An Interview with Stephen Mazurek, Liberal Candidate

February 22, 2010

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

North Leeds is a wonderful place to live. It is an absolutely beautiful part of the riding. I know people from all over Ontario love the wonderful waterfront, fantastic shops and great dining in Westport. It’s no wonder many people, especially seniors and young families, are choosing to move to this community. I suspect this increased demand is what has driven up the property values in that area.

Smiths Falls has been through a challenging couple of years; there is no doubt about that. We need to bring good-paying jobs back to that community and I believe we have the right economic plan and the right tax package to do it.

Mr. Harper and Mr. McGuinty have jointly created the 13% Harmonized Sales Tax. Would you explain a bit about what the HST will mean to voters in Leeds-Grenville?

The HST is just one element of the Liberal government’s comprehensive tax package that, taken together, will create 600,000 new jobs, increase business investment and leave more money in people’s pockets.

We are beginning to see signs of economic recovery, so governments have a choice. They can either choose to act, helping businesses create new jobs — or choose to do nothing, stand back and hope for the best. I am proud to say the Liberal government has chosen to act.

Moving to a single, value-added tax like the HST allows businesses, large and small, to be reimbursed for the PST they pay on the items they buy every day to run their business. Decreased costs for business will mean lower prices for consumers. In fact, a study by TD Bank showed that 95% of business cost savings will be passed on to the consumer within 3 years.

While businesses start hiring as their tax burden shrinks, people in Leeds-Grenville will also benefit from the $10.6 billion in permanent, personal tax relief which accompanies the HST legislation. We have already lowered the personal income tax rate on January 1st, cutting income taxes for 93% of Ontario taxpayers. Ontario now has the lowest income tax rate in all of Canada on the first $37,000 of income.

And while it is true that some prices on some items will go up, it is nowhere near what’s being suggested by some of my opponents. In fact, 83% of the things we buy will have no additional tax after July 1st.

Things exempt from cost increases because of the HST include basic groceries, prescriptions, clothing, children’s clothing and footwear, books, home cable and telephone service, cell phone charges, municipal water bills, your morning coffee and newspaper, restaurant meals, furniture and appliances, movie tickets, mortgage interest charges, prepared food under $4 and automobiles, to name just a few.

And finally, the people of Leeds-Grenville will also benefit from permanent, targeted tax cuts offsetting the increases on the remaining 17% of purchases.

Starting this July, and an integral part of the HST legislation, the new, permanent Ontario Sales Tax Credit will provide up to $260 for every low and middle-income Ontarian, paid out quarterly like the current GST credit. We are also doubling the Seniors’ Property Tax Credit to $500, helping seniors stay in their homes longer. And finally we also created a new, permanent Ontario Property Tax Credit that provides up to $950 for residents of homes, whether they rent or own.

We need a strong economy to support the high quality public services like hospitals and schools that we’ve all worked so hard to build. The government’s plan adds up to more jobs, greater prosperity and a brighter future for Leeds-Grenville.

In a recent article Mr. Runciman ripped Mr. McGuinty for his green plan, claiming that Hydro will have to pay out astronomical amounts to homeowners with solar panels. He claimed McGuinty’s numbers are “the stuff of fantasy”. Can you provide a more balanced look at the Green Initiative?

I think we can all agree that the days of cheap energy are over. Whether because of the economic or environmental impacts, we must turn to new sources of energy, harnessing the natural gifts of the planet – the sun, the wind, and our crops.

It is always amusing to listen to the Tories discuss things like climate change and energy production. Runciman is now part of a government that seems to deny that climate change is even a fact, and was part of a government, under Harris, that fought to keep coal plants open. This attitude was wrong then and is even worse now.

The Liberal government knows how critical this issue is, and has responded. We have already reduced Ontario’s use of dirty coal by one-third and will reduce it by another third next year. This will clean the air we breathe and improve our quality of life.

We also recently announced that we are protecting an area in Northern Ontario larger than Prince Edward Island from logging, which in addition to the Green Belt and our 50 Million Trees Program, will go a long way to turning back the clock on environmental destruction.

Putting the environmental reasons aside, I believe Leeds-Grenville is uniquely positioned to harness our natural elements to create the highly-skilled jobs we want right here at home.

While solar and wind power are seen by some as a pipe dream, the reality is the green energy revolution is happening right now and it is happening all around us. I was pleased to visit Upper Canada Generation Limited with the Premier just last week. That is a great example of a company that is creating the kinds of jobs we want by using leading-edge technology to turn the natural bounty of this riding into usable energy.

We must remember that leading-edge technologies often have upfront costs. I remember how much more computers cost 10 years ago compared to what they cost today. Wind turbines, solar panels and ethanol processing plants are no different. I think it’s important that we look at the overall cost, both environmental and economic, rather than just the specific rate for generation of a new energy source. While an initial feed-in tariff is needed to encourage investment in these right kinds of technology, I am confident that over time we will see wind turbines and solar panels dotting our landscape and benefitting both the environment and our pocket books.

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