Cornwall - Jun. 17, 2011 - On Wednesday evening, June 15, the Stormont Dundas and South Glengarry NDP riding association met at the Navy Veterans’ Club in Cornwall and nominated Cornwall city councillor Elaine MacDonald the candidate in the October 6 provincial election. MacDonald was unopposed in her bid and so she was acclaimed before an assembly of 50 supporters.
MacDonald is serving her second term on city council and ran twice previously for the federal NDP, in 2004 and 2006. Speaking of the three levels of government, MacDonald said running provincially felt like coming home, as though she had been in training for this contest her whole career. As a teacher and executive member of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, her working conditions and her students’ learning conditions were directly controlled by provincial policy, and she experienced firsthand, some of the difficulties that characterize that sector. In her work as co-chair of the local chapter of the Ontario Health Coalition, MacDonald has frequently criticised what she sees as government’s failure to meet people’s needs across the whole spectrum of the healthcare system, whether it be through the endless cycle of bed closures, the 10,000 people waiting for access to a longterm care facility in Ontario and the turmoil in the homecare sector where competitive bidding has led to rationing of care and high turnover and shortages in the workforce.
MacDonald says the conservative alternative to McGuinty’s policies would be disasterous for the province, with a leader who seems more concerned to push buttons than develop policy. His first response to the HST was to say he’d repeal it; then he moved to the NDP position of removing it from home heating and hydro. In the face of public concern over the Green Energy Act, Tim Hudak said he’d kill the deal that underwrites it. Has the hydro debt got you down? Tim Hudak will erase it. Fifteen years after Mike Harris’s commonsense revolution, the NDP’s Macdonald says we can’t afford this kind of reckless extremism . We have to build on what’s come before, repair what’s not working the way it should and realign government policies so they address people’s needs.
MacDonald says the NDP is making affordability the touchstone of its campaign. The leader, Andrea Horwath, whose career as a community organizer led her to municipal politics in Hamilton before she won election to Queens Park and eventually the leadership of the NDP, has a clip-and-save rather than a tax-and-spend mentality. Like the leader, MacDonald takes issue with what she calls “fee creep” whereby government services are beyond the reach of any who can’t absorb the downloaded cost. Access to physiotherapy and eyecare was taken away at the same time the government added the health tax/premium. In 2010, parents contributed over half a billion dollars in user fees, that even extended to core subjects like English.
People are finding it increasingly harder to cope and the government persists in its corporate tax cut policy which it funds through the HST, which leader Horwath calls the wrong tax at the wrong time, because it forces the ordinary consumer to finance the tax cuts for the big banks and corporations, which have yet to demonstrate that they have increased their workforces or made strategic investments infrastructure. The NDP would stop the tax cuts which would see Ontario’s corporate tax rate go from the competitive 14% of 2010 to 10% by 2014. The party would reserve its tax cut rewards for the real job creators, small businesses and startups, one job at a time.