Oxford MPP Ernie Hardeman said he is “shocked” that the premier did not support a unanimous consent motion on Monday to push forward a bill that calls for mandatory carbon monoxide detectors in Ontario homes.
The Hawkins Gignac Bill, named after Oxford OPP constable Laurie (nee Gignac), her husband Richard Hawkins, and their children Cassandra and Jordan, who died from carbon monoxide poisoning in their Woodstock home, was introduced by Hardeman shortly after their tragic deaths in December 2008.
“Obviously the process has been an ongoing saga. We’ve had the Bill introduced five times. We’ve had second reading on it three times … of the three times that the Bill got to second reading, no one spoke negatively to the Bill and no one voted against the Bill so obviously it has the support of the total house,” Hardeman said in an interview with the Sentinel-Review Monday afternoon.
“I was really shocked today when we asked for unanimous consent and the premier personally said no to the unanimous consent along with the house leader.”
This recent development came, Hardeman said, just weeks after the premier previously said she was prepared to support mandatory carbon monoxide detectors in homes.
“Just two or three weeks ago the premier made a speech to the, I think it was the fire chiefs in Toronto, a fire service conference, and she said and I quote, ‘Mandatory carbon monoxide detectors is something that we need to make happen,’” he said.
“I can only conclude that they are playing politics with the Bill and I think that it is just totally wrong if the house unanimously keeps supporting the Bill that for political reasons, we would put other people’s lives at risk.”
In a statement emailed to the Sentinel-Review on Monday, government House Leader John Milloy said the objection had nothing to do with the Bill’s content.
“This morning Mr. Hardeman asked for unanimous consent for the Legislature to pass his carbon monoxide detectors private member's bill at all three readings, meaning the Bill would be passed into law without further debate or discussion. Our objection to his unanimous consent motion was in no way related to the Bill's content. In fact, government members have in the past expressed enthusiasm for Mr. Hardeman's bill during debate,” the statement read.
“It is the tradition of the Legislature that private members bills are considered for third and final reading only through an agreement between all three parties, negotiated by the House Leaders. That agreement has not yet been reached.”
According to provincial statistics compiled by the Canadian Press, more than 400 Canadians died from CO poisoning from 2000 to 2007.
When the house returns next fall, Hardeman said he is going to keep pushing to get the Bill to third reading.
“Obviously it has been supported. We had the agreement from the three house leaders before but they just didn’t get around to doing it because the premier prorogued the house. It’s been on the order paper five times now and the end result of each one was the house being prorogued,” he said.
“As tragic as the [Hawkins Gignac] family was in Woodstock, they are happening all over the province. Since that time, we’ve lost other people. The longer we wait with doing it, the more people we will lose and I just don’t think that there is any justification for that at all.”