Tim Hudak, leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative party
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The leader of Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party says the Liberal government’s decision to pause the conversion of the Thunder Bay Power Generating Station from coal to natural gas is a “boneheaded” move.
Tim Hudak on Thursday said he met with Mayor Keith Hobbs and understands why convincing the province to reconsider the decision is Hobbs’ No. 1 priority.
“If we want to actually create jobs in the province, and we’re looking at the potential of nine new mines coming on stream in the area, we’re going to need affordable power,” Hudak said.
“Here’s what I’m worried about. I’m worried that the cancellation of the gas plants down in Mississauga and in Oakville, the billion dollars that it’s going to cost, I’m worried Thunder Bay is paying the price for this cancellation.”
Hudak, whose short speech on the cutting room floor at C&M Tile emphasized restoring the province’s manufacturing base if he’s elected premier, said an energy solution for Northern Ontario is badly needed.
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“Let’s be clear about this,” the 45-year-old Hudak said. “Mining, forestry, manufacturing, they’ve always been strengths in this province. They’ve helped us build this great province of Ontario. But we have to have formal energy to move forward. And I’m really concerned that I’ve seen places pack up and go to Quebec and into the States.”
The energy program is too expensive, he added, with subsidies for wind and solar power projects upping the cost of traditional electricity sources.
Hudak, who said he presented an economic plan to incoming premier Kathleen Wynne, plans to take a wait-and-see approach on forcing an election. If she listens and is willing to incorporate Conservative suggestions, he said he’s willing to work with the Liberals to make government work. But if she takes a different approach, it’ll be up to the voters to decide.
He said he fears Northwestern Ontario could be on the outside looking if the Liberals remain in power, despite being represented by a pair of MPPs at Queen’s Park.
He pledged to create more jobs and balance the province’s books, which Hudak deemed the two most important issues to Northern Ontario voters.
“You see in the other two parties, quite frankly, this mentality that seems to say that the downtown Toronto environmental groups call the shots when it comes to economic policy. I think that’s wrong. I want to see a Northwestern Ontario that’s creating jobs empowering our province, not slipping.”
The Conservative leader also touched on gridlock at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, a problem that has plagued the facility since its earliest days.
Hudak said the health care system is too top heavy, and promised to alleviate the problem, using the savings to provide the care patients need.
“We’re throwing way too many dollars into administration. Nobody seems to make decisions. We laid out a plan in Paths to Prosperity that’s going to take the administration and put it into front-line services, and actually reward the hospitals, doctors and nurses that are doing a good job out there.”