Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown’s speech to the FONOM Northeastern Municipal Conference wrapped up day one, and he spoke about forestry, mining, the provincial budget, and the Hydro One sell off. Brown says Ontario’s Liberal government has taken the North for granted, and they don’t understand the day-to-day concerns in Northern Ontario. He says the region’s economic potential is extraordinary, but the Liberals have never prioritized Northern Ontario. Brown talked about the challenges facing residents in Northern Ontario, and said as someone who grew up in North Bay, their problems would no longer no unheard if he’s elected Premier in 2018.
Brown says he’s visited Northern Ontario more than 20 times since he became leader of the PC party, and added when he looks at creating a vision for the North he will rely on the advice from Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli. He was asked about specific policies he would implement as leader, and he says he’s been quite clear about what the PCs stand for. Brown says unlike Premier Kathleen Wynne, who sets policies behind closed doors at Queen’s Park, he wants to engage the broader membership. He says he wants to make sure his party listens to all Ontarians, and that means going to every town in the province and understanding there are good ideas outside the bubble of Queen’s Park.
Brown also talked about the recent issue of the cuts to the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, which the Liberal government has disputed. He says the one area that is a priority, the one area that got cut is help for Northern Ontario. Brown reiterated what Fedeli has said over the past week, that not only is the Northern Development budget $70-million less than last year, but it is even less than what it was in 2014. Energy Minister, and Northern MPP Glenn Thibeault has said that’s not true, and Brown blasted him for what he called repeating the Premier’s talking points. Brown says he hopes that Thibeault would stand up for Northern Ontario, because as a Northern MPP he should be absolutely livid about both the MNDM cuts and the lack of mention of the Ring of Fire in the latest budget.
NDP leader Andrea Horwath addressed the FONOM conference this morning, and Premier Kathleen Wynne will be speaking this afternoon at 1:15pm at the Nipissing University Theatre.