Thursday, June 26, 2008

By-Election Update and A Farewell to Hampton

Still Waiting…

So it’s the end of June, which can mean only one thing: we’re probably not going to get a by-election to replace Brenda Chamberlain as our Federal Member of Parliament until the Fall. I remind you, gentle Echo reader that our government has until October 7 to announce when they’re going to fill our seat.

But the question is, why haven’t they called an election yet? "I have no idea why they haven't called an election," University of Guelph political science professor Judith McKenzie told the Guelph Mercury last week. "It's a real guessing game."

McKenzie though had a potential answer as to why. "I haven't heard the buzz that there's a huge push to have by-election," she added. Since Chamberlain’s retirement, the riding has been represented by Kitchener Centre MP Karen Redman and Chamberlain’s old constituency office on Cork St. has remained open.

In the meantime, the candidates aren’t wasting anytime by hosting big named guests and hitting each other where it counts: the issues.

It’s Not Easy Being Green

Conservative candidate Gloria Kovach fired off a salvo at Liberal Frank Valeriote last Wednesday saying that Valeriote “did not agree with investments in green technology.” Apparently, in an interview given for a Guelph Mercury article last March, Valeriote express his “disdain” for green technology saying, “Government shouldn’t help industries invest in green technologies. Instead, the government should place a cap on greenhouse gas emissions.”

“The Liberal policy on climate change has evolved through open debate and discussion and includes helping industry adopt new, greener technologies through the Advanced Manufacturing Prosperity Fund, part of the Liberal platform,” said Valeriote in response to my e-mail asking him about the press release. “I have said this in the past and continue to believe in a comprehensive response, including helping industries, regardless of what has been said otherwise.”

Meanwhile, the Kovach press release went on to say that instead of investing in green technology, Valeriote is a staunch supporter of Stéphane Dion’s “Tax Everything” plan. There’s even a link to the Conservative’s non-too-subtle “Will You be Tricked” website where the talking oil stain tells you to beware of carbon taxes because “it’s a tax on everything.” The ads were a matter of some controversy when they began airing last month as Conservatives had originally intended to have the ad aired at some gas stations around Southern Ontario, including Guelph.

Valeriote added that there will be more news to come about the Liberal approach to the environment. “Over the coming months you will see the Liberal Party's response to our need for a comprehensive climate change plan. I have advocated for a comprehensive plan to address global warming every time I have been asked since I was nominated as the Federal Liberal candidate for Guelph.”

In the meantime, Kovach was bringing a lot of headliners to town last weekend for a barbecue fundraiser in Exhibition Park. The Guest of Honour was The Hon. John Baird, Member of Parliament for Ottawa West-Nepean and, more importantly, the Minister of the Environment.

Get Down with NDPs

Meanwhile, across the political spectrum, NDP candidate Tom King hosted a few of his party’s MPs from Ontario at his campaign office on Woolwich. Members of the public were invited to meet David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre), Chris Charlton (Hamilton Mountain), Irene Mathyssen (London-Fanshawe), Peggy Nash (Parkdale-High Park), and Paul Dewar (Ottawa Centre) and enjoy some fair trade coffee and snacks.

Howard, We Hardly Knew Ye

Finally, Guelph Beat salutes Howard Hampton for his retirement after 12 years as provincial NDP leader. I will always remember Hampton for his campaign stunts from the 2003 election which included trying to nail Jell-o to a wall and having a flat-bed truck with big dollar sign bags drive away down the street. I can’t remember the point he was trying to make, but those were good gags. Hampton will continue to sit as MPP till the 2011 election.

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