BY ANDREW SMITH
The Listowel Banner
MITCHELL – A new year means new challenges for Perth-Wellington MPP Randy Pettapiece, who promises to continue providing a voice for rural Ontario in Toronto.
Progressive Conservative MPP Pettapiece met with constituents at a New Year social event at the Mitchell Golf and Country Club on Jan. 13, taking time to meet with voters, some for the first time.
“They voted for me in the last election but they never met me,” Pettapiece said. “It gives them a chance to see who the guy is and talk to me.”
Pettapiece said he is continuing to work on projects surrounding issues in the Ministry of Transportation and Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, but said there’s been some uncertainty since Premier Dalton McGuinty’s decision to prorogue the Ontario legislature in October.
“The way things are going in Toronto since we were locked out last year, we don’t know whether there’s going to be an election,” Pettapiece said. “After the leadership race is over, maybe we’ll find out.”
Pettapiece is quite honest about his feelings when he says he’s not keeping track of the Liberal leadership race in Ontario, and that McGuinty’s successor won’t make a difference in the party.
“To me, it’s just the same bunch, they all were brought up with Dalton McGuinty so they’re all the same,” he said. “It matters not to me who the leader is after this is over with.”
The Ontario Liberals drew criticism from Pettapiece for their inability to solve any problem without putting the province further in debt. Pettapiece pointed to McGuinty’s comments following the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, when he pledged to spend $10 million to institute a locked-door policy at 4,000 schools across Ontario.
“They just never seem to be able to solve a problem unless they threw money at it,” Pettapiece said. “We need to back away from all this spending and get control of our finances before we start throwing money away again.”
Pettapiece also came down on McGuinty for his handling of Bill 115 and the dispute with the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario. While the PCs were pushing for a two-year wage freeze across the entire public sector, Pettapiece said McGuinty brought the current situation upon himself when he singled out the teachers’ union.
“Mr. McGuinty chose to pick a fight with somebody, and he chose the teachers’ union,” he said. “I totally disagree with the way it was done.”
Pettapiece said he will continue to work with PC agriculture critic Ernie Hardeman in raising issues of the farming community in Perth-Wellington, speaking for farmers in Queen’s Park.
“I think we still have too much of a divide between urban and rural Ontario,” Pettapiece said. “That’s something I want to work on.”