CORNWALL, Ontario – Premier Kathleen Wynne went to lengths Thursday to suggest there is more to Ontario than the GTA.
In an interview following her prepared remarks at a reception for the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s annual general meeting in Cornwall, Wynne disagreed with assertions from some that the eastern part of the province ends at Kingston.
“It’s just not how I see the province,” she told Seaway News. “I’ve been to Cornwall many times and I will be in Cornwall many times again.”
The premier suggested her government’s 2015 budget includes provisions for all parts of the province, not just the GTA.
“We’re talking about the roads and bridges in rural small towns – eastern, northern, southwestern Ontario – not just the Greater Toronto-Hamilton area,” she said. “(It’s) the reason I emphasize that we are dividing the money for transportation infrastructure spending per capita inside the GTA and outside the GTA (and) I want that message to get to people.”
While it was quiet inside Table 21 on Pitt Street in Cornwall where a reception took place, outside protesters with the Ontario Public Service Employees Union were demanding action from the premier on labour discussions.
Wynne made reference to their arguments, and conceded both sides are in a tough spot.
OPSEU has indicated that at the same time that the Wynne Liberals are slashing funding for much-needed public services, they are wasting billions on private sector contracts and spending billions more on corporate tax cuts.
“I apologize for my friends outside,” said Wynne, to a smattering of chuckles. “And because we are in a tough fiscal moment and…we’ve said we have to have net zero at the table. There’s no new money for compensation. That’s why it’s tough bargaining – I totally get that.”
For more on the protest click here.
Wynne went on to tell dozens of chamber of commerce delegates in a jammed restaurant-turned meeting room that business has the ear of her office.
“I want to hear your ideas on what government can do to create jobs and drive growth,” she said. “We know (politicians) don’t actually create jobs, you do that.
“So I have a vested interest in your success.”
The news was welcomed by Cornwall and Area Chamber of Commerce president Denis Carr.
“We’re a city that’s on the move and we know you can depend on you to help us in whichever we ask,” he told Wynne.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce AGM continues all weekend at the Nav Centre.