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Ontario Hansard - 10-September2012

Mrs. Jane McKenna: It's a pleasure to get up again to speak on Bill 115. It has been an honour and a privilege for me to not only have this position that I have, but to have been on the social policy committee when we discussed this bill.

I'd like to thank, first and foremost, the member from Nepean-Carleton, the critic for education, and our leader, Tim Hudak, for the leadership they took on this file, and it was a privilege for me to even be part of that. I'd also like to thank everybody who was there on the committee, because it is a daunting task. We are all very passionate and sit in the seats we sit because we believe in what we believe in. To listen and respect others and their opinions is a wonderful opportunity, and I am very grateful for that opportunity.

The wonderful thing about sitting there is that you have the opportunity to hear everybody come in-as much as we could. It was a very crammed, fast process. But the people who did come in are as passionate as we are, sitting there, trying to get their points across-because it is very frustrating when you feel that you've come to deaf ears. We all understand that you can only negotiate something when there are able negotiators, and when you can't, you do fall on deaf ears. A leader who doesn't have negotiation skills because all he's done is throw things at every problem with no output of what was thrown into the pocket of all the monies that were given out, creates chaos. And as we can see here today, we have chaos once again.

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The number one thing I know in my household, when running my budget, is that when you lose control of your finances, you lose control of your destiny. We have lost control of that. How unfortunate that we are even in the position we are in on the backs of the taxpayers. When we had people come in and sit down and speak, they talked about all the things they were looking to get, and rightly so. I mean, when you are the Premier of Ontario, you have an obligation to sit down and listen to the parties at hand and to be under one roof in that room. You don't continue, after nine years, to vilify one against the other, and you don't put people in a position to feel as frustrated as we feel sitting across as opposition when we're trying to get answers from the government, which we can't get. I clearly understand the frustration that everybody feels right now. You feel like your hands are tied and there is absolutely nothing you can do to change that environment.

But people say to me, "Jane, where's the clarity? Jane, what's the rhetoric? What are we trying to do? We're so confused." I could clearly understand that when we knocked on doors in Kitchener-Waterloo. People were so confused at what was going on. I understood and sympathized with them, because I thought to myself, "My gosh, I've been here 11 months, almost a year, and it's so frustrating for me to be in the process here, to try to understand what exactly is going on." The majority of times, we don't know, because there is such chaos all the time, and smoke and mirrors constantly, that nobody really knows what's going on. You really have to sit down and be grateful for your colleagues who give you clarification on what exactly has transpired so you can go out, when you're knocking on doors, and people can understand what is actually going on.

When you look at Kitchener-Waterloo, knocking on doors there, and all of a sudden we had Vaughan come up, I had a fellow at the door the other day say to me, "What was the purpose of that?" I said, "Well, the reality was that we have to go over to Vaughan to knock on doors," but at the end of the day, it's to say, "Well, you know what? I lost there, but I won there." It's just smoke and mirrors. Reality is reality. You only needed to win there to get a majority. It had nothing to do with Vaughan.

The bottom line for us was that we wanted to make sure the government did not become a majority, and we are eternally grateful that we all worked as hard as we possibly could so that we didn't have that happen to us. I am very grateful for that.

But I want to say-again, back to the process of talking about Bill 115, as the opposition party-our leader, Tim Hudak, went to speak to the Premier in November, if I'm correct in saying that, and was given a frosty few minutes, 20 minutes or whatever, to talk about that situation across the board to have a plan. Then again, MPP Jeff Yurek here brought a bill forward in May for an across-the-board wage freeze to bring some clarity, so people could understand what we were doing to move forward.

We don't want to leave it to your children, your grandchildren, my children, my grandchildren to inherit this mess. We have an opportunity that's been entrusted to us by Ontarians to make this the best place it could possibly be. If it's not symbolic enough for you that we are receiving equalization payments for the very first time in our entire lives, then what else is there to say? We have to understand that we are in terrible shape. With all the smoke and mirrors that go on all the time, people don't understand how bad it actually is. We spend $1.8 million more an hour than we take in, and 20% of it is borrowed money that we're spending to pay toward that. We spend $10 billion on the interest on the debt every year. So if we spend 1% more, and the interest goes up, that's $500 million that we could be giving to front-line health care, to the education of the teachers, to get things better instead of always-nothing has gotten any better.

We're at a place right now after nine years where we're patronized and constantly spoken to across here about, "Well, it just is what it is." Well, it's not, "It is what it is." You took advantage of the taxpayers and spent money on eHealth for $1 billion, Ornge for $1 billion, closed two plants for two votes-roughly, it's $500 million, but it won't be that; it's going to be so much more. On top of all that, we have our green FIT program that we're all subsidizing from our homes which is double on our bill for global adjustment. For seniors that can't even pay their hydro bills-


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