Editorial By Jim Wilson, The Barrie Examiner
Voters across our riding will soon go to the polls to elect the people they want to serve on their town councils.
While you won’t find me endorsing any local candidate, I believe that these campaigns matter. It is an opportunity to place your faith in the individuals who you believe will make the best decisions for your community. Unfortunately, the model of local government is at risk.
Since Dalton McGuinty was first elected premier, we have seen a disturbing trend in Ontario where the priorities of unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats, managers and administrators are trumping elected local governments.
This is wrong.
We have all seen it happen, especially our locally elected councillors. From conservation authorities to Places to Grow, to the Greenbelt and the Green Energy Act, to a broken gas tax formula that picks winners and losers based on whether a town owns a bus. These are examples of provincial interference with a local communities’ power to make decisions.
Just look at the Green Energy Act. It is not only causing electricity prices to rise faster than a shuttle out of the Kennedy Space Centre, it also strips away planning authority from elected municipal governments and transfers that power to faceless bureaucrats at the Ontario Power Authority.
When he announced his decision to do this, McGuinty said, “Municipalities will no longer be able to reject wind turbines, solar panels, or bio-fuel plants because they don’t like them. We can’t allow interests to oppose these simply because they don’t like them.”
I, for one, am fed up with McGuinty’s ‘Premier knows best’ attitude. Not only does he not trust us to raise our children right, he also seems to believe that local councillors are so incompetent that they don’t even know what’s best for their communities. What arrogance.
Earlier this month, I attended a meeting of Grey County Council in Owen Sound. It is one of the many local governments, including Simcoe County, which voted to express serious concerns with giant industrial wind farms being installed in their area. Despite these objections, the province simply ploughed ahead with their plan to install these turbines wherever they see fit.
That is wrong.
To be clear, I have no objection to renewable energy. I simply believe that it should only be built where it is welcomed and wanted and at prices ratepayers can afford. That is why a Tim Hudak Progressive Conservative government will restore the decision-making powers that McGuinty took from local councils. We will empower municipalities to direct modern, affordable energy investments in their communities.
To quote Hudak from a recent speech he gave to Ontario municipalities, “I believe the secret to good government comes from respecting your partners, keeping your word, sticking to a budget, and staying true to your principles — transparency, consistency, and local-decision making power. That’s the kind of partner I will be. It’s what I am offering to you today. And it is what I look forward to offering the people of Ontario.”
So get out and vote on Oct. 25, because under a Progressive Conservative government, we will respect our partners on town councils and the faith that you place in them.
Jim Wilson is the Progressive Conservative MPP for Simcoe-Grey.