It had all the makings of a first-class election stop – well-spoken politicians, party faithful, allegations about government misdeeds and a good amount of indignation.
The occasion, however, wasn’t a federal election event but instead was the latest stop on provincial finance critic Vic Fedeli’s tour to let Ontarians know that although the provincial election is over, the issues remain.
“This is about letting people know that they can’t just wait quietly for the next election in 2018,” the Nipissing MPP said. “We need the electorate to stay involved or the Wynne government will hand us a very different Ontario when they go to the polls.”
Fedeli and Chatham-Kent-Essex MPP Rick Nicholls may have lost the war but they’re gearing up for the next battle.
The pair, dubbed Batman and Robin, for their fight against the Wynne government warned about what they call a provincial shell game behind the sale of Ontario Hydro and the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP).
Fedeli spoke to more than 20 people at Deer Run Golf Course in two different sessions. Earlier in the day he spoke to a similar crowd in Leamington.
“This is how we’re going to do it, we’re going to tell 20 people and they will tell 10 each and we’ll reach out.”
Fedeli said the ORPP is nothing more than a tax but it is a tax with particularly chilling effects.
“This plan is an immense over reaction to a problem that didn’t even exist,” he said. “More than 80 per cent of Ontarians will be able to maintain their lifestyle after retirement.”
Information supplied to the Wynne government showed that if the plan raised $2 billion in taxes from businesses and Ontario workers, 18,000 jobs will be lost.
“The Government wants to raise $3 billion in taxes so do the math – we’re talking about 31,000 jobs.”
He said every business group in Ontario is against the move and confidence in Ontario’s economy has dropped from 42 to 29 percent.
Due to opposition pressure, the plan has been modified to some degree and is being phased in at a slower pace.
“The insidious part of this plan is that the bulk of the forced enrollment in the plan will take place just after the next election in 2018,” he said. “It’s pure political motivation.”
He urged those in attendance to write letters to newspapers, use social media, contact the government and let their views be known.
“We’ve crowbarred the door in a little crack; let’s keep going.”
Fedeli said there is no way to stop the Ontario Hydro selloff but the spotlight needs to remain on the transaction.
“We don’t know what price they’re getting, we don’t know for sure how they’re going to use the money and the Wynne government has changed the law so that Hydro is accountable to no one, not even the auditor general. It is an egregious action we can’t let go unanswered.”
Claims that the proceeds will be used for transit are bogus, he claimed, since that money is already in the provincial budget.
“They’re going to use the money from the sale to pay off some of the provincial debt, I believe,” he said. “It’s the only way they’re going to even put a dent in it.”
Before they Wynne government changed the law, proceeds from Hydro sales were forced to be applied to Hydro debt.
“Now, the government plans to sell the asset (Hydro) without paying off the mortgage (Hydro debt). If you did that with your house, you would be in a lot of trouble.”