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UPDATE: Questions and opportunities with Ontario’s new premier Kathleen Wynne

Where might Kathleen Wynne (soon to be sworn in a Ontario’s new premier) stand on various Council of Canadians campaign issues? While that is a question we can’t fully answer at this point, here are some snippets of information that may help:

Stopping Harper

1- During her leadership campaign, the Globe and Mail reported that Wynne said “she wants to forge a united front with her provincial colleagues to extract a fairer deal from Ottawa. …If the provinces were to become one big squeaky wheel, it would be much more difficult for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to ignore any pleas for reform, she said.” The Council of Canadians has been calling on all premiers to use their power stop the destructive Harper agenda where they can.

Health care

2- That news article also noted, “Ms. Wynne said she is laying the groundwork for next summer’s annual meeting of provincial and territorial leaders (on July 24-26 in Niagara-on-the-Lake), which (now) will be hosted by (Wynne). If people have an opportunity to talk about equalization and other federal transfer programs in the run-up to the meeting, she said, there is a better chance premiers can reach a consensus.” The Council of Canadians is already organizing to have thousands on the street for that meeting, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=19003.

Canada-EU free trade

3- Today the Canadian Press reported, “Premier Pauline Marois says her Parti Quebecois government could throw up roadblocks to a free-trade agreement between Canada and the European Union if it’s deemed unsuitable for Quebec. Federal International Trade Minister Ed Fast said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last week that Ottawa wouldn’t sign a deal unless it had obtained the consent of the provinces.” While the former Ontario premier was not critical of CETA, might Wynne join with Marois (and perhaps the new NDP premier of British Columbia Adrian Dix this May) in blocking the deal? Toronto Star columnist Thomas Walkom has written that CETA could cost Ontario up to 31,000 jobs, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=16659.

Great Lakes

4- On the controversial issue of nuclear waste shipments on the Great Lakes, then Transport Minister Wynne admitted that the provincial government had a role in the approval of shipments, but seemingly deferred to federal responsibility on the issue. In response to a question from MPP Peter Tabuns, Wynne stated, “Obviously we have regulations and safety precautions in the province of Ontario. All of those rules will be followed, but I think the fundamental question about the transportation and the disposition of these materials has to do with federal government legislation.” More at http://canadians.org/blog/?p=4455.

Mining

5- During the campaign, the Kitchener Record reported, “A discussion of the Ring of Fire and the resource riches that lie therein spools a conversation all the way back to her master’s thesis on the grammar of English, based on research she conducted at the Constance Lake First Nation.” It’s not clear what Wynne’s position on this massive mining project may be, but it is notable that the Constance Lake First Nation declared a water emergency the same day the United Nations recognized the human right to water and sanitation in July 2010.

Grassy Narrows

6- In June 2012, Wynne attended a ‘Fish Fry’ on the lawn of Queen’s Park, an event intended to pressure the Ontario government to take responsibility for the mercury poisoning which has impacted the Grassy Narrows territory. As noted by campaigner Maryam Adrangi, Wynne (then the Aboriginal Affairs minister) attended the event, spoke with those present, and expressed some commitment to visit Grassy Narrows First Nation and to address the pollution of the English-Wabigoon River.

Fracking

7- During the leadership race, the Council of Canadians called on the candidates to endorse a ban on fracking in the province. While we did not hear back from Ms. Wynne on that issue, we do intend to raise it with her again now that she is the Ontario Liberal leader.

Experimental Lakes Area

8- The Council of Canadians has also called on Ontario and Manitoba to maintain public funding and ownership of the Experimental Lakes Area, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=18602. Time is pressing on this campaign as the ELA will either be sold or closed by March, according to the Harper government. Might Wynne be a greater advocate for the ELA than the previous Ontario premier?

While there is still research that needs to be done (including how Wynne will respond to a WTO ruling against the Ontario Green Energy Act, her position on the expansion of the Darlington nuclear power plant, how/ if she can repair the damage of Bill 115, her views on the tar sands and west-to-east pipelines given Dalton McGuinty’s assertion that they have caused job loss in Ontario’s manufacturing sector) and there is not necessarily reason to be hopeful, the new Ontario Premier may provide some new opportunities to advance our campaigns.

More to come.