BY SHANNON DUFF
NORTH PERTH – It’s been just more than one year since Randy Pettapiece was elected Conservative MPP for the local riding of Perth-Wellington, defeating Liberal John Wilkinson in the last provincial election.
“I think it’s gone pretty well,” Pettapiece reflected with The Banner on Oct. 26. “Even though we’re in opposition, we have accomplished a few things.”
He explained the party has worked alongside government agencies such as Community Care Access Centres. In another instance, he worked with the Ministry of Transportation to continue commercial development in North Perth.
A lot of this work may fly under the public radar, but Pettapiece said he’s not doing the job for recognition.
“I prefer to do things quietly,” he said. “I’ve gotten along with any of the ministries we’ve worked with down in Toronto fairly well doing it that way.”
Pettapiece said he’s not afraid to stand up in the house and make his position known. He takes a great deal of satisfaction, he said, from his resolution that was passed back in September.
“Essentially it says before a government passes laws or regulations, that they look at the end result on how it can effect rural and urban Ontario,” he explained. “Which hasn’t been (always done,)” he said. “The Green Energy Act is one of them that has really affected rural Ontario. [The resolution] received all parties’ support. I was really surprised, and pleasantly surprised.”
“My whole issue was some of the other policies put in place put the wall up more between urban and rural Ontario,” Pettapiece continued. “If we’re going to going to try and get this province back cooking on all eight cylinders, we have to have everybody working together and not against each other and that was the basis for this resolution.”
One thing that struck Pettapiece during his first year in office was how government debates appear to the voters.
“You see us on TV bantering back and forth, you’ve probably watched it and how silly it can get,” he said. “After it’s all done a lot of the times we’ll get together with the opposition side and sit down and have a sensible conversation and work things out. That’s something I do appreciate. We’re all there for the same things, we just have different ways of doing it.”
Pettapiece has three grown sons and four grandchildren. He is originally from Essex County, and grew up on a farm northwest of Monkton. He and his wife, Jane, live on a farm outside of Newry and are moving into Listowel by Christmas.
He said what he’s enjoying most about his work is meeting people and helping people solve problems.
“I’ve always enjoyed that kind of thing,” said Pettapiece. “The satisfaction of helping people solve problems . . . I’m blessed with a really good office staff. That’s really helped, big time.”
One aspect of the job Pettapiece said he struggles with is the length of time it takes to complete a task at Queen’s Park.
“It can get rather tedious at times,” he said. “You know what the solution is, sometimes everybody knows what the solution is, but then politics sometimes get involved and things get held up that way. I guess I’m just use to, if something gets busted, you fix it.”
The MPP said he’s received positive reviews from his constituents about his job performance over the first.
“We’ve received a lot of compliments about our commitment to trying to find a resolution to a problem,” he said.
Pettapiece is the deputy agriculture critic and said he’s got to learn more about that end of his job. Forming the next provincial government is top priority, and his other objectives include encouraging more buy local action through programming, recovering lost industry and getting more Ontarians back to work.
“Energy costs have went up really big time over the last few years and the energy industry is having a really hard time coping with some of these costs,” he said. “The manufacturing sector is going to have to have a lot more confidence in this province . . . there’s still 600 and some thousand people out of work in Ontario.”
“The Green Energy Act has been a real pain for rural Ontario. Our position has always been that if a community wants to entertain green energy projects that’s fine, but [the government] took away municipal control and planning . . . we’re going to cancel the FIT program if we get it . . . that will pretty much shut it down. It isn’t cost effective. There’s no way anybody can prove it to be cost effective, because it isn’t.”
Since premier Dalton McGuinty resigned and prorogued legislature earlier this month, Pettapiece said he’s still hard at work in the riding, but no work is getting done at Queen’s Park – no committees are formed, any investigations are slowed and Ontario’s debt is increasing.
“Mr. McGuinty has shut the whole thing down,” he said. “I have been concentrating on the riding. I get no votes in Toronto, I get votes in the riding. That’s really the part that I enjoy, is running around the riding. It’s a big riding.”
Pettapiece stated there’s appropriate protocol that is required to take place anytime legislature is prorogued. That protocol didn’t take place in this instance.
“Anybody that prorogues government federally or provincially – the rules state you must establish an approximate date you’re going to bring the house back. They didn’t do that,” said Pettapiece. “I think it’s a total abuse of power.”
The Liberal leadership convention takes place toward the end of January. Depending on the outcome, legislature could be called back and a budget presented. The budget would then be voted on, and if defeated, there will be an election. Or, the Liberals could simply call an election.
“I think it’s time,” said Pettapiece. “This government’s out of gas.”