- Created on Thursday, 24 October 2013 17:22
- Hits: 747
By JESSE ROBITAILLE
Finding out firsthand how well Ontario’s post-secondary training links youth with jobs brought New Democratic Party (NDP) Leader Andrea Horwath to campus in her own ongoing yearlong education.
Horwath, one of Ontario’s opposition party leaders, toured Niagara College last month, learning about programming and talking about education’s role in the province’s future and especially the Niagara region — one guaranteeing a huge debt burden, a shrinking job market, fewer horse tracks and no snap election.
“I’m finding there are a lot of challenges that we have in Ontario in terms of making sure that, first of all, there’s opportunity for young people in the real world,” said Horwath on Oct. 18, “and that we’re matching up our training and the work we’re doing in post-secondary to prepare them for real opportunities in the work world.”
On what was her first visit to the Niagara-on-the-Lake campus, Horwath saw the greenhouse, the culinary labs, the Niagara College Teaching Brewery and the Canadian Food and Wine Institute Research Centre, where she helped with a sensory evaluation.
She also met with the college’s Culinary Olympic team, which is vying to represent Canada in the 2016 Culinary Olympics. These food games are held every four years in Erfurt, Germany and host the best chefs from around the world as they contend for recognition of their culinary skills.
Horwath said she’s been visiting Ontario campuses over the past year to get a sense of various programs and how those mesh with local communities.
“I mean, obviously this is a great example of the benefits of the Niagara region and how they’re integrated into the programming that happens here,” said Horwath. “I find all the colleges have some of that going on, so for me this was quite, quite unique and really, really wonderful.”
While industries like those centred on wine or craft beer are growing, others, like horse racing, are dying. The provincial Horse Racing Transportation Panel deemed the Fort Erie Race Track “unsustainable” and in its “going forward” plan recommended against further investment.
The three-person panel has been accused by the Progressive Conservatives as being wasteful after a freedom of information request showed the Liberals paid more than $500,000 for panelists’ mileage, hotel rooms and time, whether attending meetings or taking conference calls; however, the panel says it has been earning its paycheque when it announced its five-year, $345-million plan to subsidize eight of Ontario’s racetracks.
Fort Erie was not on that list, sounding what PC Leader Tim Hudak, who is from the border town, called “the death knell for the Fort Erie Race Track.”
Horwath said she is “quite concerned about the impact for Fort Erie particularly,” and charging the Liberal government has done “a great amount of damage” to the province’s horse racing industry and rural Ontario.
Horwath, however, has resisted Hudak’s calls for a snap election. The most recent came after an auditor general’s report found the Liberal government agreed to pay the full financial value of the gas plant contract when it could have gotten out of the deal at a much lower cost or potentially no cost at all. Under former premier Dalton McGuinty, the Liberals are being accused of cancelling the gas plants in Mississauga and Oakville for purely political reasons, using $1 billion from the public purse and then lying about it in the Legislature and attempting to cover it up.
Horwath said the NDP is instead focusing on the budget and making what she refers to as “promises” become reality.
“The opportunity for a non-confidence motion to take place right now — any time this fall — is not likely,” said Horwath. “The opportunity for us ganging up somehow and forcing a non-confidence motion can’t happen.”
“I know that Mr. Hudak’s Conservatives seem to want to tell the public that that’s not the case, but that’s really disingenuous. In fact, the only way a motion can come to the floor of the legislature for a debate is if the premier or the government allows it, and the government won’t allow it unless it’s on their terms.”
That’s not to say the NDP won’t be putting the pressure on the Liberal government, however.
“We’re always putting the pressure on — there’s no doubt about it — we’re always putting the pressure on.”
Horwath visited the Niagara region four times late last month, including two visits to the Niagara Falls riding, where there is a seat vacant after Kim Craitor resigned as Liberal MPP in September.