Speech by Tim Hudak, MPP, Ontario PC Leader to the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) – May 12, 2011

This speech was given in Timmins, Ontario on May 12, 2011

“It took 23 Premiers 136 years to accumulate Ontario’s first $148 billion in debt. Dalton
McGuinty will single-handedly double that number in his eight years in office. Over the
past decade, the economic performance of Ontario – as measured by GDP per capita –
has been the worst of any Canadian province. We have fallen into have not status.”
(Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak, Timmins, May 12, 2011)

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Good morning et bonjour!

C’est un plaisir d’être ici avec vous à Timmins.

I want to thank you all for having me here today – it’s always a pleasure to be back in Timmins.

I’d also like to recognize Vic Fedeli (PC Candidate, Nipissing) who is joining us today. In his eight years as mayor for North Bay, Vic brought real change to northern families – we’re delighted he’s now working with us to bring change for all of Ontario.

And Vic isn’t alone in the experience he brings to the PC Party – we’ve also recruited Joe Chapman, mayor of Northeastern Manitoulin & the Islands, to run for us in Algoma-Manitoulin.

Joe couldn’t be here today but he sends his regards. And of course, thank you Alan [Spacek, President of FONOM and Mayor of Kapuskasing] for that kind introduction. I met with Alan just a couple of months ago to discuss FONOM’s priorities. His passion for not just Kapuskasing, but the whole of northern Ontario, is incredible.

Not only has he shown decisive leadership at FONOM, I had the pleasure of working with him at the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund when I was Minister of Northern Development and Mines.

Together, we knew supporting northern Ontario was crucial to our province’s success. We worked with northern mayors, community leaders, families and businesses – and I’m proud of the bonds we forged here.

Donc, je vous remerci d’etre ici aujourd’hui.

And I want to thank each and every one of you for being here today, and for FONOM’s leadership in our proud northern communities.

Friends, speaking of leadership, the great American hotel owner Conrad Hilton was interviewed years ago on a big TV talk show. The host asked, “Mr. Hilton: You are one of the world’s most admired business leaders. You’re talking to millions of people tonight. Is there one thing you’d like to say to them?”

Hilton did not hesitate. “Yes there is.” He looked straight at the camera and said: “Put the
shower curtain inside the tub.”

Now there was a man with a clear message. I’ve come today with what I hope is an equally clear message:

Ontario is losing ground. Northern Ontario is losing ground.

Why? Not because of the global economic challenges.

Certainly not because Ontarians do not work hard.

Not because this province has lost its abundant natural resources or its prime geographic location.

All our human potential remains in place: our motivated workers, our creative entrepreneurs, our world-class companies.

Yet they now face the burden of a provincial government that is out of touch.

Obsessed with its own pet projects.

Disconnected from discussions around kitchen tables.

Unaware of the consequences of spending too much in good years and bad.

It took 23 Premiers 136 years to accumulate Ontario’s first $148 billion in debt. Dalton McGuinty will single-handedly double that number in his eight years in office.

Over the past decade, the economic performance of Ontario – as measured by GDP per capita – has been the worst of any Canadian province. We have fallen into have not status.

And our unemployment rate has exceeded the national average for 52 consecutive months.

Unemployment in the north is higher still.

Ontario’s mining industry – once the top jurisdiction in the world under a PC government – has fallen to 20th on the world stage – and seventh in Canada alone.

Northern Ontario has been hit especially hard – where 60 mills have closed, 45,000 northern jobs were lost, and the unemployment rate sits 50% higher than the provincial average.

And now, Xstrata has moved its copper smelter plant out of this city and into Quebec, taking hundreds of jobs with it.

I worry that if we continue on this path, we may never recover.

Ontario cannot accept this fate. I will not accept this fate.

I am running for Premier to bring solutions – to turn this province around – to restore Ontario as the best place in North America to raise a family, build a business, and make a future.

Make no mistake: We need change. I will bring change.

None of us in this room blame Dalton McGuinty for the global financial crisis.

The crisis was not born in Canada. It was not born in Ontario.

But the crisis hit Canada, and it hit Ontario, and our leaders are measured by how they respond.

Ontario under-performed on the way into the global crisis; lagged behind during the global crisis.

And we are limping our way out of the global crisis.

We need a new approach. I am here today to describe a future that works.

A future of more jobs, higher incomes, affordable energy.

A future where we buy only as much government as we need and can afford – and where government has to deliver results.

Reliably. Effectively. Without work stoppages.

At a reasonable price, just like every other player in the Ontario economy.

Now I know – a lot of people are cynical about politics. No wonder.

They have heard a lot of grand promises over the past few years like no tax increases.

Promises broken and broken again.

Instead of grand promises, I am here to make a commitment to you:

I will run a government that respects the people who work hard, raise families, and pay the province’s bills.

I will run a government that has more important priorities than teaching sex-ed to 6 year olds.

I will run a government that respects what you do and then let you do it.

Instead of raising taxes for most – while lavishing special breaks for the favored few, I will offer a plan to cut taxes across the board.

Instead of runaway spending that jeopardizes government services for future generations, I will make government live within its means.

Instead of more bureaucracy, more red tape, more pet projects, I will invest in healthcare first.

Instead of chasing business out of the province, I will invite business in – and create an environment that nurtures the businesses born here.

And friends, we will subject every obstacle and burden on business to the most exacting test. If it cannot justify itself – it goes.

To obtain a single Crown Sustainable Forestry License, for example, it can take up to five years, cost you $1 million dollars, and fill a staggering 14 binders full of paperwork.

It’s like Dalton McGuinty’s only solution for keeping mills open in Ontario was to increase the paper burden on business!

You’re the experts – we should be listening to you. You’ve been home to the pulp and paper mills, the refineries and smelting plants.

You have a vested interest in seeing the far north flourish, and areas like the Ring of Fire have huge untapped potential.

But if we continue on the path we are on, McGuinty government policies like the Far North Act will continue to undermine our potential and prosperity, hurting Ontario and the north especially.

You’re trying to run your community – you don’t need big city, southern Ontario solutions being forced on the North in a one-size-fits all approach.

As municipal leaders, you know it’s not right when many northern rural municipalities don’t receive a dime in provincial gas tax because they don’t have a transit system.

You know Ontario’s arbitration system is broken. While local governments face the cold, hard reality of balanced budgets, arbitrators thumb their noses at the province and hand out rich wage increases to the public sector.

As Premier, I will move away from this idea of one-size fits-all model of governing.

We’ll fix the broken provincial gas tax program and give municipalities who don’t get a dime access to funds for roads and bridges as well.

We will make the arbitration process more accountable, so you can see the reasoning behind their decisions. Clear timeframes local government can count on. And we will ensure agreements reflect the ability of families to pay the bills.

And when it comes to paying the bills, the challenge I hear the most is the skyrocketing hydro rates families are coping with.

Families across Ontario are coping with higher hydro costs that are the result of expensive, out-of-touch energy experiments, and nowhere is that more true than in the north.

That’s why an Ontario PC government recently announced it will end the sweetheart Samsung deal and Dalton McGuinty’s FIT program.

Instead, our PC energy policy will respect the environment – AND family budgets.

This province was built on affordable, reliable electricity.

The McGuinty government has spent over a billion dollars on their so called “smart meter” scheme: another one of those expensive mistakes that add to the cost of Hydro.

A scheme that managed to do something amazing – break the law of supply and demand.

McGuinty’s scheme raised the price of electricity for almost all Ontarians without promoting conservation.

Instead of savings on their hydro bill, families are seeing long lines at the bathroom as budget-conscious northern families struggle to get everybody showered before 7 AM when the prices go up.

But guess what? Not all families can do that. So they get soaked instead with just another tax grab.

We all feel the tax squeeze every day.

But the electricity squeeze may do even more harm to job creation and job retention.

This remains an industrial province. We mine. We forge.

We bend metal. We produce timber. We weld. We haul.

We forklift. We ship. All of this work demands electricity and fuel.

We are also an information-technology province…

Computer servers must be plugged into a socket. The socket connects to a grid. The grid must have a power source.

That may sound obvious, but these days Queen’s Park has trouble seeing the obvious.

This government sees its job as raising electricity prices in order to support power sources that flunk economic sense.

Consumers feel it. Employers feel it. Job seekers suffer the consequences.

It’s like they have a philosophy:

If it works, break it.

If it’s broken, hide it.

If you run out of money, borrow it.

Everything is government’s business, but nothing is ever
government’s fault.

I have the opposite point of view.

If it works, leave it alone.

If it’s broken, fix it.

If you are out of money, stop spending.

Government must focus on what it does best, and deliver fair value and a fair deal to the people who pay the bills.

My friends, we need change.

Madames et messieurs, avec un gouvernement PC, changement est à l’avenir.

A commitment to buying only as much government as we can afford. Change to a fair deal for all Ontarians, both the Ontarians who are paid by taxes and the Ontarians who pay the taxes.

It’s a change for more jobs. More money in your pocket.
More time with your family.

Like most Ontarians, mine was a family that chose Canada. They tell me that if elected premier, I’ll be the first to trace his origins outside the British Isles.

When my family chose Canada, they knew – we were choosing the very best place to live on this whole planet, and that Ontario offered the greatest opportunities in Canada.

It was true then. With your support: I’ll make it true again.

Friends, I want to be Premier to stand up for families like my grandparents that came here to seek a better life.

To restore Ontario as the economic engine that drives this great country.

To ensure that my daughter Miller will have every opportunity that I’ve had – and more.

To deliver the change that Ontario needs. And on October 6, exactly 147 days from now, with your support, we will deliver that change.

Thank you very much et merci beaucoup.

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