Why the legislature must reconvene

In recent weeks, there’s been a great deal of attention paid to Dalton McGuinty’s decision to shut down the Ontario legislature and lock MPPs out until his party chooses a new leader early next year.
While it is true that much of the work MPPs do in the community and for their constituents continues, this week we saw an important example of why it is important that MPPs return to work at Queen’s Park.
In the past, we in Kenora-Rainy River riding have seen first-hand how the legislature can be an effective tool to obtain the results we need.
For instance, this past spring I was contacted by the family of a person who just underwent major surgery in Winnipeg. The woman was set to be released the next morning and was told she would have to drive home—a four-hour drive.
The woman and her family believed she wasn’t well enough to withstand the drive, so they called me for assistance. Because the legislature was sitting, I was able to speak with the minister directly that day to see what could be done.
If a similar problem were to be raised today, there still are tools at my disposal I can use to get answers and deliver results. But the chance of an immediate resolution is reduced, especially with many ministers resigning their positions in order to run in the Liberal leadership race.
It may seem unimportant to some, but the ability to walk across the room and speak directly to a minister can be a very effective tool in delivering immediate and effective results—and that’s just one of the many tools that can be employed when the legislature is sitting.
Similarly, if Queen’s Park was sitting today as it was scheduled to be, we could use Question Period and other tools—such as Questions on the Order Paper (which require an answer within 24 days) and adjournment debates—to get answers about the recent government decision to delay, and possibly cancel, the conversion of Thunder Bay’s coal-fired energy plant to natural gas.
Considering that there is not enough of an energy supply to meet the needs of our region’s mining opportunities, it seems strangely convenient that the decision was announced at a time when the government can limit access to those who are able to provide answers.
With jobs hanging in the balance, the people of Thunder Bay deserve answers. As do those of us who were set to benefit from the jobs this energy supply was intended to create.
This decision has the potential to kill development across the north.
It’s time for the Liberal government to put the people of this province ahead of their own narrow interests and reconvene the legislature immediately.

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