MPP Sam Oosterhoff, far left, meets constituents last Saturday in Fonthill. NATE SMELLE PHOTO
Freshman legislator says carbon tax better than cap-and-trade
BY NATE SMELLE
Progressive Conservative MPP for Niagara West-Glanbrook, Sam Oosterhoff dropped by the Fonthill Legion over the weekend to meet with a small group of 15 supporters. His stopover at the Legion was one of three on his tour of the riding during the annual New Year levee on Saturday, Jan. 7. Oosterhoff also visited the Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery in Beamsville and the Community Centre in Mount Hope.
Since taking over Tim Hudak’s seat at Queen’s Park last November, the first-year Brock University student said that he has had a lot to learn.
“The first few months in any job there is always a big learning curve, but caucus has really got behind me,” said Oosterhoff.
“The local guys have been great too. The NDP MP Wayne Gates and Jim Bradley have both approached me to offer their help if there was anything I needed.”
Although he hasn’t spent much time at Queen’s Park because of the holiday break, Oosterhoff says that he is already frustrated with Premier Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals for doing nothing to bring down the rising cost of hydro. He said he was glad to see Premier Wynne admit that her government made a mistake by allowing hydro rates to skyrocket, but he does not understand why the Liberal are continuing to make the same errors.
“If you make a mistake you don’t just keep doing the same thing,” he said.
“The Liberals are really stubborn. Premier Wynne has an ideological agenda and we’re seeing that now with cap-and-trade, which isn’t even effective. Even the Auditor General is saying it will only account for 20 percent of the emissions reductions that they want.”
When it comes to reducing carbon emissions and fighting climate change, Oosterhoff would rather see a revenue-neutral carbon tax like the one in British Columbia.
“We see this in B.C. and we see that it’s working,” Oosterhoff said.
“They are reducing carbon emissions and they’re putting the money back into the hands of the people who need it. It’s actually doing their job.”
High hydro rates are driving up the cost of living and pushing businesses out of Ontario, Oosterhoff asserted. Speaking with the owners of Stanpac in Smithville, he said they explained to him how they could purchase the equivalent of $1 million in Ontario hydro for only $400,000 in the U.S. Oosterhoff says that the only reason businesses like Stanpac are staying here is that they care about the people they employ. From a business standpoint, he said, companies such as these might as well just move to the US.
“We are seeing [Wynne’s] disregard for common sense, practical ideas from people at the same level who are saying that we need to get the cost of living under control,” said Oosterhoff.
“We need to see a change of government. That’s the only way we are going to actually see a start to the addressing of these core issues, whether that’s for the preferential contracts for building these wind turbines, or selling off of Hydro One. She won’t commit to stopping the sale of Hydro One — it’s a fire sale.”
With a Liberal majority government in power, Oosterhoff acknowledges his hands are tied and there is only so much he can accomplish.