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Keeping Busy at Queen's Park

(Queen's Park Report - December 15, 2009) The recent session of the Legislature was dominated by the HST and spending scandals at eHealth, OLG and other government agencies.  We’ve all heard the stories so I want to use this column talk about some of the other work that I undertook this fall at Queen’s Park.

One of my chief concerns has been securing aid for apple growers in The Blue Mountains who were devastated by the F2 tornado that swept through Ontario in August.  Throughout the past few months, I have met regularly with our apple growers, including a trip to Clarksburg with the Deputy Minister of Agriculture to sort through recovery efforts.  I have also raised the issue in Question Period several times in an effort to appeal for the extraordinary assistance needed to pick up from the storm.

Truck drivers, driving school operators and students know all too well about the ongoing DriveTest strike.   In November I introduced a back-to-work bill in the Legislature to put an end to the strike. The strike has been dragging on since August and it is having a major impact for those who need to get their drivers’ license or upgrade their skills for employment.  I’ll continue to hammer away at the issue in the hopes of getting a speedy resolution to the impasse.

Another challenge has been brewing at the Simcoe County Children’s Aid Society.  The services they provide are mandated by the province and yet Dalton McGuinty is underfunding their programs to the tune of $5.5 million.  This is troubling not only to me, but also to local children and families.  I have raised this issue with in Question Period and I will continue to follow it closely.

In my job as Opposition Critic for Colleges and Universities and Research and Innovation, I have been critical of the government in Question Period for its new distinction as the administration with the highest tuition fees in all of Canada.  On the research side, I am worried that Ontario is falling behind in the commercialization of products – issues I raised with the government at Standing Committee on Estimates. 

I also met frequently with groups and individuals from across the province and throughout the riding.  Recent meeting’s included the Police Association of Ontario, Council of Ontario Universities, College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Georgian Triangle Real Estate Board and countless others.  I’ve also been delighted to enjoy the company of constituents Pete and Bev Baxter, Richard and Liam Yeats, and Deb Keep and Bob Ferrer at Queen’s Park this fall.  All were successful bidders on auction items I donated to All Saints Anglican Church, the Knights of Columbus and the Tim Horton’s Charity Golf Tournament for lunch and a personal tour of the Legislature.

While late night sittings tend to keep me at Queen’s Park during the week, I also had the opportunity to attend a host of riding events, including the opening of the new CT scanner at Stevenson Memorial Hospital, a tour of the expansion project at Royal Victoria Hospital, the South Simcoe Business Awards, and Remembrance Day activities in Collingwood, Tottenham, Beeton, Alliston, Creemore and Wasaga Beach. 

These are just some of the activities that have kept me busy over the past few months.  I look forward to being back home and catching up with friends I have missed while the Legislature was in session.  If you’d like to know more about my work, please visit my website at or find me on Facebook.

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