Tomorrow’s the day where Ontarian’s head to the polls and elect new Members of Provincial Parliament. Today’s final feature interview with the Freedom Party’s representative, Jonathan Reid, caps off our 2014 provincial election series where we spoke with local candidates: Mark Bain (PC), Robert Kiley (Green) and Mary Rita Holland (NDP) and Sophie Kiwala (Liberal). My sincere thanks to all of the candidates and their respective teams for ensuring responses were both thorough and submitted in a timely fashion. Finally, my thanks to our readers who not only assisted with developing the questions that were posed, but also for continuing the discussion by way of submitting thoughtful comments and rebuttals to responses provided. Read on, get informed and make your vote count tomorrow!
1. For the first time in 19 years, Kingston and the Islands will have a new voice representing them at Queen’s Park. Why do you think you are the best candidate for job? What unique experience and insight sets you apart from other candidates and makes you the best choice for voters?
The Freedom Party and I are the only ones who have proposed a balanced budget, and have put the numbers out for everyone to see. Every year since 2011 we have submitted an opposition budget recommendation to Queen’s Park that we know to be a prudent plan that takes the necessary steps to fix Ontario’s failing economy and allow Ontarians the access to services they need. The other parties show a lack of understanding of basic economics and are unaccountable. They run on promises they do not fulfill and their values are not fixed. Freedom Party has remained consistent in its goals and commitments since its founding.
My pledge to Ontarians is to fight for a working economy, cheaper power, and the Freedom to purchase services that they need that the Government refuses to provide them.
2. Middle and lower-income families throughout Ontario have been under increasing financial pressures due to the high cost of living, including utilities and basic food costs. What relief, if any, can you promise to provide those who are experiencing difficulty making ends meet?
One of the main planks of FPO’s platform is to fix the problems that we have with our electricity costs in this Province. Ontario has the most expensive electricity in North America leading to unaffordable hydro bills, a manufacturing sector that is fleeing the province, high unemployment and a stagnant economy. Our electricity costs are projected to rise 42% over the next 5 years alone. That is an amount that grossly exceeds inflation.
Freedom Party will pull the plug on the contracts the Liberals have made with predatory companies that take advantage of Ontarians by being paid amounts far above market rates for their electrical generation. A Freedom Party administration would put price first for Ontarians, while still avoiding coal based power which produces smog. There are Clean, Green, and cost effective solutions for Ontario’s hydro needs in hydroelectric power, which our geography is uniquely suited to.
Not only will this bring down the cost of your utilities bill by large amounts, it will also bring industry back into the province amounting to more jobs – better paying jobs – for those who are currently unable to find them.
FPO also proposes the elimination of the Provincial Income tax introduced by the PCs. This tax is essentially a disincentive to produce and contribute to the GPP, as the more you contribute to the provincial economy the more severely you are punished for increasing your productivity. Besides being morally wrong, this is poor economics. It discourages the growth of the province, and there are other options for Governments to raise funds without having such a detrimental effect. A tax levied at the point when monies are earned also disincentivizes fiscal prudence and financial security. Unlike a sales tax, an income tax prevents you the choice of saving or investing your earnings before the point of taxation, making individuals less financially independent and more reliant on the Government. Abolishing the tax would allow Ontario’s families to make decisions about their own money, and encourage economic growth to return to this province.
3. What is your position and rationale for/against the recommended closure of KCVI and QECVI respectively? If elected, how do plan to support local students and respect the educational needs of Kingston’s neighbourhoods?
Due to the demographics of our populus, there are currently fewer individuals in the age brackets that require the services of our education system. If we have fewer students, there are many situations where it makes sense to streamline our systems for an economically efficient delivery of the services we provide. However, the current funding system makes it so that extra funds are available or set aside only for the construction of new schools when there may be more cost effective options. FPO can and would address the issues with money being set aside specifically for new builds when there are better options, but ultimately a lot of power is held by the school boards, whom we also have a chance to elect.
4. Many local constituents are concerned about the possible relocation of a gaming facility from Gananoque to Kingston? While it is acknowledged that this issue is the subject of a referendum during the next municipal election, what is your position regarding this transformative issue? (Do you believe the benefits outweigh the concerns or vice versa?)
I am ideologically opposed to the Government’s use of force to obtain a monopoly in any sector. Therefore I am opposed to any OLG venture in its current form. Ontario should not create revenues by running fixed systems designed to fleece participants, and disallowing anyone else from running a system where players might experience better odds.
5. Do you (and your party) support improving democracy by allowing Citizens to use the preferential voting system that provincial political parties use to democratically choose a winner? Is this sort of electoral reform something you would consider addressing before the next election?
I believe democratic reform is something to be striven for. Currently Ontarians place very little faith in Government and the parties that they see as their choices who are likely to gain power. The past referendum was poorly implemented however, as it only gave us the choice between our current system and one that an appointed board saw fit to propose. A real referendum would offer Ontarians many choices between systems, not just what the bureaucrats see fit to dangle in front of us to provide the illusion of choice.
6. If you are elected the next Member of Provincial Parliament for Kingston and the Islands, what immediate challenges will you focus your attention on? Further, what do you assess as being your top local priority, and how you propose to ensure it is successfully realized/managed?
My focus in Opposition would be to raise awareness about the debt problem that Ontario has and attempt to pass balanced budgets.
Currently the Third biggest item in Ontario’s budget is interest on the debt- and this is with historically low interest rates. When interest rates rise, and they must, we could see it overshadowing spending on healthcare or even education, and become entirely unable to pay it off without cutting all government programs entirely while still heavily taxing citizens- an austerity solution which would be devastating to both the local and provincial economies. The Freedom Party does not want to face an economic eventuality where that is the only option.
A 2012 report on Provincial Solvency and Federal Obligations, published by the MacDonald-Laurier institute shows that if policy does not drastically change, that within a 20 year window Ontario has a 42.9% chance of defaulting on its debt, and within a 30 year window a 79.3% chance.
Local priorities here are entirely in line with provincial ones, and it is by far the most pressing issue in the province. When Ontario topples, Kingston will fall along with it. The stores on Lower Princess have been shutting down more and more recently, and local industry is fleeing as well.
Freedom Party will insure the future of commerce and jobs in the community and the province by lowering costs to individuals and firms by eliminating the production taxes, and fixing a broken hydro system that skins our consumers by paying out unprecedented amounts to government favoured firms. This means more jobs and more money in your pocketbook.