An Interview with Steve Armstrong, Provincial NDP Candidate for Leeds-Grenville

February 14, 2010

Property values in Westport are higher than in Smiths Falls.
What’s going on in North Leeds?

Smiths Falls has lost several of their biggest employers. That would probably be the main reason.

Mr. Harper and Mr. McGuinty have jointly created the 13%
Harmonized Sales Tax. Its implementation weighs heavily on voters’
minds. What’s your take on this tax reform?

It is wrong. At a time when Ontarians are being laid off in record numbers and even people that are working are going further in debt, our leaders, Harper and McGuinty increase the people’s cost. To tax hydro, gas and other energy costs is unbelievable. These are items that people have no choice but to purchase. People have to heat their homes and drive to work.

The Progressive Conservatives under Bob Runciman initially supported the HST but then backtracked because of public outrage. Mr. Runciman and the Progressive Conservatives still believe it is a good idea but just not right now because of the economy. That is crazy, if the economy improves, he thinks it is okay to tax the working poor. Despite Mr. Runciman not “following” Mr. Harper’s wishes, he still was rewarded with a Senate job.

The NDP, both federally and provincially, have always stood side by side on this and are against the unfair tax. The least the Liberals and Conservatives could do is exempt items that people have no choice to purchase: hydro, heating fuel, and funerals, to name a few.

Mr. McGuinty’s 50 Million Trees Program sponsors the planting of
trees on privately owned land in Ontario. From your perspective as a
candidate to represent Leeds-Grenville in the Legislature, what do you
think of this and other green-shift plans?

Planting trees is obviously a good idea, but I really do not have enough information on this. I didn’t know that Mr. McGuinty had any green plans.

Should there be a bounty on coyotes?

Generally if coyotes or other wildlife become a problem, the locals (usually farmers) take care of it themselves.

What issues do you see emerging in Leeds-Grenville over the next ten years?

Mostly the lack of good jobs available and our healthcare is continuing to be under funded. Free trade has decimated Leeds-Grenville. As long as the Conservatives and Liberals continue to make new free trade deals, you can bet there will be almost no manufacturing jobs. Without a manufacturing base, Ontario will continue to be a have-not province.

Free trade has eliminated thousands of jobs. It has allowed hundreds of corporations to move to Mexico and the United States. We have to go back to Sir John A. MacDonald’s original rule: if you take natural resources out of Canada and then sell us the finished goods, we are going to put a big tariff on these products. The tariff will be lifted if you build the factories here. That is how all the major US companies came to Canada – Ford, GM, Chrysler, DuPont, Black and Decker, Hersheys, etc.

We had 95% free trade before NAFTA was signed. What this agreement really allowed, was for companies to just leave if they want to. Before, if they left, their products would face a big tariff coming back into Canada. Now, there is no reason for the companies to stay.

We have high waiting times at Brockville General Hospital and high infection rates. Our young people will continue to leave because of the lack of good jobs. Our communities will only be offering low paying service jobs.

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