Premier's Remarks at the Ottawa Mayor's Breakfast
Good morning. It's great to be here with you on the traditional territory of the Algonquin and Anishinaabe Peoples.
It's always wonderful to start the day with so many important members of our team and proud representatives of Ottawa: Bob, Madeleine and Phil. I want to thank Jim for the invitation and for being such a great partner to our new government.
I've been thinking a lot about mayors lately because I actually see Ontario as a network of communities, as an interconnected map of 444 municipalities whose economies, priorities and needs are all related. And so I plan to work closely with you, Jim, and with all our mayors. In fact, my vision for this province relies on all of you.
There is a book coming out later this year by a US thinker named Benjamin Barber, called "If Mayors Ruled the World." Barber spoke at the Ontario Small Urban Municipalities Conference earlier this year, so some of you may be familiar with his work. In his new book, he argues that cities provide us with the best model for progress in the future.
"If we shift our gaze from nation states to cities," he wrote, "things suddenly become possible that seemed impossible. Their relationships are based on communication, trade, transportation and culture. They are relational, not in a zero-sum game with one another. They promote collaboration, not exceptionalism."
I love this idea and this way of thinking. I first entered provincial politics because of my desire to improve the relationship between municipalities and the province. And now, as Premier, my vision for Ontario is based on my belief in collaboration. I want us to work together to build this province up. That is my responsibility as Premier and my priority.
My predecessor, who hails from this great city, was known as the Education Premier. During his time in office, he invested in our publicly funded school system to make sure that every child in Ontario had a great start in life. That was what was needed of him at the time. After years of devastating cuts, Ontario needed him to build our education system back up.
Now, at this time, Ontario needs a Premier who will focus on economic growth and job creation. I must create the right conditions so that every region, every city, every industry and every individual has the chance to succeed. The truth of the matter is that right now, Ontario is not performing up to its potential; we are not doing as well as we could be. We have the foundation, we have the talent, and we have the will, but we need to rally around a vision for what is possible. We need to collaborate with one another so that all of the parts work better. It's not as complicated as you might think, but it does require a sense of purpose and a plan.
In order for Ottawa and all of Ontario to benefit from a robust provincial economy, there are some straightforward things I believe we need to do.
- We need to invest in our infrastructure; It is the underpinning of our economy and if it's not working efficiently, neither are we. The creation of wealth is impossible without this foundation.
- We need to ensure that business regulation is fair, effective and lean. Our industries have to be able to grow and expand, to create jobs. And so while we continue to protect the environment and create safe workplaces, we need to also get out of the way of private sector success, wherever possible.
- We need to continue creating a progressive taxation regime - work we've already begun - in order to create more jobs and fuel the right kind of business environment in Ontario that will attract investment and expansion.
- We need to invest in our regional strengths, too. That means understanding what we are good at and building on that. Whether it's natural resources in the north or the knowledge-based economies of Ottawa and Kitchener Waterloo; Whether it's promoting local food as an economic driver, or investing in research and innovation to support the next RIM or Shopify.
- We need to expand the reach of our trade. Ontario has an unbelievably diverse population with networks that extend around the globe. We need to take advantage of that network and use it to build new opportunities.
- And we need to build better bridges into the workforce and address the skills gap in Ontario. That means helping young people find jobs, helping the unemployed make the transition back into the workforce, and tapping into the huge potential of our new Canadian population.
This is what I plan to do. All of these issues are connected to one another, just like all of our 444 municipalities are connected to one another. It is not a zero sum game. It's about collaboration. That is what will make Ontario exceptional. If we do this, if we focus on truly propelling economic growth and creating jobs, then Ontario will be a force to be reckoned with. The pay-off will be profound.
The people whose education we invest in today will be the entrepreneurs of tomorrow, the mayors of the future. The ideas we invest in will become industries. The business woman who introduces us to her former colleagues in Latin America or India or the Middle East - she will be the conduit to a new trade reality for Ontario. So our economy will benefit, yes. It will grow. But our communities will benefit too. Our way of life will benefit.
We will be able to grow communities like Ottawa in a sustainable manner. We will reduce our footprint on this beautiful part of the earth. We will have more time with our families at the end of the day, a bit more money in our pockets to improve our homes, and to spend in our wonderful markets and restaurants.
If every person in this province can work and contribute, their health will improve. The pressure on our social networks will ease. As our friends and parents age, they will be cared for and respected without overburdening our hospitals and health care system.
Economic growth is about making our lives better, so we can achieve more. We are a network, a map of interconnected communities and all those individual parts must succeed if Ontario is to succeed. This is the kind of Premier I plan to be and this is the relationship I want to have with Jim and with all of you. I want us to work together on that kind of collaboration, to work on our communication, our trade, transportation and culture.
If we do that, if we look at our future in this way - from the perspective of helping individual lives, ideas, jobs and companies. If we bring smart growth and investment to Ottawa and Thunder Bay, New Liskeard and Niagara-on-the-Lake. If we do this, then things will become possible that seemed impossible. We will address our challenges and we will exceed our potential.
In Ottawa, I know you are focused on doing this. Your priorities are my priorities, and that is the message I will bring to every mayor and every municipality in Ontario. We are going to work together, and we will grow our economy, help people in their everyday lives and show the world what Ottawa and Ontario can do.