear there is a new government in Ontario with emphasis on smaller government and empowering people. The PCs ran on change, and the Speech delivers. It’s a remarkable shift in tone from the previous government, best exemplified by this line: “Your government believes that no dollar is better spent than the dollar that is left in the pockets of the taxpayer.” It’s clear that this philosophy will guide them going forward.
The session begins in earnest on Monday, with newly-elected Speaker of the House Ted Arnott presiding over his first Question Period. Expect some fiery questions from the new Official Opposition, but for now, Ford Nation has set the agenda.