Thursday, April 21, 2011

Valeriote's Missing Work and Burke's Just Missing

Frank Valeriote Would Rather Be Working, But…

It’s hard to say if Liberal candidate Frank Valeriote is an enviable position this election. Sure, he’s the incumbent candidate, and one that still has that new Member of Parliament sheen having just been elected for the first time in October 2008. But that victory, hard fought though it was, was by a narrow 1,788 votes, and with the Conservatives identifying Guelph as a piece on the board they need to take in order to win a majority, this fight is going to be tougher than ever. But in talking to Valeriote while he was taking a break from the campaign trail, it sounds like a fight he’s ready for.

“I don’t think Canadians realize how significant a moment that was, how historical a moment that was, being found to have lied to Parliament,” Valeriote says of the contempt of Parliament charge that ended the minority government of Stephen Harper. “Mr. Harper has an attitude that he’s above it all, he’s above the need to tell truth, he’s above the need to be transparent and he’s above the need to be accountable. The opposition is nothing more than an irritant to him.”

On the budget put before Parliament before its dissolution, Valeriote says that Harper and his government put forth a document that he knew was “not palatable to any party, [and] he knew it would provoke an election.” Valeriote added that it only paid lip-service to seniors and the economy, and had almost nothing to offer the environment, students and people of low-income. These are the very people that the Liberals want to win over, he says.

One of the items on the Liberal proposals that Valeriote is most passionate about comes out of his work with the Compassionate and Palliative Care Committee. The Liberals Family Care Plan will allow people to stay at home for six months to look after dying parents, as well as give them $1,350 towards expenses like travel costs. For students, Liberals will offer $1,000 for every year, from grade 9 to 12, in an RESP to “kick start” parents in saving for university and college while their kids are still in high school. The Liberals also want to give people an incentive to invest in local, environmentally-friendly businesses with a $13,500 credit and the option to write off the first of investment in green technologies.

But where is the money going to come from, you might ask. Simple, says Valeriote, no money for mega-prisons and fighter jets, and no huge, corporate tax cuts. “Of course, you know that the Conservatives will spin a message anyway you want and misinform people,” says Valeriote. “But the fact of the matter is we’re not going to give the $6 billion dollar tax cut to the largest corporations like he wants to. The fact of the matter is that over 60 per cent of the jobs created in Canada, are created by small business, not large business.”

To hear the whole Valeriote interview, go to my blog at

This Space Reserved for Marty Burke

The second of this week’s space in Guelph Beat should be taken up with excerpts from my interview with Conservative candidate Marty Burke. The problem with that is it would have required Burke’s Communications Director Michael Sona to give me the courtesy and respect of retuning any one of my seven phone calls to the Burke campaign office. Journalistically speaking, there’s no crying in covering a political campaign, it is, however, nice to know that I don’t have to go through it alone.

Last Thursday, CFRU 93.3, which has been doing its own weekly election show Monday mornings on your FM dial, sent out a press release to other media outlets (including me) saying that they have been having troubles getting Burke to take the proverbial hot seat. “[W]e are very disappointed that Conservative candidate Marty Burke has not responded to e-mail invitations and a personal office visit to come on the show to discuss his candidature,” said the release. “It should also be noted that in 2008, Conservative Gloria Kovach was one of the first candidates to respond, and, indeed, our first guest.”

The line for Marty Burke is to see if one can get him to respond at all. Three all-candidates debates were held last week, and Burke showed up for exactly one of them. He came out to a debate at Our Lady of Lourdes last Wednesday (where we was shellacked by various third party candidates for being racist), but skipped a University of Guelph forum for “personal reasons” and couldn’t make a Centennial C.V.I. debate because he was “booked.” So I guess the lesson here is give Marty Burke lots of advanced notice is you’re having an all-candidates debate in the near future.

The Slate

Speaking of Election Day, this is the list of confirmed candidates for the riding of Guelph in the 41st General Election: Philip Bender (Libertarian), Marty Burke (Conservative), Drew Garvie (Communist), Kornelis Klevering (Marijuana), John Lawson (Green), Karen Levenson (Animal Alliance Environment Voters), Bobbi Stewart (NDP) and Frank Valeriote (Liberal).

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