Feature Article - September 25, 2008
Local campaign comes alive in KaladarBy Jeff Green
At the first all-candidates’ meeting in the riding of Lanark Frontenac Lennox and Addington, Conservative incumbent Scott Reid came under persistent attack from an audience that was dotted with supporters of Liberal candidate Dave Remington.
Only three of five candidates in the riding attended the meeting. Sandra Willard from the NDP joined Remington and Reid, but Chris Walker from the Green Party had vehicle problems and missed the meeting. Walker’s campaign manager, Rolly Montpelier, delivered an opening address in his stead. Ernest Rathwell, from the Marijuana Party, did not attend.
In their opening statements, the candidates stuck very much to the party lines, with Scot Reid stressing his experience in the riding and the establishment of three riding association offices.
Dave Remington stressed his roots in his home town of Napanee, where he has run businesses and served as councillor and mayor, and said he looked forward to meeting with community groups and local organizations to see how the federal government can have a geater impact on people’s lives.
Sandra Willard said she joined the New Democrats seven years ago after being involved in a healthcare union. “This election is about deciding who will look after you and your family first. The Conservatives are protecting corporate interests but who is looking after your interests. Privatization of healthcare is a threat to this country; we need to insure that the system will be kept in public hands,” she said.
Although a variety of topics were discussed, many of the questions were asked directly of Scott Reid.
The first question of the night, which was posed by John McEwen of Verona, concerned uranium production, specifically a promise by Stephen Harper that uranium companies should be more open to foreign investment.
Scott Reid said that in terms of the local uranium issue, he has taken a strong stand against exploration. “The Ontario Mining Act must be changed,” he said. “however, I am not against uranium mining in general and I support the Prime Minister Harper's intention to open up foreign investment in uranium mining companies. It is limited to 49%, so companies would stay in Canadian hands.”
“Not so,” said McEwen, “foreign ownership of airlines is limited to 49%, not uranium companies”.
A Globe and Mail article from September 12 bears out McEwen's assertion. The article says there is currently a 49% cap on foreign investment in uranium mining companies. It reads: “The Tories say they would remove this cap to allow majority ownership, but only for countries that give Canadian companies commensurate rights and benefits — and pass the new national security test they would put in place. "'We will allow [more] foreign ownership of uranium mining and producing provided that such investments meet a national security test and that Canada receives comparable benefits from investor nations,' Mr. Harper said.'
Sandra Willard said the NDP “does not support any kind of investments in uranium or nuclear power”, and Dave Remington said, “Personally I am not a big nuclear supporter”.
There were several questions regarding the recent Listeriosis outbreak. One questioner contended that a change in the federal meat inspection regimen that took place earlier this year was connected to the contamination.
“If it really were the case that the Listeriosis outbreak came about because of a lack of federal inspectors it would be a major issue in this election campaign. The press and Mr. Dion would be on this. but it just isn't the case,” said Scott Reid.
“Jim Flaherty, John Baird and Tony Clement [federal cabinet ministers] were all members of the Ontario Conservative government that fired water inspectors before the Walkerton tragedy, so what can you expect?” said Dave Remington.
“The Walkerton tragedy came about because Stan Cabel was drunk, and didn't do his job,” said Scott Reid.
Arts funding should be dropped – Reid
To a question from Marg Axford of the Cloyne & District Historical Scoiety about whether a plan by the Conservatives to fund a French language foreign radio service is tied to a decrease in funding for domestic broadcasters, Scott Reid made a general comment about government funding for the arts.
“I don't think government should be giving funding to the arts. The arts are lovely, but arts funding is not a life or death issue such as funding for healthcare,” he said.
Dave Remingon said, “I disagree. The arts are amazing, they are who we are, they are part of what I call healthy community. Without the arts you don't have healthy communities.”
Another questioner, John Pariselli, the president of the North Frontenac Little Theatre, asked Reid whether museum or library finding is included under his definition of arts funding.
Scott Reid did not answer directly, but he added context to his earlier comment by noting that he happens to be an opera fan, “but that is a private interest of mine and I don't see why the public should be asked to subsidize my private interest.”
A line of questioning that clearly unnerved Scott Reid concerned a program he has funded himself, using money from an $20,000 MP salary raise in 2001. towards placing defibrilators throughout the riding.
“How many of those defibrilators are located in Frontenac County?” one questioner asked.
“I don't think it is right to put a regional spin on a program like this, which is set up to provide life-saving equipment for people,” Scott Reid said.