Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Candidates – By the Issues Part 4

This week we reach the fourth and final question from the Candidate Questionnaire.

Question #4, Candidates choice: What issue, aside from the three previous, do you consider a matter of importance for the city, the region and the country?

Tom King: I am extremely concerned about the growing number of people living in poverty. In a country such as ours, where there is an abundance of resources and riches, how can Canadians be poor? When the House of Commons voted to support Ed Broadbent’s motion calling for urgent action to end child poverty by 2000, many Canadians had a renewed sense of optimism. The Conservatives and Liberals made a commitment to the poor and vulnerable in our country but when it came time to take a principled stand, they chose Bay Street over Main Street.

Gloria Kovach: Building Canadian competitiveness and keeping the economy strong.
In just two and a half years our Conservative government has reduced the federal debt by $37 billion dollars, we have made many changes to personal taxes to aid in improving the fiscal health of Canadians including: Increasing the basic personal exemption, tax credits for public transit, sports, textbooks, tools and apprentices; income tax eliminated on student scholarships and bursaries; introduced the most important savings vehicle since the RRSP, a savings account for up to $5,000 per year with a tax free exemption on interest or capitol gains.

Mike Nagy: Poverty. Martin Luther King wrote that, “The solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.” We are such a rich country with a beautiful history of democracy, justice and social responsibility. The fact that 15 per cent of Canadians live in poverty, including children, is a national tragedy and utterly unacceptable. We have solutions to eradicate poverty, provide every Canadian with housing, introduce the guaranteed liveable income, ensure that education that isn't a debt sentence by forgiving 50 per cent of student loans upon graduation, and remove taxes from the people who earn the least.

Frank Valeriote: In my mind, the most important issue for Guelph and Canada as a whole is health care. The Liberal Party is committed that our health care system remains public and accessible to everyone, especially the least privileged. Our first priority in terms of health care is to reduce wait times. The Harper government has not moved forward on this issue, and the Canada Health Council and the Canadian Medical Association have both criticized this government for not meeting former Liberal targets on reducing wait times. This is unacceptable, and the Liberal Party will change this in government.

Debate On!

It was announced that the candidates’ debate, which was cancelled out of anticipation of the calling of General Election back on September 3rd, has been rescheduled for October 7th. The debate will still be hosted by the Guelph Place Banquet Hall on Michener Road, and will still be carried live on Rogers Cable. Two days later, on October 9th, another debate will be hosted at Guelph Place, but with a more unusual set-up.

It’s being organized by Cam Guthrie, who was a public Kovach supporter until recently. He says on his website that he “cannot stand typical debates.” On debate night, each candidate will get a half-hour on stage, alone, to answer questions while the others wait in a secluded room, where they’ll be unable to hear the questions, as they await there turn. The questions will be taken from those submitted to him online from the public. King, Kovach, Nagy and Valeriote have all been invited to participate, but it seems that Valeriote has already turned down the offer.

Anyone wanting to send Guthrie a question can e-mail him at, just make sure your questions are about vision, accountability and leadership. And for more information on the Guelph Election, visit my blog at

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Candidates – By the Issues Part 3

First, let me give my heart felt sympathies to the employees of the local Elections Canada office. Right up until Sunday the 7, they had to pretend that there was still a by-election going down the next day. Anyway, Prime Minister Stephen Harper felt that the opposition parties weren’t coming to work and actually contributing anymore, so he did the only thing he could do: end it all. So apropos, that brings us to this week’s issue:

Question #3: How will you work to create a better, more co-operative Parliament?

Tom King: New Democrats come to Ottawa to make Parliament work, to put Canada on a progressive path that will meet this century’s biggest challenges. We want to balance the books and pay down debt, but we also recognize our obligation to the future. In Parliament, New Democrats realize that we are not here to scandal-monger over the latest headline. We are here because this country is crying out for progressive solutions to the challenges of the century ahead. The NDP will not let Canadians be taken for granted. They deserve better than what Liberal and Conservative governments delivered.

Gloria Kovach: Like every Canadian, I see media reports and wonder what is happening in Ottawa. However, despite what we see in Question Period, the fact is that the Harper government has made great strides in two and a half years with a minority government for Canadians – such as improving our economy, passing improved crime legislation to ensure safer communities, healthcare advances and making us a more respected and responsible player on the international stage. Every elected official should ensure they represent their communities’ needs, be a strong voice and take the responsibility seriously and show up to vote.

Mike Nagy: Have you been to the House of Commons? It behaves deplorably. I've seen more constructive, sensitive and honourable behaviour at day cares. Canadians don't deserve this. The Green Party is the only party that can create a better, more co-operative Parliament. Why? Because we are the only ones without partisan baggage; because Canadians of all political stripes and colours like us whether or not they have voted for us before; because I want to set an example in Ottawa by fostering respect and co-operation, building consensus, and celebrating common ground.

Frank Valeriote: The amount of rancour going on during Question Period is embarrassing for all Canadians, but it can change if each and every MP pauses and remembers to behave in a civilized fashion before they speak. Glen Pearson and Bill Casey are excellent parliamentarians and their example is what all politicians should follow. I think if MPs make an individual, conscious decision to be more respectful to each other, then Parliament will become more co-operative.

What about the others…?

With the general election now in full-swing, the playing board is wiped clean. The four majors will keep going, but there were four other “third party” candidates in the running too. So far, only Karen Levenson of the Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party says that she’s going to keep going. Guinness World Record holder for most elections contested, John Turmel, also plans to stay in the race in either Brant or Guelph. Turmel says he’s leaning towards Guelph, calling Brantford “undemocratic” after he was escorted from a provincial election debate last Fall. Libertarian Philip Bender and Marijuana Party candidate Kornelis “Brother Kase” Klevering had not yet stated their intentions by deadline.

Now what?

Yes, you will have to vote again if you went to an advanced poll. If you were one of the ones that had cast your ballot before the September 8 by-election day, you will have to fill out another ballot on October 14. All the ballots already cast have been boxed up and shipped to a warehouse in Ottawa; just like the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

For more information on the Guelph now-general election, visit my blog at Yes. It’s still called “Guelph By-Election Blog.” It’s a brand now, get used to it.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Candidates - By the Issues Part 2

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

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Candidates: By the Issues – Part 1

Well, the last six weeks have surely flown by have they not? It seems like only yesterday we started this grand adventure to select our next Member of Parliament for the Royal City… And then the Prime Minister and the Opposition leaders decided that since we’re having so much fun in Guelph, Saint-Lambert and Westmount–Ville-Marie, the entire country might as well join in.

Now, to be fair, as I write this I haven’t the foggiest idea for certainty that we’re now going to the polls with the rest of Canada on October 14th , just the certainty that everyone else in the media seems to have. As a result, this article was originally scheduled to lay out four questions to all the major party candidates that dealt with the most important issues debated in this election. But with more time now, we’re doing it as a four part series.

The following are the four responses to the first question asked in my Candidate Questionnaire. Now, due to the limited space in our esteemed publication, I’m afraid I had to limit myself to only asking the top four candidates to participate, and then requesting of them to limit their responses to a maximum of 100 words for each question.

This week: Question #1: What’s the best strategy for dealing with climate change?

Tom King: The NDP has a better way for Canada and a better plan for the environment. Our strategy will lower pollution by law. In fact, Jack Layton’s Climate Change Accountability Act (Bill C-377) is the only science-based targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent, by placing an annual cap on the amount of carbon the big polluters can emit. Such a plan, advocated by the United Nations, the European Union, Senator Obama, Governor Schwarzenegger, Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba and British Columbia, will help ensure Canada reaches its pollution reduction targets in the short and long-term.

Gloria Kovach: It’s important to set clear targets for reductions on greenhouse gas emissions and not look at a tax grab and think that it’s going to reduce our carbon footprint. The Conservatives have implemented the first ever Canadian plan which forces big polluters to cut their emissions, focuses on carbon capture and targets to cut air pollution by half in the next 7 years. We have increased investment in public transit. Technology plays a key part in our plan. Developing green technologies will allow us to cut our emissions while turning Canada into a leader in this rapidly growing area.  

Mike Nagy: As we have been saying for years now, the best strategy for dealing with climate change is ours. It is investing in energy efficiency and conservation first; taxing big polluters; honouring our Kyoto commitment; putting moratorium on new Tar Sands development; developing and invest in new low carbon energy sources' investing heavily in public transit including the rebuilding of Via Rail and Light Rail; giving financial incentives for new Green Collar industries and greening our auto sector. The strongest strategy is an innovative strategy. The strongest strategy is our strategy.

Frank Valeriote: The best strategy for dealing with climate change is the Green Shift. Only the Liberal plan keeps both cap-and-trade system a possibility and immediately implements a carbon tax regime that will place more money in the pockets of Canadians. Unlike the plan of other parties, the Green Shift will work immediately to bring greenhouse emissions down. Economists and environmentalists alike have praised the it as a bold and decisive strategy for tackling climate change. The Auditor General will be asked to ensure that the government does not profit from it, so accountability will be ensured.

For more information on the Guelph By-election, visit my blog at