An Interview with Ray Heffernan, Leeds-Grenville Provincial Liberal Candidate

September 19, 2011

Dalton McGuinty’s running on his record.  How is this a good thing?

When the Liberals took office after the Harris/Eves years, our health care system was a mess.  We had long wait times, our nursing staff was demoralized, and there was a doctor shortage.   Under the McGuinty Government we have hired nurses back, built new hospitals and renovated those which had fallen into disrepair.  The major rebuild of the hospital in Smiths Falls is a good example.

We are encouraging new doctors to locate in rural areas, and we have gone from having the longest surgical wait times in the county to the shortest.

With whom would you rather have lunch, Rob Ford or Margaret Atwood?

Definitely Margaret Atwood, because she thinks.  It’s as simple as that.  Margaret has long been renowned for her opinions and writing about things that a lot of contemporary authors shy away from.  Rob Ford, on the other side, hasn’t read any of her books…

What has the McGuinty Government done for Leeds-Grenville in the last eight years?

 Burnbrae, Trillium Pharmaceuticals, and Northern Cable come immediately to mind.

It sounds as though Tim Hudak is trying to make Ontario into a hate state like Arizona with his comments on the $10,000 business grant.

Hudak is talking about immigrants jumping the queue, and that is absolutely not the case.  These are hardworking Canadian Citizens already working in Canada, but who need upgrading in order to meet Canadian certification standards in their fields.  We’re talking about getting doctors and pharmacists and engineers out of a cab or a restaurant kitchen and into the careers that they have already spent many years to do.  The meanest part is that Hudek is villainizing immigrants, blaming them for using our tax dollars, taking our jobs, when that is absolutely not the case.

We are putting together job programs targeted to the specific areas.  In Eastern Ontario we are doing the Eastern Ontario Development Fund.  We realize that job creation is not a one-size-fits-all task.  We have to tailor it to fit the very diverse needs of the people of our province.

What is the EODF?  It’s a fund to support job creation and entrepreneurial spirit because it recognized Ontario is economically depressed.  Funding for the new egg-grading station at Burnbrea came through the EODF, for example.

I have seen bad government and government that disregards peoples’ needs and their history.  I spent a lot of time in Belarus and have seen what a dictator like Lukashenko can do to demoralize a nation.  When our leaders start making divisive, mean-spirited comments just to gain points in an election or in public opinion polls, people lose faith in our system.  Whether they are new Canadians or Canadians who have been in this country for over five generations like me.

With T.V. and Internet, Facebook and all of our social media, we have gotten to a point where we care less about the truth and more about the sound bite.  And that is not the country or province that I brought my children here to experience.  In our family Canada Day is as big a holiday as Christmas.

It surprises me that no one in the media (except me) mentions the 50 Million Trees Program which the McGuinty Government started in 2007. 

Which is huge.  It’s had a massive impact on our green presence in Ontario.  Ontario is absolutely healthier because of this program.  The small amount spent on this project is restoring the health of our kids.  We have fewer kids on asthma inhalers now than ten years ago.

Winston Churchill once said, the best argument against democracy is to talk to a voter for five minutes.

You get what you want from our government because you are involved.  “I don’t get anything because I am the average person.”  “What have you ever asked your government for?”  “Nothing.”  “Then you get exactly what you have asked for.”  Our government can’t function without each of us being part of it, and when we sit back and vote apathetically, or vote not at all, or vote our prejudices and our wallets, we are going to get the government that we deserve.

People in Leeds-Grenville have complained for decades that we are ignored by Toronto, that it‘s going downhill, yet we have sent the exact same party to Queen’s park for over nine decades.  How can you expect a different result when you constantly do the same thing?

Anything to say to the readers?

 Without a solid family unit, you can’t go anywhere in politics.

 As a lifelong political junkie I used to watch Jean and Aline Chrétien when he got up to speak.  She would give him a look and you could see the fear and nervousness melt away and he would give the most phenomenal speech.

I look at Connie and my kids when nervous, and everything changes.  Politics in our family has been very important.  In this election my older daughter will get to cast her first ballot as a Canadian.  She is so excited.

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