A conversation with Gord Brown MP, Federal Conservative Candidate for Leeds-Grenville

April 12, 2011

What has the Economic Action Plan done for Leeds County?

EAP is more than just infrastructure.  Underneath that there are different categories,  Infrastructure, Stimulus Fund, and RINC, or  the Recreational Infrastructure Canada Fund. There have been infrastructures in Gananoque with Brock Street rebuilt, County Roads 2 and 5, in Landsdowne there was work.  A lot of infrastructure.  Money to the Recreational Infrastructure Fund as well.  Over a hundred million dollars in total, 20 million federal in two projects alone.  (For a detailed list check https://rodcroskery.wordpress.com/2011/04/13/so-where-did-the-stimulus-funds-go-in-leeds-grenville).

Does Leeds-Grenville pay a penalty for being too politically predictable?

No. You’re assuming it is predictable.  I’m not.  I don’t believe it’s predictable.  I think in every election people in Leeds and Grenville make up their own minds.

 The G20 Summit, contempt for Parliament and the census mess make me very nervous about the future of health care in the hands of a Harper Government.  What assurances can you offer the nervous progressive conservative voter?

You are concerned about health care.  Our government has increased health care spending 33% since we became government in 2006.  Health care, 56 billion dollars of federal transfers to the provinces.  The current health accord ends in 2014.  There is currently a 6% accelerator through to 2014.  And our party in this election has committed to a 6% increase each year ongoing after 2014.  The demands on our system, especially with an aging population, continue to grow.

That’s going to cost money.

Absolutely.  It’s a priority of Canadians.  I think that we have good accessibility to health care in our region and we want to keep it that way.

Our auto insurance rates are up because of theft and bogus accident claims. But the penalties for these crimes are very light.

We have been getting tough on crime, and there’s a reason for that.  As you point out, costs for everyone are going up for these crimes.  Our opponents believe that we shouldn’t be putting people in prison.  I believe that we should get tough on those who commit criminal offenses and especially tough on those who commit violent offenses.

What’s the cost?

What’s the cost to the victims who have had their lives ruined?  They have left a trail of destroyed lives in their wakes.

On the other hand, if the current crime bills go through, someone with six marijuana plants on his property will go to jail.

If you’re growing six plants, you are trafficking.  Six plants is a lot of marijuana.

Kids?

If you’re trafficking, you’re selling.  Six plants isn’t for personal use.

What’s the difference between a liberal and a conservative?  Tom Flanagan said it’s that conservatives believe people can’t change.

I disagree with that.  If you’re talking about someone who is a criminal, I believe that we can rehabilitate some criminals by providing programs that allow them to learn skills and gain employment upon their release.

But your government closed the prison farm at the Pittsburgh Institution in Joyceville.

There are many rehab programs within the penitentiary system. This farm was one of them.  But only a small percentage of prisoners coming out of that program were finding employment in agriculture.  In fact, I have not met any farmers who have hired men released from that program.  The abattoir program is still in place.  Bruce Wallace of Wallace Beef operates it out of Joyceville.

In a perfect world we would be able to rehabilitate all criminals.  But if violent criminals who can’t be rehabilitated are locked up, the streets are safer.

In 1972 a CEO made forty times the average wage of his workers. NDP leader David Lewis called them “corporate welfare bums.”  Today CEOs in Canada make on average 155 times the wage of the average Joe, and Stephen Harper calls them “job creators.”  What’s up with that?

Let’s use for example, Proctor and Gamble.  It employs a lot of people in Brockville.  The CEO makes a lot of money.  That’s between the shareholders and the company.  Obscene CEO compensation is not fair.   But who is to determine what fair is?

Why does he call them job creators?

If a company is investing in our country and creating jobs, they are job creators. Over the last 25 years with very high corporate taxes, many jobs were lost because companies left.  Had we had lower corporate taxes during that period, we might have lost fewer jobs.  We were competing with lower-tax jurisdictions.

People forget that not only do we have federal corporate taxes, we have provincial corporate taxes.  Even though I would never support the provincial Liberal party, even finance minister Dwight Duncan agrees that lower corporate taxes are better for Ontario.

So that’s why finance minister Jim Flaherty said that Ontario is the worst possible place to invest?

Well, the provincial government shifted gears after that and reduced corporate taxes.  Manufacturing is now increasing in Ontario.  It’s making a bit of a recovery.  We’re the only party in this election that does not want to raise taxes on job creators.

How can a Conservative government eliminate the deficit, buy jets, and build prisons without massive cuts in government programs?  Most of us are worried about the future of health care and those jets seem like a waste of money.

First of all, the improving economy will generate more tax revenues.  We’ll look to find efficiencies, and continue to work on the different advantages that Canada has to generate the revenue we need.

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