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Simcoe Grey Provincial
Free Press photo by Tony Veltri
Simcoe Grey all candidates meeting - Pictured above, seated, from left, David Matthews, NDP; Lorne Kenney, Lib; Jesseca Dundan, Green; and Jim Wilson, PC, take questions from the floor last night.

Wilson says Honda 'can move these machines'

Posted May 27, 2014

Simcoe Grey MPP Jim Wilson told an all-candidates meeting audience last night that during a recent tour of the Honda operations in Alliston with PC leader Tim Hudak, the automaker's officials taking part in it, asked that they pass along to Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne, "not to take us for granted."

Mr. Wilson made the comments while answering a question about his party's plans to lower corporate taxes if elected as a means of generating private sector jobs.

"Corporations are teachers. It's your pension funds. It's anyone that has mutual funds. Corporations are people, and they will hire people if the tax environment is right, if the red tape environment is right, if the hydro bill's not too high," he said, adding, "Tim and I toured Honda recently, and they said, 'you should tell Kathleen Wynne, don't take us for granted. We can move these machines.' Their (Honda) hydro rates have skyrocketed, they're almost three times higher than any other jurisidction we have to compete with."

Joining Mr. Wilson on stage last night at Banting Memorial High School, in front of a half-filled audience, were Jesseca Dudun, the Green Party candidate; Lorne Kenney, Liberal; and David Matthews, NDP.

Most of the floor questions and focus from the candidates revolved around the PC Party's "Million Jobs" plan, and the promise to eliminate 100,000 public sector jobs, which Mr. Wilson explained would occur mainly through a "natural attrition" rate.

In one particular exchange, Mr. Wilson was asked to speculate where Simcoe Grey's projected share of the public sector cuts would come from.

"You're the MPP who has been in office (since 1990), It's likely that Mr. Hudak will turn to you for advice on where the job cuts will take place. We also know that you have a strong commitment to the hospital sector so you're unlikely to make recommendations in that area. Which sectors do you think are going to receive most of the cuts of the 860 in Simcoe Grey?

Mr. Wilson said, the cuts amounted to less than 10 per cent over four years, returning the size of the public sector to 2009 levels.

"A 5-9 per cent natural attrition, so theoretically in two years, nobody has to be fired," he said mentioning the 637 agency boads and commissions that could be dismantled, including Drive Clean - a program established by the government he served under Mike Harris.

"We want to get rid of the LHINs, they're spending far too much money on bureaucracy and not enough on front line health care. We want to get rid of the Ontario Power Authority. There are several thousand people there that make over $100,000 a year. When I was energy minister that body didn't exist and it's not necessary. We've been honest with you telling you where we think we can cut, but we can do it by attrition if we have to."

"What rubbish," countered Mr. Kenney. "You cut 100,000 jobs, you can't do it by attrition. And if you do do it by attrition, you're just basically not hiring 100,000 people. Who's going to do the work that they would do? Next, services are going to get cut. Where's the plan when we don't have those people? It's foolishness, and I want no part of it."

Mr. Matthews, replied with, "Let's face it, 100,000 jobs to Conservatives, that doesn't mean anything. All these people in the Conservative party are all working, they're all taking food home. Who would give a damn? The one thing I find amazing is when Mr. Hudak came up with this policy, he was going to create one million jobs over eight years, then it was six years. He was going to cut 100,000 over the next two years, now I believe its escalated up to four years. I don't think he really knows what he's talking about. And the whole point of the matter is, they know what they're going to cut and they know what programs are going to be cut, and they're too damned embarrassed to admit it because if they do, they know they won't get elected."

Ms. Dudun was most forceful on the night when the first question from the floor asked the candidates their positions and feelings abouts increasing burdens on post secondary school students and their families.

"We need students to stand up and say that they're tired of it. We need students to get together and make a stand and say we're not going to take this anymore. We're not graduating from college to go into an entry level position with thousands of dollars worth of debt, and OSAP isn't going to cut, and our loans aren't going to cut it."

"It took me nine years to pay off my loan from the University of Toronto," said Mr. Wilson, but the fact of the matter is, I had three jobs all through school. Young people now tell me they just can't get a job to even help out with the bills. So we're focusing on jobs like a laser."

Ward 8 councillor Jim Stone asked the candidates whether they would commit to providing more grants, particularly through gas tax revenues, to municipalities to help pay for infrastructure improvements.

"I can't promise you gobs of new money," said Mr. Wilson. "We're going to ask all our partners in the first two years to do what Paul Martin did in the 1990s: reducing the size and cost of government, getting hydro rates down, cutting red tape, starting to live within our means."

Other highlights in quotes from the night:

Jim Wilson: "I certainly am a believer in climate change. There's lots of evidence for it all over the world, particularly Canada, Canada's north, but no we won't be introducing new taxes.

Jim Wilson: "100,000 in our world, can be more than made up by growing the private sector. Paul Martin did the same thing in Ottawa. And he was considered up until Jim Flaherty,  and some still consider Paul Martin the best finance minister this country ever had, he did it by cutting down the size of government, cutting taxes on the job creators in the private sector, lowering their hydro bills, cutting red tape, and growing jobs where they should be. As Jean Chretien famously said one day, not everybody can work for government, and not everybody should work for government."

Jesseca Dudun: "We don't have a platform to cut 100,000 jobs so I can't speak to that."

Dave Matthews: "Our party will stop all expansion of windmills. We want to check the contracts that we have to see what is actually in them. Wind solar and water are all important parts of a hydro system, but they have to be managed so that we can take full benefit from them."

Lorne Kenney: "When the Liberals took over from the Conservatives, we had blackouts, brownouts, dirty coal, problems with transmission. And there was an artificial ceiling put on hydro prices that had to be removed. We now have enough generating capacity, and can look forward to more stable pricing."

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