This week the Ontario Legislature was truly a hotbed of activity with numerous high profile announcements and news releases. One of the most significant developments was the news that the Ontario Provincial Police have laid charges against the Premier’s former Deputy Chief of Staff and current CEO of the Liberal Party and Campaign Chair, Patricia Sorbara. Also charged was prominent Sudbury Liberal Party member Gerry Lougheed. The charges laid under the Elections Act are the result of allegations of bribery involving former Liberal candidate Andrew Olivier to stay out of the nomination process in the last Sudbury by-election in exchange for a job or appointment with Premier Wynne’s Liberal government. In addition to this, even more disturbing is the charge of allegedly bribing the Minister of Energy and Sudbury MPP, Glenn Thibeault, to run in that same by-election.
Never before in the history of this Province has something like this happened. The Premier needs to show Ontarians that she is taking this seriously; she needs to ask her Minister to step down from Cabinet until this mess is sorted out. It is interesting to note as well that during the last provincial election, the Premier promised Ontarians that she was different. She promised people that her Liberal party would not be riddled with scandal after scandal like her predecessor’s was. Yet again the people of Ontario are again disappointed.
The NDP is calling on the Premier to stop putting the interests of her party ahead of the needs of Ontarians and ask her Minister of Energy to step down until the very serious allegations against these three high profile individuals are settled.
On a very positive note, on Thursday in the legislature my Private Member’s Bill 34 – Children’s Law Reform Amendment Act: Relationship with Grandparents was debated and passed second reading in the Legislature. In Ontario, it is estimated that over 75,000 grandparents have been denied the ability to visit or see their grandchildren, with well over 112,000 grandchildren losing contact with their grandparents.
This bill is about grandchildren’s rights and ensuring they have consistent and reliable access to a nurturing and loving relationship with their grandparents. For many children, grandparents are a vital constant needed in their lives. Grandparents offer children wisdom, love and an especially invaluable and irreplaceable mentorship. They are an important tie that binds families together.
This legislation would ensure that courts consider the merits of individual cases and determine granting access, not by mere default but rather based on whether contact would be appropriate in the circumstances.
Ontario currently lags far behind many of its counterparts across the country where they have already recognized this issue within custody arrangement proceedings. The Yukon, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec and Nova Scotia have named this issue within legislation. I trust you agree that it’s time for Ontario to catch up.
In closing I want to remind everyone that this coming Friday Canadians will be observing Remembrance Day. We wear poppies to commemorate the sacrifices of Canadian service people in every conflict and every peace-keeping mission since Armistice Day after WWI. We wear our poppies with great pride and we stand together, united in silence, to mark the contribution of so many past and present. We honour their service and their sacrifice and we will never forget the extraordinary courage of these brave men and women, many of who made the ultimate sacrifice so that we could enjoy a better world.
I know many of us will be attending ceremonies at Legion Halls, Cenotaphs and schools across the province. I encourage you to pause on November 11th at the 11th hour wherever you are, to honour our fallen service people. Let us remember the times of conflict when our country has prevailed. Let us remember the times of peace that we have enjoyed. Let us most of all remember the people who have made this all possible. We will remember them.
As always, please feel free to contact my office about these issues, or any other provincial matters. You can reach my constituency office by email at [email protected] or by phone at 705-461-9710 or Toll-free 1-800-831-1899.