Friday, December 19, 2014

Campbell, Rafferty set to tackle issues

The new year will be a busy one for both local MP John Rafferty and MPP Sarah Campbell as they continue to tackle several issues to ensure the best for the residents of Northwestern Ontario.
The issues at the top of Campbell’s list are winter highway maintenance and the cost of hydro.

“Given the fact that the rates are expected to go up 42 percent over the next five years, there are a lot of people concerned,” she remarked.
“And plus, it’s not completely clear what the Liberals plans are going to be in terms of distribution, like LDCs, which is also a concern for people living in Fort Frances proper,” she added.
And as for the winter highway maintenance, Campbell wants the minister of transportation to take some action.
“It should be a relatively easy issue to solve,” she reasoned.
“Right now, I’m certainly doing everything within my power to make sure the minister is well aware of the issue, why it is an issue, and help come up with some suggested solutions,” Campbell pledged.
“But it really is up to the minister to take action to make sure our roads are safe to travel on in the winter. And I haven’t been seeing that so far. . . .
“We’re still seeing these issues across the northwest and quite poor maintenance that has resulted in accidents and, sadly, fatalities,” she noted, though adding she’s hopeful the minister will act on this.
Another issue on Campbell’s radar in 2014 is the decision of the Liberal government to expand public transit in the greater Toronto/Hamilton area—and what that will mean for people living in Northwestern Ontario.
“Toronto right now, they suffer from pretty extreme gridlock and we’re all sympathetic to a point,” she conceded.
“But it’s going to cost about $50 billion [to remedy] and the Ontario government is planning on financing that over 25 years, so they are looking at about $2 billion additional revenue that they need to collect every year.”
Campbell said a couple of suggestions to do this has been to increase the HST, possibly across the province, by about one percent or increasing the price of gasoline by adding a gasoline tax that could be as much as 10 cents/litre.
“That may happen across the province and so I’m very concern,” she stressed.
“I think it would be punitive for people living in Northwestern Ontario to have to pay more when we, for the most part, don’t have public transportation and rely on our vehicle to get around.
“To increase the price of our gasoline or the price of our HST is penalizing us when we don’t really have the other option,” Campbell argued, saying she knows she needs to influence this decision before it’s made, rather than after.
“I will continue to raise this issue because I don’t think that would be fair for people living in Northwestern Ontario,” she vowed.
Rafferty, meanwhile, continues to push for protection of lakes and rivers in Northern Ontario, and right across Canada, as well as infrastructure funding for smaller communities.
“The [federal] government is not inclined to think about smaller communities when they think about infrastructure, when they think about transit, when they think about public transportation between communities,” he remarked.
“I’m trying to get that on the government’s agenda. So that is one of my ongoing projects.”
Rafferty also will be fighting for seniors and veterans, whom he says the Harper government continues to attack.
“The finance minister is not interested in following any advice from the provincial finance ministers about retirement or preparing for retirement,” he charged.
“This government has a mental block as far as that goes,” he added, citing the attacks also have been on those on E.I., especially seasonal workers.
“I think it’s just simply wrong that they try to balance a deficit budget, which is of their own making in the first place, trying to do that on the backs of veterans, seniors, and those who are unemployed and those who need help,” Rafferty stressed.
“So those battles will continue in the new year, politically.
“So I’ll just keep at this government, and continue to try to build those relationships with the government and the other opposition parties, to get consensus on those sorts of issues to push them through,” he vowed.

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