(Queen's Park) - Randy Hillier, Ontario PC Critic for Northern Development, Mines and Forestry, condemned the McGuinty Liberals for slamming the door shut on Northern Ontario families with their forest tenure legislation. Third reading on Bill 151 was limited to only 1 hour of debate this morning, after which the Liberals passed this dangerous legislation.
Throughout the process, the McGuinty Liberals have continued to conveniently neglect the overwhelming opposition to this legislation from across Northern Ontario. Back in March, the Liberals chose to cut off travel to northern communities for consultations on Bill 151, they were hammered with a flood of opposition from the Mayors of Timmins, Thunder Bay, Ignace, Espanola, Sioux Lookout, and Iroquois Falls. The forest industry has also expressed dismay with the lack of consultation perpetrated by the McGuinty Government.
Parliamentary Assistant Mike Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin) was then caught talking out both sides of his mouth as he cancelled northern hearings from the comfort of Toronto. In hearings, he stated that the Liberals had “heard enough” from Northern Ontario. Yet back in his riding, Brown told the Mid-North Monitor that he wanted consultations in Espanola. Espanola was one of the many communities that contacted Brown pleading for consultations in Northern Ontario - pleas that he chose to ignore.
Despite opposition from communities across Northern Ontario calling on the Liberals to slow the process on Bill 151, and consult with them and their families, the Liberals proceeded to time-allocate the bill, which cut off the already shortened window of time for debate. They then ignored suggested amendments from the Ontario PCs as well as the Ontario Forest Industry Association and the Ontario Bar Association.
The end result is yet another bad piece of legislation for Northern Ontario written by downtown Toronto consultants. The impact of Bill 151 will be even more closed timber mills and more lost jobs.
“This Liberal Government has played a four month long shell game with the foresters and families of Northern Ontario. Since January the Minister has promised that the legislation was designed for Northern Ontario, yet the Liberals have demonstrated that this legislation was created by downtown Toronto environmental lobbyists.”
- Randy Hillier, MPP
PC Party Critic for Northern Development, Mines and Forestry
“The McGuinty Liberals, led by Mike Brown in Committee, cut off consultations throughout the North because they knew how strong the opposition was to this legislation. They have now rammed through a piece of uncertain and experimental legislation that will directly and negatively impact the economy of Northern Ontario.”
- Steve Clark, MPP