Can­di­dates dif­fer on tran­sit needs

Con­way seeks GO bus ser­vice im­prove­ments, while Smith pushes for pas­sen­ger rail ser­vice

The Peterborough Examiner - - Front Page - JOELLE KOVACH EX­AM­INER STAFF WRITER

Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive can­di­date Dave Smith ar­gued at a de­bate on Thurs­day that both in­creased freight train ser­vices and a new pas­sen­ger rail ser­vice are needed “im­me­di­ately” in Peter­bor­ough — but his NDP op­po­nent, Sean Con­way, said more spend­ing on the GO bus is his pri­or­ity.

At a de­bate at the Hol­i­day Inn, or­ga­nized by the Peter­bor­ough Cham­ber of Com­merce, Smith said com­pa­nies such as Quaker and Un­imin Mines de­pend on freight ser­vice to do busi­ness.

If Via Rail in­tro­duces a lo­cal pas­sen­ger train ser­vice as proposed, Smith said, then the rail lines would be re­fur­bished – which would ben­e­fit com­muters as well as busi­nesses.

“We have to have pas­sen­ger rail ser­vice im­me­di­ately, to save that (freight) rail ser­vice,” he said.

But Con­way was skep­ti­cal. “Via isn’t nec­es­sar­ily af­ford­able trans­porta­tion for any­body,” he said, adding that he’d pre­fer to see in­creased spend­ing on the GO bus ser­vice to Peter­bor­ough so the bus runs more of­ten.

About 40 peo­ple at­tended the de­bate on Thurs­day af­ter­noon. Smith and Con­way were joined by Green party can­di­date Gianne Broughton and Lib­eral in­cum­bent Jeff Leal.

There are three other can­di­dates in the elec­tion who weren’t there: Ja­cob Cur­rier (Lib­er­tar­ian), Rob Rod­dick (Tril­lium party) and Ken Ran­ney (Stop Cli­mate Change party).

Many of the ques­tions on Thurs­day cen­tred around busi­ness.

Leal de­fended the gov­ern­ment’s choice to in­crease the min­i­mum wage, for ex­am­ple, say­ing a per­son should be paid ad­e­quately for an hon­est day’s work.

But Smith said On­tario has shed 58,000 jobs since the min­i­mum wage hike, and that many peo­ple work­ing full time for min­i­mum wage have seen their hours dwin­dle to 28 weekly.

“You can’t saddle an elec­tion prom­ise on the backs of small busi­ness – and that’s ex­actly what hap­pened,” he said.

Mean­while Leal also de­fended the Lib­eral gov­ern­ment’s spend­ing – even if it has meant a debt of $312 bil­lion.

“Many gov­ern­ments look at deficit spend­ing to make in­vest­ments on the cap­i­tal side,” he said, adding those cap­i­tal projects – such as the Kawartha Trades and Tech­nol­ogy Cen­tre at Flem­ing Col­lege, for ex­am­ple – ben­e­fit young peo­ple.

Leal noted that for­mer Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive premier Bill Davis, in of­fice from 1971 to 1985, in­vested heav­ily in found­ing the prov­ince’s col­lege sys­tem.

But Smith said that’s out­dated think­ing.

“Back then the cell­phone wasn’t even in­vented, and no one had ever heard of the in­ter­net,” he said. “I’m deal­ing in 2018, not 1970.”

Mean­while the can­di­dates were also asked how they would rein in hy­dro costs.

Broughton said the Green party would re­frain from spend­ing on the re­fur­bish­ment of nu­clear power plants – they would con­sider buy­ing power from Que­bec or Man­i­toba in­stead.

She also took great ex­cep­tion to Smith’s com­ment that nu­clear en­ergy ought to be a pri­or­ity be­cause it’s “green” en­ergy.

“Nu­clear power gen­er­a­tion is not green,” she said. “Ura­nium is one of the most dan­ger­ous el­e­ments in the world – we do not know how to dis­pose of it.”

Con­way said the NDP would “re­pur­chase” Hy­dro One from pri­vate in­ter­ests in a bid to try to re­duce elec­tric­ity costs.

“You can’t sell off the golden goose,” he said. “We need to main­tain the pub­lic ser­vice.”

Smith said they PCs would slash hy­dro prices by 12 per cent im­me­di­ately by putting Hy­dro One’s div­i­dends back in the hands of ratepay­ers.

He said that in the early 2000s, elec­tric­ity in On­tario was cheap.

“Now we have the most ex­pen­sive (rates) – and it’s busi­nesses that are pay­ing,” he said.

But Leal re­minded the crowd there was a large black­out in 2003 prompted by a lack of trans­mis­sion ca­pac­ity.

The Lib­eral gov­ern­ment in­vested $50 bil­lion in the trans­mis­sion lines so a mas­sive black­out will never hap­pen again.

“It is the rein­vest­ment that has driven the cost (of elec­tric­ity) up­wards,” he said.

The next de­bate – on cli­mate change — will be held Tues­day at 7 p.m. at Trin­ity United Church hosted by For Our Grand­chil­dren and LEAP Peter­bor­ough.

CLIF­FORD SKARSTEDT/EX­AM­INER

Peter­bor­ough-Kawartha Green­party can­di­date Gianne Broughton re­sponds to a ques­tion next to Lib­eral in­cum­bent Jeff Leal , NDP can­di­date Sean Con­way and Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive can­di­date Dave Smith at an all-can­di­dates meet­ing hosted by the Cham­ber of...

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