If you’re reading this particular column, then the by-election has been cancelled and we’re now in the midst of a full-blown general election. Thanks for playing, but this game’s just gone into extra innings. It’s all good sport though; we’re kind of getting a taste of what the Americans go through with seemingly never ending elections.
Anyway, here we are with part two of my four part series in which I’ve asked the four major candidates to respond to four questions concerning the issues of the campaign. This week we talk the economy, jobs in particular, which was the subject of many announcements last week. Tom King laid out the NDP’s three-part stimulus plan in the shadow of nearly a thousand layoffs at Guelph-based Linamar. Prime Minister Stephen Harper meanwhile went to a former Ford plant in Windsor to announce new funding for the suffering auto sector. This drew fire from CAW head Buzz Hargrove, who said he was “furious” that the Conservative government has only decided to pay attention to Ontario’s manufacturers with a pending election.
This week – Question #2: How do we combat the loss of manufacturing jobs in Ontario?
Tom King: The NDP has a package of “Smart Incentives” that will help areas in the province hit hard by the manufacturing crisis. Changes to corporate taxation must be made to increase investment and strategies to encourage new environmental technologies. Our “Greener Communities Strategy” can create 313,000 new jobs by focusing on retrofitting existing infrastructure and saving businesses. The NDP’s “Green-Collar Jobs Plan” aids laid-off workers and their communities by retraining them for green-collar jobs – matching trends with future needs. We believe in a fair trade policy that places workers as the priority – not profits.
Gloria Kovach: We must ensure a strong economy and proactively work to build Canadian competitiveness internationally and within our borders. In the short-term, we must retrain those who have lost their jobs. In Ontario, a new federal-provincial program called the Community Development Trust supports “job training to create opportunities for workers in sectors facing labour shortages, community transition plans that foster economic development and create new jobs.” Longer term, we must develop new technologies that will create new manufacturing opportunities, like The Harper Government’s $1.3 billion Science & Technology Strategy. It includes a $250 million Automotive Innovation Fund to help make Canada a leader in "green" automotive technologies and greenhouse gas reduction.
Mike Nagy: We need integrated solutions. We have to increase and develop our base of skilled workers through education and immigration policies; promote local businesses in local markets; and go green because it is the biggest economic opportunity of this century. Education shouldn't be debt sentence, but a skill-developing, life experience that prepares Canadians for the world. The immense pool of skills that immigrants contribute to should be fostered, not systematically rejected. Local economies offer local solutions and secure and fair markets. We know green manufacturing of products for a green future not the grey past means opportunity, sustainability and quality.
Frank Valeriote: We cannot have a government telling investors not to invest in Ontario and then not offering immediate relief; we’ve lost over 100,000 jobs. Industry needs immediate relief along with a long term tax reduction to make Canada competitive. We will combat these job losses with the creation of a $1 billion Advanced Manufacturing Prosperity Fund that will partner with industry. Further, the Green Shift’s pledge to cut corporate and small business taxes by 1 per cent while creating an environment for next generation jobs in the green industry not only protects the current jobs but spurs creation of more in an ever growing field.
For more information on the Guelph election, visit my blog at http://guelphbyelectionbeat.blogspot.com/