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2014-05-26 at 16:12

Northern tussle

By Matt Vis, tbnewswatch.com
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THUNDER BAY -- For the first time since she toppled the government, the leader of the New Democrats put a dollar figure to her party’s Ring of Fire commitment.

In response to a question at Monday’s Northern Leaders Debate regarding funding to develop infrastructure for the lucrative mining project, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said she would not only match the $1 billion promised by the Liberals but would provide more as necessary.

“The investment has to come right away,” she said while at her debate podium at the Valhalla Inn ballroom.

“New Democrats are committed not only to the $1 billion, but if it takes more than that $1 billion and we’re committed to that as well because the opportunity is magnificent for Northern Ontario communities and First Nations.”

Meanwhile, Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne, in her platform unveiled over the weekend, said the $1 billion previously announced in the spring budget would be accessible immediately upon re-election.

It also included a pledge to create a development corporation, an entity that was first promised last fall, within 60 days of re-election.

Wynne said the timing of its imminent creation is not driven by trying to gain favour of voters but rather as a result of progress, such as the Regional Framework Agreement with the Matawa First Nations.

“The fact is we needed to have that framework agreement and (Minister of Northern Development and Mines and Thunder Bay-Superior North candidate) Michael Gravelle will tell you that was something that had to be in place to be able to open the door to allow the First Nations to work with us and I hope the federal government and businesses,” Wynne said.

When asked about whether she supports the development corporation, Horwath was non-committal.

“The first thing I would do is determine what it is, if anything, they have actually done in terms of a development corporation and take it from there,” Horwath said.

Horwath and the NDP had been tight lipped about funding for the Ring of Fire, with the leader dodging questions at a campaign stop as recently as the morning prior to the debate.

In a media follow-up after the debate Horwath said the funding was part of the party’s financial plan, but admitted she did not know how much money would be required.

The Liberals quickly fired back, sending a ‘fact check’ to media declaring that the NDP had never attributed a dollar figure to the Ring of Fire in its recently released election platform.

Both candidates stuck to their primary talking points throughout the duration of the debate, not straying off script or engaging the other in argument or dialogue.

For Horwath that meant firing at the Liberals with accusations of corruption, especially when it relates to the gas plant scandal.  

For significant portions of the debate the NDP leader spent her attention attacking her counterpart, rather than providing specific, detailed solutions to the problems she identified.

Horwath set her path for the debate during her two-minute opening statement, spending the segment laying out why she believes the Liberal regime needs to be ousted, rather than an NDP government elected.

She referenced the gas plant scandal and tried to portray Wynne as the puppeteer.

After the debate, Wynne told local media that Horwath was just playing games to distract from the real Northern issues.

“She knows those allegations are not true,” Wynne said. “I think it’s quite a statement and a bit sad the leader of the NDP falls back on that when we were here to answer questions of Northern leaders.”

The shots at the Liberal leader continued with the beginning of the question period, with the first asking about plans to for energy supply in Northwestern Ontario.

Horwath said the Liberals twice broke election promises regarding the Thunder Bay Generating Station and converting it to natural gas. She accused the Liberals of not securing an adequate supply of biomass to run the plant throughout the winter.

She said the region needs solutions for now as well as the future.

“We need to make sure the biomass is enough to meet the needs of Northwestern Ontario, apparently the only thing the Liberals are committing to is enough to get you through the middle of January of next year and that’s not good enough,” Horwath said.

“In the longer term we need to look at the generating station, the generating capacity and the possibility of actually turning it into a gas fired plant.”

The leaders also faced questions asking them to identify strategies to balance the budget and reduce provincial debt, to create a skilled workforce, seek consultations with involved Northern stakeholders in the passing of new legislation and the impact of declining MPAC property values assessments on small communities.

Other than a brief swipe by Horwath, accusing absent PC leader Tim Hudak of not caring about the region, the PC’s lack of presence during the debate was rarely noticed.

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Comments

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dynamiter says:
In Ontario, the Liberal government, first under Dalton McGuinty and now under Wynne, has doubled Ontario’s debt to close to $300 billion in just over 10 years, is running an estimated $12.5 billion deficit this year, which has gone up in each of the past two years, and presided over the downgrading of Ontario’s credit rating. In his now infamous budget of 1995, Paul Martin announced massive, unilateral cuts to federal transfer payments for health, social services and education. Under Martin's 1995 block fund, the Canada Health and Social Transfer (CHST), federal transfers to the provinces were slashed by almost $4 billion in two years - from $16.6 billion in 1995 to $12.6 billion in 1997.

The Martin cuts caught the provincial governments completely off guard. Martin slashed a line item but health care needs didn't let up in the provinces. The cash shortfalls forced the provinces to lay off health professionals and cut health services.
5/26/2014 4:16:24 PM
dynamiter says:
contd

Paul Martin did the slashing of transfers and Harris had to do the cutting of the provincial budgets. Now if you think that any politician looks at the seniority lists and picks individuals or parts of organizations to cut - you should really take a reality pill. They set targets and civil servants and their minions make the actual plans and cuts.

Of note also = Flaherty did not cut back transfer payments when he became finance minister. So the jump that Hudak will become the next Harris is erroneous. But a look at the Sunshine list will show that there is a lot of fluff in most government organizations. It would make sense that cutbacks and forced early retirement without replacement of these individuals can be done without impacting nurses, teachers or hydro lineman etc.
5/26/2014 6:33:37 PM
tiredofit says:
What most people don't realize, is the 100,000 job cuts will affect everything, not just your basic Ministry Services. There are only about 65,000 people out of the 900,000 or 600,000 or 1.2mil depending on who you ask.

Those cuts will be in Schools, Hospitals, nursing homes etc.. And then once again, as he's promised, he will download services back onto the cities, towns and municipalities, thus raising our already over inflated property taxes.

Long and short of it, a 100,000 jobs eliminated = 200,000 additional jobs or more lost due to all of those decent paying jobs being taken out of the system. Those who will loose their jobs will be front line staff and maybe a few on the sunshine list, many actually work for Agencies which are self sustaining or fund other than taxes (IE: Liquor Control Board, Beer Store, WSIB, Hydro One). How many frontline staff are on that list? ZERO, how many front line staff will be cut? probably about 95,000, who wins? NO ONE. Not even as a tax payer.
5/27/2014 9:26:59 AM
dynamiter says:
You are exactly the reason that we are in trouble. Your Liberal/NDP logic means that we should be hiring more civil servants because everyone of those guys we hire means that somebody else gets hired. Yes many jobs wont be your basic Ministry services - why do we have a big Lottary corporation? Couldnt/shouldnt government be privatizing that and still get their gambling fix without all the staff. Looking at things like Woodbine Entertainment Group is bad? If you think that those who lose their jobs will be front line - that will be because of typical bad management and the civil servants will need to be forced to cut overhead jobs. I dont know if people not on the sunshine list are not needed but when an organization is going broke every job needs to be looked at. And the fear that you cant cut jobs will lead to Ontario being like California or Detroit. Cut the fluff before all of our civil servants pensions both retired and workers is worth nothing.
5/27/2014 8:54:54 PM
Molly says:
Can anyone interpret Horwaths's words for me.ma whole bunch of nothing here!

“The first thing I would do is determine what it is, if anything, they have actually done in terms of a development corporation and take it from there,” Horwath said."

5/26/2014 4:27:04 PM
yqtyqt says:
The race to bankruptcy has started. Who can promise the most but never disclose specific details about how they will pay for the wild promises.

I'm happy that Wynne was asked about the $1.1 billion gas plant cancellation. Of course you knew she wouldn't take ownership and state who will be accountable for this waste. The ongoing liberal scandals just keep coming.

But true to form, Wynne was full of the blah, blah, blah Hudak, and the feds need to pump us more money because we're just about out.

Now I didn't have the stomach to watch the whole circus side show, but did Wynne mention how she was going to address the debt hole that her & Dalton committed out grandchildren to.

I hope that Hudak keeps the pressure up on the continuous Liberal corruption. Ontario just can't let this go, or will be a green light for more waste, corruption, public servants, and debt.
5/26/2014 4:33:42 PM
unheard says:
Debate's are pointless when dealing with a here and now topic.
Should have been a Q and A from the northern public
5/26/2014 6:15:13 PM
progress now says:
It was an interesting discussion. I wouldn't call it a debate. It would have been better if format allowed to respond to each others comments.

It was what you would expect. The incumbent took the high road , and the challenger was constantly on the attack.

Wynn emphasized emphasized the importance of Northern Ontario within the province and the country, while Horwath hammered on northern nationalism and differentness if that is a word.

In short, each spoke to their audience. In my view Horwath would be more effective if she were less strident - even mean sounding, and Wynn might to well challenge allegations more directly.

If these leaders spoke to the big picture, we need to see the local candidates debate in a true debate formate to get at the details.



5/26/2014 6:21:47 PM
Jack Frost says:
$1 billion or more, whatever it takes !!!

So generous with TAXpayer's dollars to help even more of the already super wealthy corporations...

This is nothing more than the same old SHAMELESS ARROGANT politicians once again prostituting themselves for the SHEEPLE'S vote and for more of their ABUSIVE governing POWER !!!

This $1 billion or more of TAXpayer's dollars could be much better used elsewhere to help ALL Ontario's people instead of wealthy corporations and a very select few !!!

They have NOT earned my vote !!
Tbnewswatch.com

5/26/2014 6:26:15 PM
Kam River says:
This afternoon Kathleen Wynne tripped up and revealed her dishonesty, by refusing to answer the very simple question of how many public service layoffs would result from her platform.

Questioned on public sector layoffs, Wynne said it’s, “….too complicated to say answers,” and, “….there is no yes or no answer.”

What we need to do is vote for Foulds and Wilson what way we have member in the government To help protect us from the liberals crushing debt.

5/26/2014 7:24:43 PM
jimmyboy says:
Its like the Florida Everglades…up there 300 to 400 kms of super-saturated Florida Everglades type of topography. One billion dollars is nowhere enough money to build a railway or road.

In reality, it might be a decade before the Ontario Government is required to come up with that cash…if ever.
5/26/2014 9:19:14 PM
passlake says:
this was not a leaders debate. it was 2 leaders talking about the ring of fire.

I watched/listened to the whole thing and it was tough to hang on until the end...

I was hoping to hear something about education, or health care, or social services (which got a faint whisper at the end but hardly anything worthwhile), or the environment, or transportation, or....

nothing.. I learned nothing.

thankfully there's a northern ontario heritage party and libertarian in my riding... and of course, a blank "none of the above" ballot is still in the back of my mind..

5/26/2014 10:40:21 PM
Shane Caker says:
Tell me what happened in this "debate" 2 years from now. Nobody will remember that it even happened. Yet it's front page news today. Politics. Yawn......
5/26/2014 11:53:46 PM
mikethunderbay says:
I wonder if people realize that the NDP has zero chance in forming government and as it stands right now may actually see their seat total drop. Tim Hudak or Kathleen Wynne is going to be Premier in Ontario (latest poll says Wynne) and under the Liberal gov't northern ontario has never seen this kind of investment by the province. We have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the province and MCAP just said part of the reason for rising housing prices is because of our stable employment. I know who I will be voting for, it seems very obvious the NDP are hiding one of their candidates as I don't believe she's given a live interview yet, probably because of her performance last election in the debates and her complete lack of education on the issues.
Last thing, the reality in this election is that a vote for the NDP is a vote for the conservatives and 100,000 jobs gone, many of which will be in TBay that will see our unemployment skyrocket to nearly 10%. The choice is clear
5/27/2014 12:02:20 AM
yqtyqt says:
Actually from what I saw, Andrea Horwath handled herself quite well. It would appear to me that she & the NDP have moved themselves a little more to the centre of the political spectrum & thats fine with me. On the other hand, Wynne has positioned herself so far to the left to appeal to the so called "Working Families Coalition". This WFC really is the ultra radical union sector who thinks that taxpayers owe them endless amounts of cash, benefits, pensions & respect. I'd go as far as to say that Wynne is in their hip pocket.

I understand from a few who attended that there was some concern from liberal supporters about Wynne waffling on the gas plant scandals & the size of the public service & whether government jobs would have to be cut.

I know that Mike has his nose pressed up against the lib promises. But I think he is missing out on his assessment of the NDP. Hopefully he was referring to MPAC?

But Mike has subscribed to the lib fearmongering about the loss of public service jobs
5/27/2014 9:51:43 AM
Anon says:
Where is this $1 billion coming from?

Ontario needs to realize that we don't have what it takes right now. Our credit rating has dropped, so now we're paying more for our two hundred and some odd billion dollar debt that grows by nearly a billion every month. We need jobs, but we also need to cut fat. I really don't like what I'm hearing Hudak say. I really like what I'm hearing these two promise. But if we don't start making wise decisions, our taxes are only going to get higher while our quality of life gets lower. If we want to be wholly successful again, we have to make the economically wise decision, and for me, neither of these two are going to take us there. Yes, there will be job cuts. But these are publically funded jobs that are a burden to the tax payer. By transferring these jobs to private positions, we will grow our tax base and gtfo of debt.
We have to at least try to fix this.

There is no good choice this year; but we need to stop maxing out our credit cards.
5/27/2014 1:46:05 AM
yqtyqt says:
Very good points Anon.

Our credit rating has dropped once and the bond/credit raters are positioning themselves to drop it again. Anyone who has have a stitch of common sense knows that it will result in higher borrowing rates. If any person or corporation received a notice in the mail that their credit rating has been downgraded and is about to drop again, I think they would get their finances in order. Apparently our provincial government doesn't even have that minimum stitch of common sense.

But you can't have it both ways. You can't keep spending the lights out and looking for taxpayers to reach deeper and take more for hydro bills. We're at the saturation point.

Getting us out of this fiscal tailspin will be painful. The already bloated public sector needs the same reality check that taxpayers have felt for quite a few years.

Who do you see wanting to make those tough decisions? The ones that the libs can't make. Get out & vote for change in government. You pick who can do it.
5/27/2014 9:07:39 AM
zelig says:
I agree with you, but this situation is similar to a tangled fishing line. The system is so complex and convoluted that trying to untangle it will likely only make things worse. Something done to fix one problem can cause other, bigger problems elsewhere. I think a lot of people are coming to the realization that it's time to cut the line and start all over but I'm sure that there's a 'plan B' already laid out for us and it'll be sold to us as a solution for all our troubles. I don't doubt that the people and corporations benefitting from the current system are going to make out like bandits from the next version. Our only hope is to properly comprehend what is going on how we got here. Learn where our currency comes from, what your birth certificate represents and the difference between laws and statutes.
5/27/2014 12:05:55 PM
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