Federal election questions: Huron-Bruce
The Strip asked all of the candidates five questions related to federal issues in our ridings.
The Green Party did not return our questionnaire by press time, and the Christian Heritage Party’s Dave Joslin did not respond to these questions.
What is the most pressing issue facing your riding, and what do you plan to do about it if elected?
Greg McClinchey: There is no such thing as one issue that is most important in an election. Elections are never about any one issue. Elections are about Canadians selecting the people who will help guide our nation’s path in the years ahead. Anyone who would try to tell you that elections can be distilled down to a single issue are trying to sell you an overly simplified version of their marketing plan. Elections are a time when citizens should engage in the process, talk to neighbours and discuss issues with those seeking office. Citizens should make their candidates talk about the issues that are discussed in the milk house, around kitchen tables and at coffee shops. It is not for political parties to tell local citizens what an election is going to be about – the flow of information should be running from the constituency to Ottawa and not the other way around.
Tony McQuail: When I first ran federally in 1980 we said we should be using the windfall profits of the oil companies and invest them in energy conservation and renewable energy. We didn’t do it then and we are now heading into a perfect ecological and economic storm composed of three interconnected components – peak oil, climate change and environmental collapse. These are real problems that are shaking the underpinnings of our global casino financial economy. So the biggest challenge facing Huron-Bruce and the rest of the world is to make the transition from the global casino economy to an ecologically sustainable economy that uses our local resources to shift away from oil, reduce our contribution to climate change and manage our natural resources in an ecologically sustainable fashion so that we have secure local livelihoods. During this election I have been “test driving” a rural ride share concept that could let us halve our gas use and transportation costs now with our existing vehicles. If elected I would work with our community to develop local solutions and then work in Ottawa to get pilot project funding and support for local initiatives. I would also support the New Democrats plan to cap carbon emissions, make large polluters pay, and use that money to help communities develop green technologies and green collar jobs. Developing a local economy that will offer secure jobs in a sustainable community can be the result of developing a green economy.
Dennis Valenta: LACK OF REPRESENTATION would be the most pressing issue in this (or any) Riding (except where there is an Independent already) as we are not tied to the party and free to work for the very people whom not only elect MPs but pay their wages.
Ben Lobb: I believe that the most pressing issue facing our riding is the economy. If elected, I believe we need to continue to keep taxes low, keep our budget balance and keep paying down our national debt. I would also fight to keep industry and manufacturing jobs in the riding. Just a few days ago the Volvo plant in Goderich announced that it would be closing doors and heading south of the border. This will leave many people without jobs. We need to invest in retraining these individuals so they can develop new skills to re-enter the workforce.
What is the biggest environmental issue facing your riding and what will you do to address it?
Greg McClinchey: Greenhouse gas reduction is important but so is the long-term health of the Great Lakes. So often we fail to address the dire need for a national water policy. I am proud that the Liberal Party has identified Great Lakes health as a priority and I eagerly look forward to working to help make certain that the Lakes get the attention that they deserve.
Tony McQuail: Climate change will affect agriculture, tourism and the global economy. The New Democrats cap and trade plan would limit carbon emissions from Canada’s largest polluters and invest in renewable and green technologies to assist the families around the kitchen table to save money and reduce their carbon emissions. For more details see:
Dennis Valenta: Two things come to mind about the environment: garbage and Bruce Power/heavy water/lake. No I’m not going to promise to get rid of either. I do think federal government should always be watching, not hindering but enforcing regulations to keep our source of power safe for those that produce and use it.
I think we should be looking at incineration, as a practical way of getting rid of our garbage.
Ben Lobb: This riding borders one of the Great Lakes; I believe protecting this freshwater reserve is a concern for many residents in Huron-Bruce. The Conservative government is investing $48 million dollars to clean up eight areas of concern on the Canadian side of the Great Lakes. We will continue to work with our neighbors to the south to protect this natural resource. We have also restated our commitment that Conservatives are strictly opposed to the export of bulk water.
I also believe Canada, along with the rest of the world, needs to tackle climate change. That is why we have introduced tough mandatory targets for industry right here at home. Canada will also play an active role in negotiations to develop a new international agreement on climate change with contributions from all major emitters, including the United States, China and India. We should be seeking to ensure that global emissions are cut at least in half by 2050.
Do you believe your riding needs federal infrastructure funding, and if so, what will you do to bring it here?
Greg McClinchey: I am a local councillor so I struggle with this question each and every day. The answer is unreservedly YES! Infrastructure renewal is one of the most pressing issues we face today. In some communities, such as Hensall, Crediton and Belgrave, people are being forced to pay thousands of dollars from their own pocket just to have fresh water to drink. This reality is bankrupting business and it is forcing people from their homes. This is unacceptable. If the Harper government would stop making foolish choices like cutting the GST (something which offered little help to the average Canadian), perhaps we would have the fiscal capacity to help people update their infrastructure without forcing hard-working Canadians to leave their homes. Infrastructure must be a national priority and must not be shuffled off to the municipalities or to private homeowners.
Tony McQuail: Yes, and also federal funding to support the retooling of existing manufacturing in the riding so that we can produce the emerging green technologies and parts for the small and low- and no-emission cars that we are proposing in our green car strategy. I would work with local municipalities and industries to identify needs and opportunities. I would represent these to Ottawa and seek to find the appropriate programs and departments from which to obtain support.
Dennis Valenta: Yes. Let’s remember, any money that Federal Government has IS OUR MONEY!!! The taxpayer has earned the right to spend their money as they see fit, and I will voice that opinion until we in Huron-Bruce get our fair share. That would be total amount of cash, divided by total number of ridings equals amount per riding
Ben Lobb: I believe that infrastructure is an ongoing issue. Last year the Conservative government implemented the Building Canada Plan. This plan is a $33-billion, seven-year plan to contribute to a competitive economy, a cleaner environment and strong and prosperous communities. Last year alone, the Conservative Government invested money in wastewater treatment and water systems in four municipalities in Huron-Bruce. If elected I will fight to bring more money to this riding to provide cleaner drinking water, safer highways and expanded public transit. This will mean new projects, construction and jobs for the riding of Huron Bruce.
What will you do to stimulate the economy in your riding?
Greg McClinchey: The current infrastructure deficit in Canada is about $123 billion. Imagine the economic boom that would take place if the federal government was serious about dealing with crumbling water systems, roads, sewers, etc. Mr. Harper’s cutting of the GST by two per cent cost the federal government about $12-billion per year. Had we put that money towards infrastructure it would have completely renewed our national infrastructure in 10 years and it would have touched off the largest national construction effort in our history. It would have employed hundreds of thousands of people for a decade. Innovate out-of-the-box thinking like this is what our country needs. Not shortsighted policies designed to buy votes.
Tony McQuail: In the post=petroleum economy, we need to stop thinking of “stimulate” and “growth”. These have been the watchwords of the speculative bubble economies of Wall Street and Bay Street. The economic assumptions underpinning these words were made possible by a century spent squandering the planet’s oil reserves that had taken millions of years to accumulate. Wall Street and Bay Street have “stimulated” themselves to economic collapse and “grown” the economy to the point of cannibalizing nature. If we are going to have a future we can be proud to pass on to our children, we need to think about how to stabilize our local economy so that it is durable and frugal and meets the needs of the families around the kitchen tables across Huron-Bruce for now and into the future. I’ve spent the past 35 years of my life helping farmers shift to more ecological forms of farming that offer them greater stability and control of their lives. I’ve also been studying ecological economics and holistic management and would work with the people of Huron-Bruce to do serious sustainability planning. The New Democrats platform includes provisions for improvements to EI and transitional funding to help individuals and communities shift from old employment and technologies into the green collar jobs in the emerging economy.
Dennis Valenta: Bring community college to riding, which helps keep youth in riding. Have schools teach farming/manufacturing/tourism, whatever. Eliminate government red tape so industry can prosper. Look at building better four-lane highway to connect us to major centres.
Ben Lobb: I believe that we need to keep our spending focused, our budget balanced and our taxes down to protect the living standards of Canadian families at a time of global economic uncertainty. We need to keep industry in the riding, attract new industry and invest in retraining initiatives so those that have lost their jobs can develop new skills to re-enter the workforce and hopefully into a higher paying job. To help attract new industry, the Conservative government has committed to reducing corporate taxes and by 2012 Canada will have the lowest corporate tax rate among the G7 nations.
Tourism is an important industry in our readership area. Do you believe the federal government should fund arts and culture projects, and if so, what kind?
Greg McClinchey: The Harper Government recently announced dramatic cuts to arts and culture funding and I feel that this is a tremendously shortsighted policy. Tourism is essential to the survival of places like Grand Bend and Blyth and cutting culture is cutting tourist attractions. Also, tourism is a major industry in Canada – worth billions of dollars. Cutting the arts is yet another serious blow to Ontario’s economy; an attack that we could have done without. The Liberal Party is opposed to any such cuts and would reverse the move without hesitation. Tourism needs to be bolstered – not slashed.
Tony McQuail: Yes. We would restore the arts funding arbitrarily cut by the Harper Conservatives. Increase public funding for the Canada Council for the Arts. We believe in supporting local theatre and festivals and community arts programs. We would also develop a strategy for funding, supporting and preserving Canadian museums, historic buildings and heritage lighthouses.
Dennis Valenta: Yes I do. Only the ones that would draw people to spend their money to see! Government should be run like a business, not in competition with, but like, and it will thrive.
Ben Lobb: I think we should engage Canadians in their communities through the expression and celebration of local culture. The economic impacts of tourism in this riding are important to a strong economy. The Conservative government provides $2.3 billion annually to arts and culture and has increased the funding by eight per cent over the previous Liberal government. The Conservatives have committed $100 million to our national museums and national art centers to address operating and infrastructure pressures. Just recently, the Conservatives awarded almost $100,000 for Southampton’s 150th anniversary celebration, which included performances by local artists and musicians.