Ontario Votes 2011 -New Democrat Grant Robertson 0
SUSAN HUNDERTMARK QMI AGENCY
Tuesday, September 27, 2011 6:11:15 EDT AM
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As he travels to the corners of the Huron-Bruce riding, NDP candidate Grant Robertson is hearing the message that it’ll be a tight three-way race between the NDP, Liberals and Conservatives to decide the next local MPP on Oct. 6.
“There’s a lot of growing support for the NDP in this riding,” he says. “It’s okay to be NDP in Huron- Bruce -people are now looking at the party in a different way.”
Robertson says he’s hearing that voters are fed up with the political mud-slinging that is occurring at the local level during the current election campaign, with some party supporters interrupting all-candidates meetings and attacks and smears on local candidates.
“It’s sad to see that these political games have devolved to the local level. I’m really proud to be on Andrea Horwath’s team because she’s stuck to the issues with a modest, practical platform,” he says.
Robertson says he’s hearing from voters that affordability is a big issue in this election, with 60 per cent of Ontario residents living from pay cheque to pay cheque.
“People are hurting and worried about the future. They like our plan of taking the HST off of hydro, home heating and gasoline bills. I’ve been talking to seniors on fixed incomes who worry that they won’t be able to pay their bills,” he says.
That’s why job creation and “growing and maintaining quality jobs locally” is one of Robertson’s priorities and a plank of the NDP platform with the promise of a $5,000 tax credit for each job created in Ontario and a $3,500 tax credit for job training.
” This applies across the board, whether you’re a larger company like Westcast or Bruce Power or a local convenience store -any new hires apply,” he says.
Robertson says the NDP also wants to get energy prices under control, pointing to a local plant that is paying $40,000 a week in energy costs.
“If we continue with the current energy system, there won’t be any jobs left in the area,” he says.
While Robertson says he supports green energy, he says the Green Energy Act has pitted community against community and neighbour against neighbour and adds the NDP wants to sit down and talk with municipalities about how to create some community input into the positioning of industrial wind turbines in their regions.
“I like to say it takes an incredible amount of incompetence
and arrogance to mess up some-thing as positive as green energy,” he says, adding that the NDP supports a more diverse, smaller scale green energy system that would provide funding for home retrofits for the installation of rooftop solar panels or smaller wind turbines on locally-owned cooperatives.
He says it’s important that local municipalities have some say in how green energy operates in their communities.
“We want to talk to communities rather than impose something from Toronto. In rural Ontario, we’ve had more than enough things imposed by the provincial government. It’s incumbent on government to start listening to local communities,” he says.
Robertson says health care continues to be a big issue in Huron- Bruce with a lot of residents in the riding who still don’t have a family doctor.
He says the NDP wants to forgive the student debt of new doctors who will commit to work in an under-serviced rural area.
He says he’s hearing a lot of concern locally about keeping and maintaining emergency departments in rural hospitals and adds the NDP wants to eliminate the Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) and reduce the six-figure salaries of CEOs in the healthcare field.
“We spend an incredible amount of health care money on bureaucracy and that (limit on CEO salaries) is more than sufficient in my mind,” he says.
Robertson says the NDP wants to increase the number of long-term care beds in Ontario by 20,000 to eliminate the waiting list into longterm care facilities and free up the more hospital beds for the patients who need them.
He adds that creating more longterm care beds will end up creating more construction jobs.
Robertson says he is one of the original voices supporting risk management for farmers, an issue he says cannot be claimed by any one political party since it was created by a grassroots movement among Ontario farmers.
“Anyone who claims that one party is responsible for risk management is false,” he says.
Robertson says the NDP wants to examine spending at the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and determine how much is actually getting to the farmers.
“We want to create a strategic plan for agriculture in Ontario with benchmarks for the next five to 20 years. Agriculture is the number one industry in Ontario surpassing the auto industry and yet there are no long term plans and very little attention paid to it,” he says.
Grant Robertson and his wife Sarah Slater have three children. He is a library supervisor in Lucknow and Ripley and lives on a chicken and beef farm near Paisley.