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Why you should NOT vote for Harper – Part 3

This post is especially for those of us who live in Ontari-ari-o!

The Politics of Cynicism has been strongly spread around the hiways and biways of our fair Province. Billions of dollars have been promised to a broad range of interests in the hopes that pork barreling will buy a few precious votes – especially in battleground ridings around the 905 and 519 area codes.

But do these promised handouts make up for how the Harper government has treated Canad’s most populous province over the past couple of years? Without getting into Harper’s approach to Eastern Canada before he became the Grand Poobah of the ReformCons (build any firewalls lately Stevie?), here are a few examples of how the Harperites have dissed my fair province.

Jim Flaherty – Finance Minister:

…However, he had some tough words for his home province of Ontario, where a Harris-Decima poll released Friday suggested the public supports McGuinty’s view that Ottawa is giving short shrift to troubled manufacturers.

The poll found that 56 per cent of those surveyed supported the premier’s view that Flaherty is too focused on the oil-and-gas industry.

Asked about the poll, Flaherty responded that the Liberal premier “doesn’t get … that you must reduce your business taxes over time.”

“Their business taxes are the highest in Canada. If Mr. McGuinty thinks that’s good for the manufacturing sector in Ontario, he’s wrong.”

Flaherty said the policies are doing “long-term” damage to the province’s economy.

“It discourages investment in the province of Ontario,” he said. “If you’re going to make a new business investment in Canada, and you’re concerned about taxes, the last place you will go is the province of Ontario.”

More Flaherty:

A political gravy train or a shrewd plan for better passenger rail? Based on an internal report by the Ontario government, it would seem that Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s pitch in last week’s federal budget for a passenger rail service between Toronto and Peterborough is a bad idea.

Mr. Flaherty’s supporters – notably Peterborough Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro – point to Trent University, Quaker Oats and General Electric as some of the major employers in Peterborough that would benefit from the scheme. But Mr. Flaherty’s fans are careful to avoid dwelling on the fact that the train service would run through his Tory riding – and also that of his wife, Christine Elliott, who is a Tory member of the Ontario legislature.

I blogged about this a while back.

So what about Harper himself? The Premier of Ontario and Harper aren’t exactly fishing buddies and every time Mr. McGuinty announces any sort of initiative (e.g., the agreement between Ontario and Quebec on greenhouse gas emissions), Harper and his posse are right there – tearing it apart… partisanship to the max!

John “pitbull” Baird on this progressive agreement:

Federal Environment Minister John Baird said the talks between Charest and McGuinty are more about “political posturing” than cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

“I saw a great press conference,” Baird told the CBC’s Don Newman on Monday in Ottawa. “What the premiers are talking about is much in the line of what we’re doing, but it’s just talk.”

Take for another example the legitimate complaint by the Premier that Ontario continues to be a contributing province to our equalization system despite the fact that we are now – by definition- a “have-not” province.

Harper et al say “suck it up!” “Create a better business climate like we did!”

And now the ReformCons come hat in hand, asking for a majority. And I’m worried that, due to strong support in rural areas of the province (like my old stompin’ ground, sniff, sniff) combined with a Grit/Dipper/Green split of the left vote in swing ridings will indeed deliver Ontario.

And with Ontario coloured blue, so goes the nation.


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One Comment

  1. Truth in Trusts says:

    Let’s take a look at the facts regarding Del Mastro’s and Flaherty’s choo choo to Peterborough. Flaherty spending our money again for the choo choo that also happens to go through his riding.

    1) VIA says 80 passengers per day paying $15 for a one way ticket ( $2400 per day for a return ticket)
    2) Del Mastro says 903 riders per day
    3) VIA says they need to spend up to $150 million to bring the rail line up to standard
    4) VIA says they need to hire 3 engineers and spend $125,000 each just to train them
    5) Del Mastro says $3.7 million per year in revenue and $200,000 in profit
    6) VIA says that with less than 100 passengers per day they would lose $2,000,000 per year
    7) 44,000 riders ( 104 returns trips per weekday or $660,000 in annual revenue at $15 one way) used the line when it was discontinued in 1989

    Now do I believe the car salesman or VIA?
    Let’s spend $150,000,000 for 80-100 people to use the train and lose $2,000,000 a year?
    Sounds like a good deal to me.

    VIA, Ottawa at odds over Peterborough line – Canada – VIA, Ottawa at odds over Peterborough line
    Railway’s estimates of passenger travel far lower than MP’s

    April 15, 2008
    Bruce Campion-Smith
    Ottawa Bureau Chief

    OTTAWA–Just a month before Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced his government’s plan to resume rail service to Peterborough, VIA Rail was saying it had no plans to restore service on a route it deemed a money-loser.

    VIA’s internal projections say that passenger service between Union Station and Peterborough would attract fewer than 100 riders a day and would lose as much as $2 million a year, according to documents obtained under the Access to Information act.

    “VIA Rail has no immediate plans to reinstate the service between Peterborough and Toronto,” Christena Keon Sirsly, VIA’s chief strategy officer, noted in a letter on Jan. 29, 2008.

    Yet just a month later, Flaherty’s budget announcement included $500 million for transit projects nationwide. Catching many off guard, Flaherty said re-establishing the rail link between Peterborough and Toronto’s Union Station – and through his Whitby-Oshawa riding – would be a priority.

    His commitment to the line was based on the rosy projections of Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro (Peterborough), who has been actively lobbying for the resumption of passenger rail service to his community.

    In his report on potential ridership, Del Mastro predicted that two trains a day in each direction would lure 903 riders a day and turn an annual operating profit of $236,720, a rarity for any commuter service.

    He said Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon has asked VIA to explore restoring rail service to communities that had lost it.

    “Thus the Peterborough—Toronto rail corridor is well-positioned to have its service restored,” Del Mastro said in his report on the line’s future.

    But a VIA estimate done last year paints a far gloomier picture of the rail line’s financial prospects. VIA predicted that just 80 passengers a day would ride the service – one train in the morning and a return trip in the late afternoon – paying $15 for a one-way ticket, according to VIA documents obtained by the Toronto Star.

    That would add up to 58,400 passengers a year, up from 44,000 riders who used the line in 1989 before it was discontinued.

    But to break even, ridership would have to at least triple, VIA says.

    VIA also said there are significant financial hurdles to getting train service up and running, including up to $150 million in construction work to bring the rail line up to standard.

    As well, three new engineers would have to be hired, each costing $125,000 to train, and new rail equipment would have to be purchased to serve the new market.

    However, Keon Sirsly left the door open to a partnership with GO Transit on the Peterborough service. “It should be noted that the nature of the contemplated service is primarily addressing the commuter market and GO is likely best placed to provide it,” she wrote.

    Keon Sirsly said she was aware of Del Mastro’s study, which estimated annual revenues of $3.7 million and a profit of $200,000, but said she was unable to “comment on the source or accuracy of these estimates.”

    Now that Flaherty has gone public with the Tory plans to resume service to Peterborough, VIA Rail officials are sounding less definitive about the line’s prospects, saying only that ridership numbers need to be examined.

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