By MPP Bobbi Ann Brady
Before the Legislature rose for Christmas, the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor, visited the House. In her message to members, she asked us to reflect on the privilege we have as legislators to defend democracy.
It resonated with me as defending democracy was why I decided to run as an Independent in the June 2nd provincial election. In that election, Haldimand-Norfolk defied the odds, and on August 8th, I took my seat as your member of provincial parliament, making my 2022 extraordinary. The responsibility you, as the electorate, have entrusted me with is one I do not take lightly.
My life has been a whirlwind since the end of April when I entered the provincial race – a whirlwind that has blessed me with incredible people, opportunities, and challenges. Over the past few months, reporters have asked me whether sitting as an independent is lonely. I appreciate the question; however, representing as an independent is liberating. The people of Haldimand-Norfolk are my boss, not a political party.
Over the following two columns, I will give a snapshot of what life has looked like in representing all of you at Queen’s Park.
On my first day in the House, the only order of business was to choose a Speaker by secret ballot. I was happy to see Ted Arnott get the nod. Ted’s the MPP for Wellington-Halton Hills, and he has always done a great job in this integral non-partisan role. Further, Speaker Arnott has long been a friend to me and, over the past months, has offered me a great deal of support.
The next order of business was delivering the Speech from the Throne – Together, Let’s Build Ontario, read by the Honourable Dowdeswell. She directed members of the Legislature to “ably and thoughtfully represent their interests.” On the policy side of the Speech, there was no mention of agriculture — disappointing for a rural MPP.
Another disappointment in the Throne Speech was the five percent increase in ODSP rates. It represents a monthly increase of $58.45. The government intends to introduce changes that will increase ODSP rates annually, tied to inflation but sadly, plans to do so are in July 2023.
I’ve referred to Caledonia’s Argyle Street bridge reconstruction as The NeverEnding Story. Now pushing 100 years old, the Ministry of Transportation in 2001 deemed the bridge to be in a state of deterioration. We are embarking on 2023, and vehicles are still crossing the same dilapidated bridge. Since August, I have twice asked the transportation minister for an update or a timeline. And twice I got the answer that pre-work and negotiations with First Nations are taking place…work, I believe, was completed long ago. I assure you I will continue to push the government to get shovels in the ground.
Precisely a month after I took my seat, our Queen of Canada, Elizabeth the Second, passed away, and I was honoured to pay tribute to Her Royal Highness in the Legislature. I reflected on the comfort the Queen’s annual Christmas Message gave me and millions of others.
Stay tuned next week for more highlights of 2022. In the meantime, I’d like to take this time to wish you all a Happy New Year. I hope 2023 will be filled with more good times than bad, health, and much happiness.
Bobbi Ann Brady is the MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk