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Ottawa–Vanier candidates explain their ambitions

The Questions:

1. Explain your party’s platform.

2. The cost of post-secondary education is a big election issue for students. What is your party’s stance on the affordability of university and college tuition fees in Ontario?

3. Accessibility to post-secondary institutions is another barrier faced by high school graduates. How does your party plan to make post-secondary education more accessible to those who want to attend university or college?

4. One of a student’s biggest fears is investing thousands of dollars into their education, only to not be able to find a job after graduation. How will your party work toward building jobs and supporting economic growth in Ontario?

5. What are you party’s plans to make Ontario a greener province?

6. Only 52.8 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot in Ontario’s last provincial election, with those aged 18–24 voting less often than their older counterparts. What would you say to a student who isn’t interested in voting in this election?

 

Dave Bagler – Green Party of Ontario

1. Our key priorities are jobs, health, [and] education, but we’ll be taking a more community-focused, long-term approach to platform policies over a four-year mandate. We’ll also be ready to take on new problems as they surface.

2. What we’d like to see and what we put in our platform is that we want to freeze tuition … for the next two years.

For the two years after that, we want to lock in to the rate of inflation while maintaining the universities’ and colleges’ budget. If you just drop tuition fees and don’t replace that revenue, you are just trying to make everyone’s education a little bit worse.

We also want to put more money into funding apprenticeships, co-ops, and similar types of things like that that are educational opportunities.

3. When you look at where the jobs are coming [from], more of the bulk of high-school graduates should be going to college … [especially] if they are geared toward more of these practical applications.

University is important, too, but we need to begin using all of our education resources [and] all of our post-secondary options. Rebalancing through our spectrum of post-secondary options is the first step in this direction.

4. When you look at our economy right now, I don’t feel that we should be trying to recreate last century’s jobs. Last century was about labour productivity. How much can you do per man-hour?

This century, it is more about energy productivity. How much can you do per kilowatt? We need to shift the focus and look at where jobs are going to be coming from. We need to start making investments in those sectors.

We need to follow the B.C. model where they cut payroll taxes, cut income taxes, and bring in a carbon tax. What they have seen is that they have created a lot of jobs out of that.

5. We’ve been traditionally fond of the environment. The Green Energy Act in Ontario is a good start, but there are many problems limiting successes.

I think [an energy focus] would be a benefit to Ontarian’s environment and economy. If we prioritize small- and medium-sized energy projects with a more decentralized grid … it reduces line losses. We also need to put a price on carbon, but starting with a low price. We’re the only party so far that has said we’ll do it.

6. One thing is that we push people to vote too much. I think people have just tuned out to the ‘Go Vote’ campaigns.

It’s an expression of self. I think that people are willing to vote for someone who they are excited to vote for [instead of] voting out of fear.

 

Emmanuel Houle – Familiy Coalition Party

1. The Family Coalition Party stands for stronger families, which in the long term will mean a stronger Ontario. We want to help local businesses by reducing taxes. We want to supply intelligent energy supplies. We also want to provide options in education, as well as health care opportunities for seniors.

2. We believe that post-secondary education should be affordable. We can’t make it fully subsidized as that means taxes would increase, but at the same time, we should at least consider a freeze on educational tuition. After a freeze of a few years, then we could think about keeping up with the inflation rate.

3. I’m a student myself and I know how hard it is to make ends meet. When you are a student you are trying to work … it is a challenge. Not everyone has the possibility of doing so [when] keeping up with a full-time job and full-time studies. This is why we have to implement accessible post-secondary education. Lower fees related to post-secondary education will help this process.

4. The average student graduates from undergraduate studies with a debt of around $30,000. How we will help them find a job so they can pay back their student loans or other people is by motivating the local economy.

We want to encourage small and medium business by taking excessive taxes away and helping them invest in their own business and into local employment. The Family Coalition Party proposes to establish alternative educational programs. These educational programs would create jobs for [new] teachers more specifically.

5. Right now we are losing money. The government is paying 42.4 cents per kilowatt for the energy coming from the solar farm in Sarnia and they give it to the consumer at maximum 10 cents a kilowatt.

We should be opening the trade barrier with Quebec [in terms] of hydro. They are actually selling their hydro to the United States at 2 cents a kilowatt. The [Ontario] Liberal Party has put in the law of anti-trade between Quebec and Ontario and it needs to be taken down to allow [sharing] of natural resources, as well as electricity.

6. This is [due to] the fact of not respecting democracy in Canada. Elected officials have been listening to what Canadians have had to say but not acting upon it. This is why people are walking away from politics, because their voice is not respected.

The Family Coalition Party is a young party established in [1987]. We want to win people’s trust, people’s confidence. That is why we are going to work really hard to acquire this trust. We are going to prove to the people that we are worthy of respect and worthy of people’s trust. We are going to work hard to put [into action] what people have in mind.

 

Fred Sherman – Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario

1. Our platform is on Changebook.ca, which represents the input of over 110,000 Ontario residents—the greatest survey of our time in 15 languages— which basically tells us how to bring Ontario back from the dire straits that we are in right now.

The plan is to put money back in pockets [of citizens], guarantee services, and clean up the waste in government after eight years of higher taxes, waste, and a general loss of touch with hard-working families.

2. During the last eight years of Dalton McGuinty, we’ve seen tuition fees raise by 30 per cent, give or take … Basically, it is our plan to get Ontario kids in school.

Affordability and the economy are the centre of our plan. We are making sure we bring realistic, not high in the sky, promises. [Instead, we have] a practical approach to getting folks in school.

We’re also going to raise the threshold on financial support and make it more accessible for middle-class families to send their children to a college or university.

There is about $30 million that goes out of the country to get students from other countries. We want Ontarian students to have a first crack at that, so we are going to redirect that money toward our students.

3. We are going to create up to 60,000 more post-secondary spaces. We have many hard-working families who may not be able to qualify for [the Ontario Student Assistance Program].

After years of paying taxes into the system, we think that many of our kids should have that opportunity [of getting an education]. Definitely, the adjustment of the financial threshold will make it more accessible for parents to send their students to college or university.

4. In the last few months, Ontario has led Canada into job loss. What we are going to do is [implement] our five-point plan.

One: We are going to treat energy policy as economic policy. [Energy] is chipping away at the disposable income of our hard-working families. Number two: We are going to train 200,000 more skilled workers by expanding the apprenticeship system. We want to create better qualified, better trained professionals that would be better equipped to get a job. Number three: Let’s reduce taxes on job creators. Now we’re talking about the small businesses, the engine of our economy. Number four: Let’s eliminate job-killing red tape. Right now there are $5 billion in red tape cost for businesses. Lastly: Let’s lower taxes on families so they have the confidence to spend again.

5. We are absolutely committed to the environment, but what we don’t agree with is Dalton McGuinty’s track record and his plans. [His] plan is costing us millions, if not billions, of dollars. We are going to focus on proven technologies [such as] natural gas, hydroelectric, and nuclear. We are open to alternative energy sources such as solar and wind.

6. I could argue that their future opportunities are at stake in terms of job creation, and in terms of what is going to turn the economy around. We have a plan to bring much needed change and much needed relief for Ontario families.

On Oct. 6, there is a clear choice that families and students have. We are going to put more money back in [people’s] pockets; guarantee the services they deserve, like health care and education; and lastly, we are going to clean up the waste and inefficiency in government.

 

 

Madeleine Meilleur – Ontario Liberal Party

1. Our platform will help to make Ontario the most attractive place in the world for jobs by preparing our workers for the next economy, not the last one. It will be the province with the most educated workforce so that companies will want to come to Ontario. [Ontario will be] the healthiest place in North America to grow up and grow old, and the leader in North America in clean, healthy growth, and smart resource conservation.

2. Since the freeze in 2005–06 to this year’s tuition (2011–12), university tuition in Ontario has increased by 29 per cent and 33 per cent for colleges.

This compared to the [Ontario New Democratic Party] who raised tuition by 50 per cent in five years and the [Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario] who raised university tuition by 71 per cent and college tuition by 64 per cent. We will help lower and middle class families with a 30 per cent undergraduate tuition reduction every year.

Recent Statistics Canadadata suggests that Ontario has the highest tuition in the country. What that doesn’t take into consideration is that we also have the most generous student assistance plan in the country and plans to make it even better.

Per student subsidies have increased during our mandate. Our overall investment in colleges and universities has very significantly increased.

3. When we took office in 2003, successive [Ontario New Democratic Party] and [Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario] governments had abandoned colleges and universities, leaving them with too many students jammed into old, outdated buildings while allowing tuition to skyrocket.

We made sure students had access to the loans and grants they needed. We doubled student assistance and added [a] $150 grant for technology and books. We invested $4 billion in building new classrooms, libraries, labs, and other buildings and campuses all across Ontario. We doubled apprenticeships in Ontario. We will create 60,000 more spaces in addition to the 200,000 new spaces we created.

To help more students get a great education close to home, we’re going to build three new, leading-edge undergraduate campuses. To reduce costs, we already provide grants for lower-income Ontario families.

4. Ontario has replaced the jobs lost during the global recession and then some.  So far in 2011, Ontario has created more full-time jobs than the rest of Canada combined.

Our plan to create jobs and growth is about creating the best, most educated workforce so that companies will want to come to Ontario. Our Innovation Agenda has helped create a new and strong pillar of our economy.

Today, innovative industries like biotech and the entertainment and creative cluster are creating jobs in exciting, new fields. We will create incentives to triple new start-up companies in Ontario and will increase our support to help businesses access new markets.

5. David Suzuki said, ‘I’m offering an endorsement of what Mr. McGuinty has done, absolutely. I think this is a great plan. It’s what we have supported and encouraged and I think any party would be foolish to talk about abandoning it at this point.’

The Ontario Liberal plan builds on the strong foundation of such successful strategies as the Greenbelt and Green Energy Act. Now that we are back on track, it is time to extend our lead when it comes to clean energy, sustainable growth, and job creation.

We will become North America’s leading maker of electric vehicles. We will close all coal-fired plants by 2015, making us one of the first places to do so, and will move forward on clean sources of energy like wind, solar, and pumped storage that will create jobs. We will promote local food production and distribution. We will continue to reduce water pollution and make our beaches clean.

6. Please vote.  Our platform provides you with an opportunity to shape your future.  Our platform will ensure significant investment in our most valuable resource: You.

 

 

Paul Étienne Laliberté-Tipple – Ontario New Democratic Party

1. We are looking to make life affordable. We are going to create and protect jobs, which are key for [students] as they are going to go out on the [job] market [for positions]. We are also going to ensure that health care works for [Ontarians], whether they are working or as students.

Finally, the last element of the platform is living within our means, ensuring that our budget is balanced by 2017.

2. Graduate and undergraduate students saw their tuition rise by almost 30 per cent and essentially the Liberals just recently announced a 30 per cent rebate. They are basically doing what they should have done at the beginning of their mandate.

At the end of the day, we want to make sure that education is affordable and that there are job opportunities with new graduates. What we are looking to do is to freeze tuition fees for college, undergraduate, and graduate students over the course of the next mandate.

We are going to compensate the institutions for those lost revenues by taking the money that we’ve allocated for the education budget … and we will give [that] to the universities. We are also looking to eliminate the interest on the provincial portion of the student loan.

3. One of the big issues that should be looked in for sure is [to ensure] that there are more professors [so we can] decrease the student to professor ratio.

We [will] provide universities with money that [will] allow them to build more infrastructure, more classrooms, and also give them the ability to hire more professors.

It also gives the opportunity for increased admission from people coming out of high school. Students see that tuition fees are very high and that university education is really expensive. Just the cost of living at university is fairly astronomic.

If we have in place all the elements I said earlier on … I think that will encourage people to go to university or technical colleges. It has to be a two-tier approach.

4. We are still in a bit of an economic rut … but I think we are moving in a direction that will be favourable. I think for most students what they have to do is … see the big picture.

Ontario is very much a production province. The more policies that are implemented and affect those jobs, the more likely our economy is going to suffer; all the services that are used to aid those types of industries [also suffer].

Our policies are [heading] in the right direction. We do plan to help out with infrastructure. We plan to reduce the tax rates of small businesses and increase the tax rate of large corporations. It is not to the detriment of those large corporations as our tax is still lower than our surrounding provinces.

5. If you look at the NDP, it is a party that has been pushing the environmental issue for a very long time. Our position in regards to green energy policies is that we’re pushing for greener infrastructure.

We are also giving Ontarians the chance to actually retrofit their home, so they don’t have to be as reliable on the electrical grid. In that retrofit program, we are giving the possibility for people to have a $10,000 credit for the initial construction of [retrofitting].

6. I think it is people’s civic duty to go out and vote. They are stakeholders and they pay taxes. I don’t understand why people wouldn’t vote.

Granted, some people think politicians are liars and are cheats, but we try to give the best impression at the door with these people. We’re not like that. We have your best intentions at heart.