Jobs, hydro top issues for Lambton Kent Middlesex riding


Jobs and the cost of power are the two big issues the candidates for the Lambton-Kent-Middlesex riding are hearing about as the provincial election approaches.

Conservative MPP Monte McNaughton says voters are telling him they are sick of the Liberal government in Toronto “dictating” solutions for rural Ontario and are looking for a change.

McNaughton is touting the party’s One Million Jobs plan, but admits if the Conservatives take power after the June 12 vote, there will be jobs lost, too. “We lost over 300,000 manufacturing jobs in the last 10 years, but at the same time the Liberals created 300,000 more government jobs,” says McNaughton. “Without a doubt, in order to balance budget were going to have to reduce the size and cost of government.”

That worries NDP candidate Joe Hill and his supporters. “When you got (Conservative Leader) Mr. Hudak saying he has million jobs, and the first step is to cut 100,000, that doesn’t sit to well with people who have been laid off from a factory job and has to go to a minimum wage job and support the family,” says Hill adding the public sector unions are scared of Hudak’s “race to the bottom” in the job market.

Liberal Mike Radan also pans the Conservatives plan saying if the party wanted to create jobs, it should have supported the Southwest Economic Development Fund which provides $80 million for local businesses. The plan went through, but without the support of the Conservatives.

“If you don’t partner with business …I don’t know how you are going to compete with other jurisdictions,” he says noting the economic benefit of the fund could have been felt sooner had the Conservatives not opposed the bill.

And Radan says the most recent Liberal budget, which was not brought to the legislature for a vote before the election was called, had $2.5 billion in economic development stimulus as well which would have benefited hard hit regions.

Hill says jobs aren’t the only problem in the riding – he’s hearing from many voters they’re deeply troubled about the rising cost of energy – particularly power rates. McNaugton agrees, blaming the Liberal’s Green Energy Act and drive to put up wind turbines in rural areas for increasing costs.

The NDP has already promised to remove the HST on residential home heating as a way to reduce power bills. The Conservatives plan to stop subsidies for Green energy projects which the party says will save $20 billion.

That could effectively put an end to any further wind energy projects – an issue which has stirred up much controversy in rural Ontario.

But Radan says he “surprisingly” hasn’t heard much dissent about the wind turbines saying there is a  small group of radical protestors that are against the wind turbines

…but a lot of other people are very pleased the Liberals were able to stop burning coal for a cleaner environment.”

Joe Hill has another view of the issue; “The wind farms are a way of rewarding Liberal supporters. in most cases. The whole thing is a shemozzle,” he adds saying municipalities should be given back the control of planning the developments.