For immediate release:
Feb 13, 2008

Speaking notes for John Tory, Leader of the PC Party

End Lawlessness News Conference

Check against delivery

I’m here today with MPP Toby Barrett to talk about the breakdown in the rule of law in Ontario.

The economy is getting a lot of attention these days and for good reason. But a growing trend of unchecked lawlessness around Ontario seems to be slipping under the radar. Stopping it is definitely not on Dalton McGuinty’s priority list.

So we’re here today to start a campaign to draw attention to what Mr. McGuinty is allowing to happen and to bring about an end to this kind of lawlessness in Ontario.

When the House returns later this month (whether it’s in the morning or afternoon) our Party will once again stand up for the rule of law. Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals are letting respect for the law, the backbone of our entire system, crumble and we just can’t stand by and let it happen.

We live in Ontario, not the O.K. Corral. It’s time the actions of Ontario’s Premier and his government reflect that.

To date, the PC Party has been the only Party in Ontario standing up for the rule of law.

The reason we’re here today is because two weeks from now is an important but very sad anniversary – two years of an illegal occupation in Caledonia. That’s 730 days where people have been subjected to extortion, barricades, occupations, destruction of private and public property and a whole host of other unlawful activity.

Dalton McGuinty’s response to this has been to look the other way. That’s a disgrace, it’s an abdication of leadership and our Party won’t stand for it because the people of Ontario don’t accept it, nor should they.

The lawlessness we’ve seen in Caledonia is not the only example but it’s the worst one of a growing trend of disrespect for the law. Here are some of the other examples:

    • Developers on the Grand River have been hit with “development fees” which are essentially extortion. No one does anything about it while these law abiding businesspeople are harassed and ripped off;
    • The illegal cigarette industry is booming. Other than the media, no one says a word while the law is broken and taxpayers are ripped off for billions, probably by organized crime;
    • Other occupations and blockades crop up regularly as people decide we should resolve disputes just the way it’s being done in Caledonia;
    • There was a mixed martial arts championship card on Six Nations territory last weekend, despite the fact it is illegal in Ontario;
    • Serious charges are dropped due to incompetence or worse in the Attorney General’s department and chaos in the court system. But after a couple of days of investigating himself and his own department, the Attorney General says we don’t need an independent investigation;
    • Thousands of provincial offence charges are dropped across the province due to a shortage of JPs and closed courtrooms.

These are just a few examples. We’re seeing more every day.

People in Ontario simply cannot go on seeing double standards, governments looking the other way while laws are broken and there are hamstrung police officers who may be reluctant to enforce the law within the climate created by the McGuinty government.

If I set up a gate at the entrance to Queen’s Park claiming I owned the land, and tried to charge a hefty admission fee, I would be asked to leave and if I refused, I would be arrested – and rightly so.

If I sold contraband no tax cigarettes out of the back of my car in the parking lot, I would be arrested and brought to justice, and rightly so.

We need to see consistency, one standard for all, some real leadership from Mr. McGuinty based on principle, and while politicians do not and must not tell the police what to do, they must be seen actively enforcing the law.

Our campaign to stop this will take a number of forms. We are going to push the government in the Legislature. I will be visiting affected areas and sitting down with affected groups. And we will use every means at our disposal to try to get this government to end the lawlessness.

We want to see four things from the McGuinty government:

    1. A clear, unqualified statement that there is one rule of law for everyone in Ontario and that will be upheld always.

    2.      A policy that the government will not negotiate on the substance of any legal dispute with any person or group involved in an illegal occupation or any other illegal activity. Stop the lawbreaking first, then we will negotiate.

    3.      A commitment to use the courts to ensure one rule of law and a commitment to not stand in the way of police enforcing the law.

    4.      A commitment to an independent examination of the chaos presently enveloping our justice system and eroding public confidence daily as charges are dropped and outrageous deals are agreed to. What does the government have to hide and if the answer is nothing, why not commit to the inquiry now?

Through these things – a strong message, clear policy and action to back that up – we can stop lawlessness in Ontario.

We are heading down a slippery slope. That needs to stop and it’s up to Dalton McGuinty to show the leadership to get that done.

Now Toby Barrett is going to speak in some more detail about what has been happening in Haldimand County in his riding.

-30-