There are skeptics who hold the view that they are powerless to influence political change. This is not generally true. Public input is sought at all levels of the political process though the establishment of committees whose job entails listening to people and making modifications to policies and programs. The City of Toronto has such an input mechanism as does the Parliament of Canada.
Today the lone exception is the Province of Ontario.
Following the Ontario provincial election last October we found ourselves in the position of having a minority government. This was not new to Ontario but from the reaction of Premier McGuinty you would think that this was completely new to Canadian political life. There is a minority parliament yet the governing party has insisted on giving themselves a committee structure which obviates the electoral outcome.
Their proposal would be to appoint opposition members to non-voting chairperson positions to secure majority status. The two parties in opposition point out generations of Canadian and commonwealth experience which actually reflect the seats that are held, (i.e. less than 50% of the voting members).
Committees are the heart of the legislative process. Members from all parties are responsible for making every piece of legislation right for the people who elect us. The process allows for debate, negotiation and public consultation.
Mid-January to mid-February is the period when the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs travels across the province to elicit opinion and advice from the people of Ontario. The opinions of more than 200 deputants and nearly as many written correspondents forms the bulk off information used in our annual budget, which is tabled in late March.
Because there are no committees struck the essential voice of the people is not being heard. Government intransigence is leading to skeptisism.
We all need to tell our government that it has an obligation to listen. The fact that it is in a minority position is even more reason for it to consider diverse opinions.
The people of Beaches-East York and the people of this Province deserve nothing less. As your elected representative and as the NDP Critic for Finance we need to get down to work. We have an economy to set right, most importantly for the 13 million people to whom we must listen.
Happy New Year to all.
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