Ontario government needs to follow through on its promises

The Ontario Throne speech presented last week has me thinking a lot, but my worry is that not as much thought went into it. I put on my cynic’s cap and found a few choice excerpts:

“We carved our province out of a harsh northern land.” And then “we” promptly moved south and forgot about the North.

“They began to mine the land, and harvest the forests.” And then “they” shipped all of our natural resources out of province or country for processing and sale, losing jobs and profits in Ontario.

“Our people built farms and schools and towns and cities.” And many of those schools first built are still in use with their lead pipes for drinking water and asbestos insulating materials. Also, towns and cities are now covering that precious farming land instead of protecting our ability to produce for ourselves. After all, we can truck it in from California cheaper, right? (Grrrrr.)

“The world needs . . . our schools — to educate the best and brightest citizens of the world who will go on to solve the problems of our world.” Indeed, let’s keep educating doctors on our dime only to have them go on and solve the plastic surgery and obesity needs of the United States (those are big problems).

“It needs our innovators — who have invented tools such as the Blackberry that keep our world connected.” Hats off to RIM for getting this marketing plug right in the throne speech. I doubt RIM even had to pay for it, as it is probably Ontario’s most recognized success story now that Nortel is in the crapper.

“In the next 20 years, worldwide demand for water is expected to be 40 per cent greater than current supply. . . (your government) will strengthen protections for our water — including the Great Lakes.” Yes, the world needs our water; it will likely be the focus of future wars if it isn’t drained quietly before then (literally or through tricky agreement wording). Anyone have a drain plug handy?

“Your government will also support growth and expansion in our agrifood sector . . . to create new opportunities to buy local food, . . . because the world needs the good things that grow in Ontario.” But, where will I build my cookie-cutter row house close to Toronto if you actually plan to farm again? Can’t you farm on the tundra in the North?

“Your government will ensure the North benefits from its Open Ontario Plan.” Well, at least we weren’t swept under the rug as we were in the federal budget. FedNor who?

“In 2008, Northern Ontario became home to our first diamond mine. Your government will build on that success — particularly in the region known as the Ring of Fire.” OK Ontario, time to ensure that Xstrata doesn’t repeat itself here. If it is found in Ontario, process it in Ontario, and ensure the profits predominantly stay in Ontario. Ore and mineral extraction are not like farming heads of lettuce that will grow back with reseeding.

“Your government is fully committed to working with northerners, aboriginal communities and mining partners to fully realize the Ring of Fire’s potential.” No kidding. Considering most of the Ring of Fire is on First Nations’ land, I suppose you will have to work with them . . . why should you get a penny of the “potential” is my only question? Has anyone seenAvatar?

“On this International Women’s Day, your government particularly recognizes dedicated women like Sandy — together with all the volunteers who are making a real difference.” Yes, thank you Sandy for being willing to accept less than equal pay for equal work for so long, and God bless the volunteers who don’t take a dime.

“That’s why, starting this fall, full-day learning for four-and five-year-olds will begin at schools across our province.” Awesome, now both parents have no excuse but to get back in the labour force to make this province grow. There really aren’t that many benefits parents can give by spending time with their kids, best they work and buy their kids stuff.

“So your government’s Open Ontario Plan will raise Ontario’s postsecondary rate to 70 per cent. . . . increasing spaces in colleges and universities for 20,000 students this year . . . Your government will create the new Ontario Online Institute.”

How about incenting the southern Ontario overflow to go to Northern Ontario colleges and universities that are already equipped to handle them? Perhaps we can kill two birds with one stone — and relocate some of that population so that they don’t have to continue to sprawl onto fertile farm land.

I’ll get off my soap box now.

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