Thursday, July 17, 2008

Dion Comes to Town and Wal-Mart Fight Flares

Dion sees Green Opportunity in Guelph

We will be taxed less on what we earn and more on what we burn. This was, in short, the message at the heart of St├ęphane Dion’s new Green Shift, a plan both bold and controversial, as presented during the Liberal leader’s visit to Guelph last Thursday.

In many ways it was a visit long overdue; Dion is the last of the Federal Party leaders to make the trip to the Royal City in anticipation for the coming by-election this Fall. Guelph’s Liberal candidate, Frank Valeriote, and his team hosted Dion and a couple of hundred Guelphites to a town hall meeting at the Italian-Canadian Club on Ferguson Street.

Although the party faithful were heavily in attendance for their leader’s visit, one of several stops for Dion through Southwestern Ontario, the meeting was open to the public and it appeared the public took full advantage. Volunteers kept bringing out more seats into the main banquet hall and when that wasn’t enough, they opened the divider in the middle of the room. Although the riding is Valeriote’s, this was Dion’s day in the spotlight as he continues pushing his radical new environmental agenda.

The Green Shift is either Dion’s carbon tax plan or his “Tax Everything” plan depending on who you ask. The Liberal leader though sees it as the key platform that will return his party to the head of the country with the help of an electorate hungry for a substantive dedication to fighting climate change. Basically, the plan calls for a per tonne tax on pollution generated and returns money to the pockets of taxpayers in the form of income tax cuts and other credits.

Dion dedicated an hour to taking questions from the audience, mostly they were about the Green Shift, but others touched on subjects like intergovernmental affairs and education. He reiterated his feeling that the Green Shift will breed an environment (pun intended) for research and development and will promote, not an end to the Canadian economy, but a shift to a Green economy.

At a media scrum following the town hall, Dion reiterated his excitement for the Green Shift and his belief that that it will be an easy sell to Canadians looking for change in the environment. “We have seen how much its going well,” said Dion when asked about the difficulty of selling his plan. “I am very impressed by the fact Canadians want to do the right thing and there is a way to tackle climate change, have a stronger economy and a fairer society.”

Dion went on to say that he looks forward to seeing a by-election in Guelph fought over environmental policy in spite of the fact that Guelph has a strong Green Party candidate in Mike Nagy. Meanwhile, Valeriote said that he looks forward to testing this new policy on the campaign trail. “It may well be a test for the Green Shift plan, but I can tell you a lot of non-Liberals that I know have come to me and expressed their gratitude that something so bold and something so innovative has been undertaken by this party because something must be done about global warming.”

Council Strikes Back at the Empire

In what had to be one of the biggest forgone conclusions in municipal politics, Guelph City Council rejected 6&7 Developments’ proposed plan for expansion of Wal-Mart and new commercial development at the corner of Woolwich and Woodlawn. By a vote of nine to four, only Christine Billings, Gloria Kovach, Karl Wettstein and Mayor Karen Farbridge voted in favour of the plan which called for an expansion of Wal-Mart by 65,000 square feet and the addition of another 135,000 square feet of other stores.

Although the debate was more muted this time around, strong words are still being spoken by both sides in reaction to last Monday’s vote. On the Ward 2 blog I found both words of derision and words of support.

For the former, one citizen had to say that, “This council is very much a ‘lobby-oriented’ group, listening, not to the “silent majority” of us, but to the vocal anti-development minority lobby which has held sway over this city for so long!”

Anonther area resident wrote in asking “What will happen to Community Commercial Plazas such as Speedvale and Stevenson, which has served the community well since the 1950s? There are many seniors living in this area including my parents who can walk, take a cab or a small drive to get their necessities. 6 and 7 will have a negative impact on small community centers like this.”

No comments:

Post a Comment