Ted Arnott, MPP
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 29, 2013
Opposition cannot compromise on principles, says MPP Arnott
(Queen’s Park) – With the provincial budget set to be presented on May 2, speculation continues over
whether or not Ontario will soon find itself in a spring election campaign.
Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak has said that it is unlikely that the PC Caucus will support the Wynne
Government’s budget, unless the Government undertakes a dramatic change of course and abandons its
tax and spend agenda which has led to a near doubling of the Ontario debt over the past 10 years.
In a speech in the Ontario Legislature on April 25, Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott responded to
criticism from the Liberals that the PC Caucus should consider voting for the budget.
“You can’t expect an opposition party to compromise its principles just because the Government lacks a
majority and would like to hang on to power a little longer,” said Mr. Arnott.
Ultimately, Mr. Arnott argued, it comes down to a matter of principle: a responsible opposition party
simply cannot vote for a budget it fundamentally does not support.
“When in Ontario’s history has any leader of the official opposition voted in favour of a Government’s
budget motion?” Mr. Arnott asked. “I certainly can’t recall it happening here in the last 22 years.”
“I don’t recall Bob Nixon, Murray Elston, Jim Bradley, Lyn McLeod, or Dalton McGuinty, the Liberal
opposition leaders with whom I’ve served, ever voting for a Government’s budget,” Mr. Arnott added.
Mr. Arnott concluded by noting that should the province soon find itself in an election campaign, the PC
Caucus is ready to lead Ontario again, should they receive the requisite support of Ontario voters.
“The Ontario PC caucus stands ready and prepared to assume the responsibility of government again; to
restore this province to its rightful place as a leader in Confederation; to strengthen our economy so that
our province becomes a magnet for investment and the creation of the new jobs that we need; to ensure
that quality health care is accessible for those who need it; that our schools are centres of learning,
idealism and inspiration; that taxpayers’ money is managed prudently, not flagrantly wasted; and that
government is truthful and forthcoming, not sneaky and evasive,” Mr. Arnott concluded.
(Attached: The Hansard record of Mr. Arnott’s speech in the Ontario Legislature, April 25, 2013)
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Ontario Hansard – 25-April 2013
Mr. Ted Arnott: Even after being here in this assembly for more than 22 years, I still consider it an
immense privilege to rise in this House and offer my remarks in response to the provincial government’s
All of us in this House have been entrusted by our constituents to represent them in this place, to give
voice to their values and beliefs and to bring forward their hopes and aspirations as well as worries and
concern. In opposition, it is our role to point out the flaws and drawbacks of the government’s proposals,
because you can be sure of one thing: The government will not talk about the downside of what it’s doing,
nor will they speak for the people whose interests are being negatively affected.
I want to talk about co-op housing and Bill 14, but I need to place this debate in context. It’s clear to me
that some on the government side don’t understand the role of the opposition in our parliamentary
democracy. The Liberal government plans to introduce its budget on May 2, we are told. In recent years,
provincial budgets have been presented in this House in late March, roughly coinciding with the end of
the fiscal year and the beginning of new one on the 1st of April. This year’s budget is more than a month
late when compared to recent years. Given the fact that the government leaked to the media that their
budget would be sometime in April, they’re coming in late according to their own timetable.
Our leader, Tim Hudak, has said that it’s unlikely that he will support the budget unless the government
does a 180-degree reversal of its tax-and-spend approach, its policy of doubling the debt over a period of
10 years or so, and its excessive red tape and regulations. In response, the government criticizes us,
suggesting we’ve made up our minds before even reading the budget. They say we should consider voting
for their budget.
But I want to ask them this: When in Ontario’s history has any leader of the official opposition voted in
favour of a government’s budget motion? I certainly can’t recall it happening here in the last 22 years-
Mr. Ted Arnott: Perhaps the member from St. Catharines recalls it, but I’m not sure. He’d have to tell us.
I don’t recall Bob Nixon, Murray Elston, Jim Bradley, Lyn McLeod or Dalton McGuinty –
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): I hope the member is going to tie this all into the bill that’s
in front of us.
Mr. Ted Arnott: -the Liberal opposition leaders with whom I’ve served, ever voting for a government’s
Why is this? The answer is simple: Opposition parties oppose. They don’t normally prop up the
government. You can’t expect an opposition party to compromise its principles just because the
government lacks a majority and would like to hang onto power a little longer. We await the budget
speech on May 2 and debate on the budget motion that follows and the vote that will determine whether
or not the government survives or has to resign because it lacks the confidence of the House.
We are here today debating Bill 14. The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, in her remarks on
this bill, explained that co-op housing is something like 40 years old in Ontario. She said that there are
something like 550 non-profit housing co-ops providing affordable housing for 44,000 households. They
estimate that 125,000 Ontarians call a co-op unit their home. Think of the population of Guelph,
Cambridge or Barrie, and round it off a bit. That’s the number of people who live in co-op housing. The
minister described four characteristics that define co-op housing. They are, she said, affordability,
governance, security of tenure and community.
Bill 14 is a proposal to amend the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, and the Co-operative Corporations
Act to move most co-op tenure dispute cases from the court system to the Landlord and Tenant Board.
These disputes might include rent arrears, late payment of rent, wilful damage, illegal activity, or
interfering with other tenants’ enjoyment of their property. The cost of hearing and resolving these
disputes in the courts is currently estimated to be as much as $5,000 each. The hope of this bill is that the
Landlord and Tenant Board will be able to hear these disputes and resolve them more fairly, quickly and
at a lower cost for all concerned.
However, has the government really thought this through? Can the Landlord and Tenant Board handle
these additional cases? We hear that this important adjudicative body is already backlogged. Does this
mean that the settling of all landlord and tenant disputes will be further delayed? If the government says
not, are they planning on increasing the resources, both human and financial, for the Landlord and Tenant
Board? Where is the money coming from for that?
Here’s what our Ontario PC caucus is saying. We supported this bill when it was introduced last year.
However, the bill died on the order paper when the House was prorogued on October 15. If they hadn’t
shut down the House, in all likelihood, this bill would be law by now. As such, this delay has likely cost
co-op members hundreds of thousands of dollars in court costs, as the old rules have remained in place
during the interval. This is where the Liberal government has put its own interests ahead of the interests of
tenants in co-op housing.
We’re concerned that this bill contains an unnecessary amendment that may open the floodgates to
nuisance applications to the Landlord and Tenant Board, swamping a system that’s already backlogged,
further hampering the board’s ability to hear cases in a timely manner. So, we ask, is this bill going to
solve one problem and, in the process, make another problem worse? That is the key question here, and
it’s the one that the government hasn’t answered, but must.
Our Ontario PC critic for the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the member for Leeds-
Grenville, does a super job in this House, and he is a superb representative of his constituents. He gave
our party’s leadoff speech in response to this bill on March 4. That day being a Monday, I was in the chair
all afternoon, and I recall his speech as being outstanding. The member for Leeds-Grenville spoke for an
hour, giving a comprehensive and thoughtful critique of the government’s housing policies. He pulled no
punches, but he was also constructive, as a good critic should always be.
He noted that a bill such as Bill 14 has been talked about since 2007. It’s something the government has
promised for the past six years. The Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada, the group asking for this
legislation, has been patient, but it’s a good thing that nobody’s been holding their breath. They had been
co-operative in every sense of the word, and hopefully this time, the co-operative approach will pay off.
The member for Leeds-Grenville rightly pointed out that, had the government not prorogued the House,
this bill most likely would be law by now, and that by proroguing the House as they did on October 15,
dimming the lights in this Legislature and in the process dimming democracy in Ontario, 100 bills died on
the order paper at their various stages and, if they were to be revived, would have to be reintroduced and
started again from scratch. He questioned whether or not the government is sincere when it says it wants
to work with the opposition, and he provided examples which seemed to confirm that the government’s
seeming efforts to reach out are, in fact, really a smokescreen hiding their true cynical intent.
He pointed out that Bill 14’s provision to empower the Landlord and Tenant Board to waive the $45 filing
fee for certain tenants has the potential to create huge problems. He cited a report prepared by the
Federation of Rental-housing Providers in Ontario which demonstrated how frivolous complaints will
plug up the system and are extremely and unnecessarily costly for landlords. Ultimately, this hurts tenants
as well, because the rent they pay is their landlord’s revenue and, one way or another, in due course, the
landlord’s expenses will eventually be reflected in the rent that tenants pay.
He spoke about the meagre briefing he received on the bill, which is unfortunate, and again makes us
question the government’s rhetoric about wanting to co-operate with the opposition. He spoke about the
landlords and the tenants he’s met in his attempts to reach out around the province and, implicitly, the
need for the government to find a fair balance between their needs and their interests.
He concluded his hour-long speech with a suggestion that he might ask for unanimous consent to speak
for an additional half-hour. While he’d given a fine speech, I have to admit I was glad the House didn’t
grant him those additional 30 minutes. We look forward to hearing his comments at third reading,
assuming the bill makes it out of committee before the writ is dropped.
On the subject of affordable housing, I should remind the House of the outstanding leadership shown by
the county of Wellington. Almost three years ago, in June 2010, I was pleased to attend the official grand
opening of Fergusson Place, on Gordon Street in Fergus. Fergusson Place is a 55-unit building on the
north edge of town. It was built with a $5.7-million contribution in municipal capital funding, a smaller,
but still significant, contribution of $3.8 million from the Canada-Ontario Affordable Housing Program
and, obviously, a significant contribution from the province of Ontario, which we appreciate. I’m pleased
to report that Fergusson Place has become a great success, and the families who call it home have
benefited from the county of Wellington’s initiative and leadership, and the partnership with the other
orders of government. I know that the county of Wellington is very interested in pursuing new affordable
housing projects, should the opportunity arise, in partnership and with the financial support of the national
and provincial governments.
Likewise, the region of Halton has shown outstanding leadership when it comes to the issue of affordable
housing. This week, I spoke with regional chair Gary Carr, and we discussed this. Regional council
recently adopted a resolution on the report they had received from the Halton housing advisory
committee. The committee has done a great deal of research on the issue and identified a number of
recommendations to address the affordable and assisted housing needs in Halton.
Mr. Speaker, I see my time is up, so I’ll yield the floor. I look forward to the questions and comments of
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Questions and comments?
Mr. Rosario Marchese: I want to say that we respect the comments made by the member from
Wellington-Halton Hills. We respect the fact that there’s some disagreement with certain aspects of the
bill, and the best way to respect him and his caucus and to respect the housing co-operative people who
want to get this dealt with is to send it to committee right away.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Questions and comments?
Ms. Helena Jaczek: I’m pleased always to hear the member from Wellington-Halton Hills. I concur with
my colleague from the NDP. We’ve had some 12 hours of debate; it’s time Bill 14 was sent to committee.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Questions and comments?
Mr. John O’Toole: My colleague from Wellington-Halton Hills, I believe, summarized very succinctly
the dilemma that we find ourselves in today, as well as the litany of reasons why this bill isn’t already in a
committee or dealing with the regulations and implementation. I say that because he has served here for
20-plus years, and he has heard this issue and how important it is, I’m sure, in his riding of Wellington-
Halton Hills. He has listened to people who find the dispute resolution mechanisms that are in place today
These changes are needed, and I think the government, as he said before, has the tools to move this to the
committee stage. That’s what the public and viewers today, and those listening from the Co-operative
Housing Federation of Canada, who have diligently shepherded this bill-with the minister here as well
today; she knows very well that she does have the tools, although they’re rather sharp-edged tools, to
relinquish the right to speak.
When you say the word “parliamentarian,” it’s a French word which means “to speak”-“parler”; “parler
français.” What we’re doing is representing issues beyond just the content of Bill 14. We’re actually
representing the right to speak, the right to hear and the right to listen to responses from the minister,
whether it’s finance or whether it’s energy or whether it’s health care, and get a reasonable response or at
least information about why they can’t make the decision we would prefer. It’s not to leave the impression
that we’re just being obstructionist. You could make the argument that they are being just as obstructionist
in the fact of not using the appropriate tools-House leaders working co-operatively to move stuff through
the legislative process in a minority government.
I support the-
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Thank you. Questions and comments?
Miss Monique Taylor: I’m happy once again to welcome Harvey Cooper and his crew here back to
Queen’s Park again. Harvey, we love you, but we really don’t want to see you here any longer. That means
that we’re really hoping that we can push this on to committee, making sure that we’re getting this bill
enacted to help out the people of this province in getting the co-op work completed.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): The member for Wellington-Halton Hills, you’ve got two
Mr. Ted Arnott: I want to thank the members for their comments and questions and observations, and I
was certainly glad to have the opportunity to speak to this bill this afternoon.
I was referring to the affordable housing needs in the region of Halton, and I wanted to tell the House that
after I got this letter from the regional chair, in response, I wrote the Minister of Finance on Tuesday,
copying the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. I wrote that the region of Halton would like to
move ahead, but they need the co-operation and support of the provincial government.
We await the provincial budget. We look forward to learning of the government’s commitment to housing,
if there is one. We look forward to the debate on the budget and the vote that will follow. While no one
knows what the outcome will be, we know this: The Ontario PC caucus stands ready and prepared to
assume the responsibility of government again; to restore this province to its rightful place as a leader in
Confederation; to strengthen our economy so that our province becomes a magnet for investment and the
creation of the new jobs that we need; to ensure that quality health care is accessible for those who need
it; that our schools are centres of learning, idealism and inspiration; that taxpayers’ money is managed
prudently, not flagrantly wasted; and that government is truthful and forthcoming, not sneaky and evasive.
This is the promise of the future with the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, and
we look forward to putting our plans to the people for their consideration.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?
Mrs. Jane McKenna: I’d like to thank the member from Wellington-Halton Hills for your clarity for
Harvey Cooper. I would also like to say that you are a mentor and an inspiration when you speak, so
thank you so much.