Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath's speech to Provincial Council: November 14, 2015

Good morning everyone!

Bonjour à toutes et à tous ! C’est un plaisir de vous retrouver à l’occasion de notre Conseil provincial de cet automne. Je vous remercie de votre présence aujourd’hui.

It’s good to be back together for our fall Provincial Council.

I know how hard you’ve all been working. Not just for 78 days, the longest campaign in living memory. Not just during the summer. But for months on end, you’ve been working to elect New Democrats.

The people in this room have given thousands of hours to run strong campaigns in 121 local ridings across this province.

How many candidates do we have with us today? If you could stand, let’s give them all a hand!

Elizabeth Van Houtte, our phenomenal candidate in the Simcoe-North by-election is here too. Elizabeth, please stand, you deserve our thanks.

If you worked or volunteered on a campaign, stand up! You deserve a round of applause.

 

To our remarkable Members of Parliament, who have served this Party and this movement so well, we are incredibly grateful for their tireless dedication. From Parkdale to Scarborough, downtown Ottawa to Thunder Bay, our NDP Members of Parliament have served the people of this province very, very well. 

And let’s give a hand to our federal leader, Tom Mulcair, for showing the entire country what principled national leadership looks like. From affordable child care, to a federal minimum wage, to support for manufacturing jobs and real action to eliminate child poverty in this country.

Of course, the result on October 19th wasn’t what we hoped for. It’s not the national NDP government that we are working so hard to achieve.

We can be proud of a campaign that spoke to the struggles and challenges that families face, but we all know that we can do better. And that we must do better.

There are people, today, who want to write us off. People who think that New Democrats just can’t win. 

And it’s up to us to prove them wrong right here in Ontario.

The families of this province, families with real struggles and real worries, need a government that actually stands up for them. They need to know that someone is listening. They need a Premier who actually has the right priorities.

Those are the families we work for. And that’s why we don’t give up.

We dust ourselves off and we get back to work for the people of Ontario! 

This weekend, together, we’ll start to learn the lessons of this campaign. What worked well.

And what needs to be done better, as we lay the groundwork for our winningprovincial campaign, now less than two-and-a-half years away.

I am determined that we will be ready – and I am determined that we will win in 2018.

Because families are counting on us.  Ontarians are counting on us.

The first step, as we continue to build, is to make sure that the new supporters and activists who joined our campaign in this election, can stay involved and stay connected to the work that we are doing.

Les personnes qui ne s’étaient jamais impliquées en politique auparavant. Et les personnes qui ne s’estimaient représentées par aucun des partis politiques.

The people who stepped into our campaign offices on College Street and on the Danforth, and stepped into our movement. The people who knocked on doors in Brampton and Oshawa and Essex. The people who got excited and got engaged, for the very first time, in NDP campaigns all over this province.

Those new volunteers and new supporters share our belief in a better way forward.

And it’s our job to make sure that they play a key role in continuing to grow and build our party. The party that offers hope, and optimism, and real solutions for the people of this province!

With their help we will be able to reconnect with our supporters, especially right here in Toronto.

And we will be able to reach out to people who share our vision, share our priorities, but have never voted NDP before.

A growing number of Ontarians are looking for change. Change at Queen’s Park.

De plus en plus d’Ontariens et d’Ontariennes veulent voir du changement à Queen’s Park.

Aujourd’hui, nous avons une première ministre et un gouvernement libéral qui sont complètement déconnectés de la population de l’Ontario. L’actuelle première ministre est incapable de mesurer l’effet de ses décisions sur les citoyens et citoyennes de notre province.

Today, we see a Premier and a Liberal government that is out-of-step with the people of Ontario. A Premier who is far removed from the impact of her decisions on the people of this province.

Look at our schools. Parents see the chaos that the Liberals have created in our classrooms.

We’ve seen cuts to special education. Layoff notices to the teachers and educational assistants who are devoted to helping the most vulnerable students. 

We’ve seen more than a year of disrespect and confrontation with education workers. And we’ve seen the closure of nearly one hundred schools over the past four years.

Those cuts put the very principles of public education at risk. They chip away at our shared belief, as Ontarians, that no child should be left behind…

… just because they need a bit of extra help…

… or just because they live in rural Ontario…

… or just because their parents are struggling to make ends meet. 

We see the same kind of cuts impacting even younger kids. Public, licensed child care centres that should be the backbone of affordable child care in this province are being closed from Sarnia to Sudbury. 

At a time when tens of thousands of young moms and dads are searching – and waiting – for child care they can afford… 

… at a time when a mother in Brampton is forced to spend a third of every dollar she makes this year just to pay for the child care she needs…

… we need more public child care centres, not less.

And look at the health care services that all of our families rely on.

More than 600 nursing jobs have been cut just this year in Ontario’s hospitals. The latest round of layoff notices were handed out, this week, to health care workers at the North Bay hospital. 

Those cuts don’t just hurt the most vulnerable patients, who have to wait even longer for the care they need. Those cuts hit our rural and Northern communities the hardest. 

On Tuesday, we learned that families in Ontario wait longer than people in the United States and Europe for appointments with family physicians and nurse practitioners. That’s if they even have a family doctor.

This is the Liberal record. You and I know it. We’ve seen it unfolding for years.

Mais il vient un moment, dans le mandat de chaque première ministre ou premier ministre, qui marque les esprits des électeurs et électrices. Une série d’actions qui en dit long sur les priorités du gouvernement. 

Et j’estime c’est la vente de Hydro One qui représente, plus que toute autre décision, le moment charnière du mandat de l’actuelle première ministre. 

There comes a point in the tenure of every Premier that stands out in the minds of voters. A series of actions that speak volumes about the priorities of a government.

And I believe that, above all else, the sell-off of Hydro One is the defining moment for this Premier.

On October 29th, for the very first time, we saw the independent evidence that confirms what we’ve suspected for months.

In his first report to the Legislature, the independent Financial Accountability Officer (you remember…the one New Democrats were able to force the Liberals to hire) revealed that the sale of Hydro One will leave this province in worsefinancial shape. 

The Liberals had said that selling Hydro One would secure 4 billion dollars for infrastructure investment. They said it would help families with better public transit and less congestion on the roads. 

But now we have the evidence. And the privatization of Hydro One won’t help anyone trying to squeeze onto the King streetcar at 7 in the morning!

The sell-off of public hydro could raise less than half of what the Premier promised for infrastructure. Less than half, according to the FAO. $1.4 Billion instead of $4 Billion.

Now, there’s no question. Decades of neglect have left our highways in gridlock. Our bridges crumbling. And our buses, streetcars, and subways packed with riders who just want to get to work – and get home to their families. 

Our own Deputy Leader, Jagmeet Singh, can tell you what it’s like commuting from Bramalea-Gore-Malton to downtown Toronto. It’s hard for moms and dads who have to do it every day.

And as the MPP for one of the largest transportation hubs in North America, Jagmeet knows better than anyone that the failure to invest in infrastructure hurts our economic prosperity, too. In the GTA, congestion is costing over 6 billion dollars in losses every year. 

And every part of Ontario feels the need for better transportation infrastructure, be it transit, roads or bridges. 

Les travailleurs et travailleuses du Nord de l’Ontario et leurs familles méritent des routes bien entretenues pendant l’hiver. Il leur faut des routes dont l’entretien est assuré de façon fiable. Il leur faut des routes qu’ils puissent utiliser de façon sécuritaire même au beau milieu de janvier.

And cities like London are taking steps to build rapid transit networks, but they’re suffering from Liberal cuts to municipal transit.

But instead of tackling these challenges with smart solutions, the Premier has used the real needs of our communities to make a false argument for the sale of Hydro One. 

There were other options. Smarter choices. Better choices… that New Democrats have been calling for.

Like asking the largest and most profitable corporations to pay their fair share in corporate taxes. That would be a good start right there. 

Smarter choices, like putting a stop to new tax loopholes that give CEOs a full HST rebate on their luxury expenses and luxury box seats!

There are so many better ways to build the transit and transportation infrastructure that Ontario needs! We certainly don’t need to sell off Hydro One.

Il y a de meilleures manières de bâtir l’infrastructure pour le transport urbain et collectif ! Cette infrastructure, nous en avons grand besoin. Ce dont en revanche nous n’avons pas du tout besoin, c’est de vendre Hydro One. 

But the truth is, the Liberals’ privatization scheme has never reallybeen about infrastructure. It’s never been about making life easier for families.

From day one, the sale of Hydro One has been about catering to a small group of powerful Liberal friends and insiders. That’s what it’s all about!

Last Thursday, as the opening bell rang on Bay Street and Hydro One scrolled across the ticker tape for the very first time, the Premier wasn’t even here to answer the tough questions. 

She was on the other side of the world, on a trip to China! Quite literally, as far removed as she could be from the impact of her decisions on the people of this province. 

It was a defining moment for this Premier. 

And now, it’s more clear than ever. There are two distinct visions for the future of this province. 

There is one view – the Premier’s view – that is far removed from the challenges of middle-class and struggling families. 

And… there is our view. The view that you and I share. 

The people who joined us over the course of the federal campaign also know that there is a better vision of the future. 

Where we value public assets. Where we strengthen public education. Where we expand public health care! 

To grow this province, we need a government built on that positive view of the future. Built on the priorities of families. A government that shares the hopes of the people of Ontario.

In the Southwest, families need a Premier who shares their hope for a better future… and will work hard to protect the auto sector and create the next generation of good jobs! 

In the North, folks need a government they can trust to stand up for better access to health care! That means less waiting for a doctor’s appointment in Kenora and Rainy River. 

And that means a PET scanner, at long last, for Sudbury and the Northeast! 

Across rural Ontario, farm families deserve a government that stands with those families as the heart of thriving, sustainable Ontario agriculture in the 21st century! 

In the East, families need to see a party that actually stands up to protect the neighbourhood schools that our kids – and our communities – depend on. 

People in the GTA need a Premier who is committed to public transit… and knows how to get it done without selling off our public assets! 

First Nations and Métis peoples need a partner in government that is committed to meaningful reconciliation – and a true Nation to Nation relationship built on respect and on our Treaty obligations.

Families right here in Toronto, in this vibrant and dynamic city, rich with diversity and opportunity… families want a government that stands up for the kind of progressive changes, like inclusionary zoning, that increase access to affordable housing and allow this city to grow without closing its doors to the people who live here! 

And, our entire province needs a government that doesn’t just talk and consult about climate change – but actually takes real steps to reduce emissions and make polluters pay. 

We are that party. That’s what we’re fighting for.

It’s our job to bridge the regions. And to be the voice that offers hope for a better future, built on the great potential of this province. 

I’m thinking of the potential of every worker who deserves far better than a precarious, part-time job. 

Every worker who deserves a good job, with a pension and a union and a good paycheque that you can actually raise a family on! 

I’m thinking of the potential of every student who is counting on us, as New Democrats, to tackle the highest tuition fees in the country. 

The potential of every injured worker who should never have to fight for the benefits they deserve… and should never have been injured on the job in the first place.

The potential of this province is the potential of 220,000 new Canadians who have moved to this city alone, from every country in the world, in just five years. They believe in Ontario. And we’re not going to let them down.

And I’m thinking of the potential of every innovator, every artist, and every creative leader who devotes themselves to new ideas, new solutions, and new forms of expression… and who should not have to step out of Ontario to take the next step in their journeys.

New Democrats believe that a better future is possible, if we tackle these barriers. If we put the right priorities first. And if we do our job and elect a better government – an NDP government – in 2018! 

So, this weekend, together, let’s keep in mind what we’re fighting for. Let’s remember what we’re working to achieve – and what we will achieve, together.

Nous allons offrir aux gens de l’Ontario un gouvernement plus intelligent, plus solidaire, et plus responsable. Un gouvernement qui se retrousse les manches pour faciliter les vie des familles... pour contribuer à la croissance de l’Ontario... qui créé de bons emplois... un gouvernement pour faire finalement advenir le changement progressiste que nous attendons depuis si longtemps ! 

We will offer the people of Ontario a smarter, more caring, and more responsible government that gives families a fair break… that helps Ontario grow… that creates good jobs… and that delivers the progressive change we’ve been waiting for! 

That’s why we knock on doors.

That’s why we give so many hours of our time. 

And that’s why we’re here this weekend, to learn from each other and to redouble our efforts… so that we can make sure that we are able to deliver positive, progressive change for the people of Ontario when we form government in 2018!

Merci. Thank-you very much.