A New Democrat's view of Doug Ford's government - Burlington is getting stiffed.

opinionandcommentBy Andrew Drummond

July 9th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The past week has given us a clear indication of the direction the new provincial government will take. Most of their decisions have been a follow through on things that Premier Ford said during the election campaign.

The long fight against the federal government regarding cap and trade for example, was something the Ontario PCs seemed to relish having and we will spend months or years on this battle that they seemed to want. Others of their decisions, such as delaying implementation of anti-scalping measures seemed to be less predictable.

But each of the actions taken so far will have a local impact in Burlington either directly or indirectly. So below is an evaluation of some of the actions taken by the new Ontario government and how they will impact our city and community.

LOCAL REPRESENTATION
The cabinet was announced on June 29, and perhaps expectedly, neither Jane McKenna nor Effie Triantafilopoulos was chosen for cabinet. But after the parliamentary assistants were named, and Effie was given a prominent role while Jane was overlooked, it became clear that Jane is not among the most trusted in the Conservative cabinet.

McKenna + Drummond

Andrew Drummond NDP candidate during the provincial election in conversation with Jane McKenna, now the MPP for Burlington,.

How does this impact Burlington? There are many pieces of government funding that rely on the local MPP to wield influence. The most prominent example of which is funding for Joseph Brant.  Across Jane’s first term in government Jo Brant was the lowest rated emergency room in all of Ontario. Over the last few years that has improved slightly (we are still in the bottom quartile) but the improvement came from funding that our MPP fought for. If the local MPP wields no influence, can we be sure that Jo Brant is going to get the operational funding it needs to continue its improvement? It is critical that we see action from our MPP that shows she has the influence in the government to get Burlington the support it so desperately needs.

CAP AND TRADE
Of all the announcements from the incoming government, the one publicized the most was the end of the Cap and Trade system implemented by the previous government. However, in declaring the end of that program, the government gave no notice as to what they intended to do about the Cap and Trade credits already purchased by companies intending to use them on the market. This is a 2.9 billion dollar investment that Ontario businesses that the government to this point has not explained how they will make companies whole.

The details on exactly who has spent how much on credits is not publicly available, so it is difficult to pin an exact figure on how much liability there is to Burlington specifically. And we are lucky that Burlington did not join this program and open us up to risks like other municipalities did (examples: Kingston, Kitchener). But there are undoubtedly local effects. Every negative consequence for province wide industries will effect us locally too.

And of the most concern is the limited impact this will have for Burlington. As was argued during the election campaign, there is sizable evidence that the price of gas is more controlled by market forces and less by costs. With that comes a risk that any reduction in gas taxation will not have any measurable impact on price and rather only increase profits for gas companies. The premier’s quote on the issue “We just have a good heart-to-heart talk with the oil companies and understand that they’re being watched right now,” also does not spark confidence that Burlington will see any meaningful cost savings from this government policy.

ANTI-SCAPLING LEGISLATION

The Ford government has made a number of quiet changes since being sworn in that will impact quality of life in Burlington. One of those was a delay in the implementation of the Ticket Sales Act that would have limited the resale price of a ticket to 50% above the printed price on a ticket. The company Stubhub believes that the law is dangerous because it is important to ensure sales “occur on platforms that provide vital consumer protections.” Most consumers would interpret this argument as Stubhub saying: If consumers are going to be gouged we’d like our cut of the gouging fees.

For Burlington residents this means that it will continue to be impossible to find tickets to concerts and key sporting events at reasonable prices. CBC did an analysis of some upcoming concerts in Toronto and noticed some egregious examples on resale ticket sites. Bruno Mars tickets raised from $100 to over $13,000 or Elton John from $221 to $1,878. The average family in Burlington cannot compete at those prices. As long as tickets can be bought in large buckets and then resold at incredible markups, the average Burlington family will be shut out of these events. And the Ford government is apparently ok with that.

Dowdeswell delivering Throne Speech MAr 16-2018

Lieutenant Governor Dowdeswell delivering Throne Speech

So in all, it is difficult to see how anything in the first week of this government has had any positive impact on the day-to-day life of people in Burlington. From questions about how effective our MPP will be at securing critical hospital operating dollars to potentially costing local businesses millions in now useless Cap and Trade credits to blocking legislation to help us afford popular events, most actions to date seem in the best interest of people outside of our community.

However, the government will give its speech from the throne this week. We all remain optimistic that the government will set an agenda that will be better than these first early actions. Time will tell if there is any chance of Burlington being a priority for the next 4 years.

Andrew Drummond HeadshotThe opinions are those of Andrew Drummond, the New Democratic candidate for Burlington.  He placed second, ahead of the Liberal and Green Party candidates.  He is employed in the marketing and sales department of a major internet, cable TV and wireless service provider.

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5 comments to A New Democrat’s view of Doug Ford’s government – Burlington is getting stiffed.

  • Steve D

    @Philip………. Yup, and energy policy that ignores Ontario’s huge wealth in cheap reliable natural gas, and focuses on utterly unreliable and insanely expensive, solar and wind. Putting families in the poor house with hydro prices.

  • Philip Waggett

    If you want to see how Burlington was really getting stiffed, take a look at the two tax-and-spend parties–the NDP and Liberals. “Forced intensification” (although in fairness, a very weak mayor and council let it happen), higher taxes, an idiotic energy policy—yeah, Andrew, Burlingtonians are really getting stiffed!?!?

  • Hans

    I thought the head of Hydro One was supposed to be unemployed by now, n’est-ce pas?

  • Lonely Taxpayer

    Cheez Whiz Pump the brakes…?!

    New government hasn’t even had Day 1 in Parliament and are already being questioned.

    And was Burlington really expected to be #1 on their priority list ?

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