By Don Crosby for The Standard
There is a 50 per cent chance that Markdale could get its new hospital this year, said Bruce Grey Owen Sound MPP Bill Murdoch during his predictions for 2009.
He asked the Minister of Health and Long Term Care for an update in the legislature just before Christmas and was told then the hospital was still on the governments list of priorities but no more than that.
“It may not happen this year, there is a 50-50 chance because of the economic downturn but it would be good to stimulate the economy by doing that,” said Murdoch during an interview on the weekend. “It isn’t a project that has gone by the wayside so that’s good. If they had said it was no longer on the radar then we’d be in trouble, but they haven’t done that, so that’s good.”
Murdoch said he’s pushing the government to continue reconstruction of Highway 26 between Meaford and Woodford and Meaford and Thornbury as well as Highway 6 north to Tobermory. He expects the stretch between Meaford and Thornbury will be done first. “It’s in worse shape no doubt about it. The congestion is worse there,” he said. Again he’s not sure if work on that stretch will take place this year because of the economy. It will all demand on the Liberal government’s priorities. He expects those priorities will become clearer with a new throne speech and budget later this year which he predicts will contain plenty of financial stimulation and infrastructure spending.
He predicts premier Dalton McGuinty will prorogue the legislature soon after the federal Conservatives introduce their new budget and throne speech later this month. Once that happens, the McGuinty government will indicate its direction. “They won’t do anything until they see what the feds do on the 26 of January, and then it will be a chain reaction,” said Murdoch, adding, “because of the economy the government is going to have to put its money for where it can get the biggest bang for its buck.”
Murdoch said before the provincial motion was prepared to prorogue the legislature. It just requires the signature of the Lieutenant Governor. “They have a motion ready and some bills will continue on such as my bill, the one for people with disabilities. They said they wouldn’t kill it,” Murdoch said.
Murdoch laments the lack of a strong opposition in the legislature during the coming year. With the retirement of the leader of the New Democrats and the Progressive Conservatives leader John Tory still without a seat in the legislature, it makes for a weak opposition. “The Liberals are just sort of floating along. They’re not doing anything because they don’t need to. The Progressive Conservative Party has to get its act together,” said Murdoch who hopes Tory will announce he’s resigning from the leadership and let a leadership campaign begin. Murdoch says he has no regrets over his call to have John Tory step down last fall as head of the conservative party and he hasn’t changed his view about what Tory should do if he can’t get a seat in the Legislature. For the good of the party and the sake of the opposition he says Tory should step down. So far the conservative leader hasn’t been able to find a sitting member to retire and allow Tory to run in that riding. He worries that Tory will decide to wait until the provincial election in the fall of 2010 and run again. “I think that would be disastrous for the party and for Ontario because the Liberals are going to sleep at the switch. They have no direction. They need a direction or plan,” he said. Tory has promised to make an announcement about his future on January 9.