Friday, 30 September 2011

October 1st...

I am distressed by the arrogance of certain Provincial Liberals with their farcical attempts to focus the taxpayer's attention away from real issues and now to make matters worse, it looks like they are not even interested in taking the high road in the election with their TV attacks on Andrea and Tim.

The original 'someone named Tim' ads brought to us by Liberal back-room operators Marcel Wieder and Patrick Dillon of the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council ended up being a thinly veiled attempt to discredit a large block of campaign donators; no doubt causing apoplexy at tax and spend Liberal fundraising headquarters.

Cowardly, disgraceful and sneaky, the ads; ostensibly paid for with union dues were a disaster for mainstream Liberal supporters well before the election campaign got underway!

Considering that Dalton McGuinty and the Liberals have doubled the accumulated debt to around $235,000,000,000; the largest in Ontario's history, one would think that surely the people of Ontario would question his leadership on that alone. Why would I assume this? Because we did the same thing to Bob Rae and the NDP in the mid-90's when he almost bankrupted Ontario, and to this day, people continue to bring up Rae when the subject of  Horwath and the NDP ever having election success. Andrea held her own, even though Hudak and McGuinty were obviously gentle with her at the debate but it's no secret, like Hampton before her, she has little chance of ever winning based upon the Rae experiment. Perhaps they are thinking of her more as a partner?

As incredible as it sounds, Ontario is now a have-not province and, still the Liberals are only behind the PC's slightly with a smoothe McGuinty promising something new everyday to catch up. Never mind the lies, the scandals, the lies, the boondoggles, the lies; all of it doesn't matter because Dalton is teflon; nothing sticks to this guy. We in Ontario love to complain about the Liberals and their lies, but we are quick to re-elect them because apparently the other parties are suspect, too! So it is not as if we actually like Dalton, we just don't know if we can trust Tim Hudak and Andrea Horwath.

Will this be an election of choosing the right government, or about choosing one that doesn't smell as bad as the other?

Already there has been much controversy, with the Liberal plan to give tax credits to companies that hire skilled workers that have immigrated to Ontario at the expense of Ontario-educated workers and Horwath promising to raise Corporation Tax that may finish off whatever manufacturing we have left. Couple that with the Union attack ads being aired by Working Families and the Teacher's, it is sure to be a knuckle- busting fight to the it should be!

Maybe when all is said and done next Thursday, can the old "let's blame Bob Rae for ruining Ontario" be laid to rest?


Thursday, 29 September 2011

I was going to hold a little discussion about voter apathy, but no one was interested!

Is it ignorance or apathy? Hey, I don't know and I don't care! Do these famous words by Jimmy Buffett sum up the the other half of the voters in Oak Ridges-Markham? It is said that roughly 50% won't bother voting so, being the curious type, I was going to hold a little discussion about voter apathy, but no one was interested! So, being determined, I asked a few questions, promising anonymity and what I heard was very disturbing! It appears that voter apathy can be traced back to three reasons.....

Distrust Politicians - distrust of politicians has reached 'epidemic proportions', driven by specific factors like scandals and malfeasance. For too many area residents, the question for the October 6th election is not whether to vote for Dalton McGuinty or Tim Hudak or Mike Schreiner or Andrea Horwath. Instead, the question is, “Who cares?” Citing reasons from lack of interest in politics to lack of trust in the candidates, many voters just don’t plan to become involved. “It really doesn’t matter who wins,” is the popular refrain. “It’s going to be the same old thing.” says another. “I try to stay away from that as much as possible,” said another. “Politics is just too difficult... I feel like a lot of times they’re just saying things people want to hear" said another. "They’re not saying things they actually believe in or know to be the truth.” said another. On a positive note, one said they would be more interested in voting if voting was not an automatic right, but a status contingent on passing an exam designed to demonstrate understanding of the political system. "Look at it this way,  you wouldn't trust an untrained person to drive a car, so why are we allowing the ill-informed to drive the Province?" Others say politics "should be a required high school module based on current events and economics to appeal to those less knowledgeable about government; with almost complete apathy toward politicians." What say you, candidates?

Distrust Pollsters - the political pollsters are being accused of turning the 'prediction of political results industry' from a science into an art. At a time when all kinds of science appear vulnerable to skepticism and challenge; climate science, medical science, economic analysis, even the scientific data in Canada’s census, political pollsters are feeling the heat too. “Skepticism is growing, increasingly, everywhere,” said a pollster whose own firm shook up the business earlier this month with a sharply written assault on what it sees as more questionable 'innovations' from competitors. “Some marginal pollsters count on your ignorance and hunger to make the news to peddle an inferior product. Others are using your coverage to ‘prove’ that their untried methodology is the way forward for market research in Canada. Instead of being their own biggest skeptics (which is what pollster training instructs), they’ve become hucksters selling methodological snake oil,” says another pollster. “All of this MUST stop. We are distorting our democracy, confusing voters, and destroying what should be a source of truth in election campaigns; the unbiased, truly scientific public opinion poll.”

Distrust Media - far too many voters say they have little or no trust in the media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly. "Instead of reporting the news, too many in media are suspected of showing their bias, thus alienating the very people they shouldn't...their viewers and subscribers," said one! "Few trust the internet for valid information and have to rely on experienced journalists who have an intrinsic duty to report the news...not make it up on the fly! When the voter suspects bias, the natural reaction invariably is to automatically do the opposite," said another! Which is as it should be, as the virus of instant awareness is upon us, a virus that may well wipe out the propaganda anachronisms first, then go airborne and eliminate even the non-traditional media outlets. At this most critical time, there will no doubt be some in the media who may be frozen on the sideline as this once in a lifetime historic opportunity runs by on the open field. Others will embrace the new reality to everyone's benefit! While the lure of turning news into more eye balls may well be a powerful motivator, it behooves media professionals on all sides of the discussion to establish and enforce standards to live by...come hell or high water!

Across York Region's six ridings, less than 1,200 voters have attended the twelve debates so far! Dismal indeed when you consider that we have 1.4 million residents! Has the time come for those who influence the decision-making process to take responsibility before we lose the other those who value their citizenship?

A letter to the editor from 10 year old....

My name is Owen, i'm 10 years old, I live in Toronto, i'm in grade 5 and I get good marks in math. Although I don't read the newspaper very much, I do get it handed to me sometimes when stuff about kids is written.

On Saturday, I read that "Queen's Park rolled out a new financial literacy curriculum" because "it's evident parents aren't doing well financially" with "60% of those 18 to 29 years carrying some debt; more than 1/3 owing $10,000 or more" and the "average Canadian is $100,000 in debt. That's twice as much as 20 years ago!" This I didn't know.
I guess they don't think we will 'do well financially' either so this subject will start with kids in grade 4 to teach us about saving our allowance and other stuff.  
Then I read another newspaper article and it said that "Queen's Park annual budget deficit is $16.3 billion dollars," as in $16,300,000,000 and the "accumulated debt exceeds $235 billion dollars," as in $235,000,000,000. When I asked my family who was going to pay all those zeros back, they said it would be up to me and the other kids.

Is this true?


Wednesday, 28 September 2011

About Our Candidates in Oak Ridges-Markham Riding!

Brian Weller

BY Brian Weller | BLOGGER

Oak Ridges-Markham
About our candidates in Oak Ridges-Markham.........
 Hi, my name is Brian Weller and i'll be your Oak Ridges-Markham community correspondent for Speak Your Mind, a forum for commentary, debate and conversation around issues affecting YOU in the coming Provincial election. Oak Ridges-Markham voters are fortunate to have some excellent candidates to choose from; all asking for YOUR vote to become our next MPP. Hopefully by promoting discussion, participation and engagement, each of us can make an informed choice as to who will best represent our interests in Queen's Park! For a little about me, I live in Markham with my wife and we have four grandchildren. Although I once ran for election as a local ward councillor, I am not a card-carrying member of a political party. I love to ride my Harley and when i'm not, I love to fact, i've been known to contribute to a few newspapers, primarily about the interaction between politics and economics and what impact history has in shaping both. I'll be asking the candidates YOUR questions so feel free to share your ideas and feedback by sending them to....
Pollsters are predicting that only half of the eligible voters will bother to cast their vote in the coming election and we can't afford a dismal showing. Decisions made by our next MPP will have an effect on YOU so the following is a little background information for each candidate. Each week, i'll bring YOUR issues forward and you'll know where the candidates stand on what is important to YOU!

 Your candidate's bio.....

Green Party..........Trifon Haitas - was born in Greece and raised in Toronto, Trifon grew up in Don Valley East, and recently moved to Oak Ridges – Markham.Trifon is the founder of Green Planet, a social network with over 2800 active members and owns and operates a media company that creates news and entertainment. Trifon, a documentarian, editorialist and honourary member of the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada was granted the organization’s medal for distinguished services. He is also a recipient of the NEPMCC “Honoris Causa” award for promoting equality, respect for human values, human rights, cooperation and understanding amongst the members of the various cultural groups existing within Canadian society. In the 2007 Provincial Elections in Ontario, Trifon ran as the official Green Party Candidate in the Toronto riding of Don Valley East. His Green team successfully earned 2300 votes, increasing the Green vote by a factor of six compared to the previous provincial elections.
NDP.........Joe Whitfeld, an elementary school teacher formerly lived in Stouffville. Joe wants to focus on rebuilding the middle class and a responsible NDP government in Ontario, a province where two out of three Ontarians do not have a pension plan, a province that has chosen renewable energy sources over nuclear energy, a province where not only do we support unionized workers, but we support any man or woman that seeks to earn a decent wage. Joe was nominated for the Premier’s Award as Ontario’s best new elementary school teacher. He lives in Markham with his wife and three children and will be moving to Stouffville in November.
Liberal.........Dr. Helena Jaczek was born in England and came to Canada at age 12. Helena received her medical degree and Masters of Health Science from the University of Toronto and practiced medicine at the Etobicoke Medical Centre and Women’s College Hospital in Toronto. Serving as Medical Officer of Health and the Commissioner of Health Services for York Region for well over 18 years, Helena's accomplishments did not go unrecognized. She received the Distinguished Service Award from the Association of Local Public Health Agencies and honoured for her Medical Leadership in York Region by receiving an award “In Celebration of Women”. Elected as the Member of Provincial Parliament for the riding of Oak Ridges-Markham in 2007, Helena has served as Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Health Promotion, and is at the present, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Environment. Her background in environmental planning was beneficial to the Ministry of Environment as in 2005 Helena received an Award for Environmental Planning from the Canadian Institute of Planners. Currently, she is the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of the Environment and has served as the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Health Promotion. Helena sits on the Cabinet Subcommittee on Health, Economy and Social Policy and most recently was appointed to serve on the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs. Helena was a member of the Standing Committee on Mental Health and Addictions and played an integral role in the expansion of Seneca College’s King campus and the creations of the Navigating the Journey to Wellness: A Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Action Plan for Ontarians report. During Helena’s term, the Markham Stouffville Hospital expansion began and GO Transit announced the extension of its rail service into Gormley.
Progressive Conservative.........Farid Wassef is a long-time resident of Richmond Hill and Stouffville and his family has lived and worked there for nearly 40 years. He obtained his Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy in 1989 and went on to run his family’s business, the local Guardian Houston Pharmacy in Stouffville. Farid has been recognized for his commitment to patient care and public healthcare.   He has been awarded the Mortar Pestle Award of Merit, the Commitment to Care Award in Patient Care, Outstanding Service Award in Patient Self Care, and the Reader’s Choice Awards for Best Health Services by a pharmacist.  Farid is also the co-author of the book, Breaking the Age Barrier: Strategies for Optimal Health, Energy and Longevity which was published in 2003. Farid was named Canadian pharmacist of the year in 2006. An avid community volunteer, Farid takes pride in mentoring students and other pharmacists. In addition, he has been an outspoken advocate for better health services.  Farid wants to ensure that government makes healthcare and education its top priorities, keeps costs down and improve the quality of care for Ontario families. As a member of the Tim Hudak’s Ontario PC Team, he champions lower taxes and smaller government. He and his wife, Peggy, have two children, Nicholas and Kacie.
Ontario Libertarian Party......Karl Boelling lives in Oak Ridges and recently got tired of the same old thing of being forced to choose from a selection of parties that are all sort of the same (just a few variations). So he became a Libertarians and after reviewing (and approving) of who they were and what they had to say, he asked who the riding candidate was and was told there wasn't one as yet. So he decided to step up and be that candidate. He believes in limited government and is tired of of asking "for what?" when he looks at his paystub and seeing the gross pay, then after adding up how much he didn't get of that. He says, "I'm tired of asking how when I hear about these massive debts of the government and then looking around me, counting all the people around me and assuming that they're taxed the same way as I am and I'm just an employee, I know that my employer has to match the income tax he takes from me on behalf of the government on top of everything else he has to pay. I could go on but that's not necessary, I just believe that this province can actually be run as a succesfull business if the government would step back and let the people who actually have the ability to create jobs and wealth free to do what needs to be done.
Independent..... Ruida Lu lives in the Oak Ridges community of Richmond Hill. He is currently studying International Business Administration at Schulich School of Business, York University. He serves as Vice President Finance at the York University chapter of Save the Children Canada. Ruida was a winner of Lieutenant Governor's Community Volunteer Award for Students and Eglinton-Lawrence Outstanding Volunteer Award in 2009. He has volunteered more than 1,000 hours for various charitable organizations and non-for-profit groups such as the Heart & Stroke and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in the past five years. The lack of transparency in Queen's Parke, the Health scandal and skyrocketing hydro prices got Ruida motivated to run for MPP. Ruida is committed to bringing accountability to Queen's Park. He will improve the efficiency of government operations to lower taxes and improve services for residents. Ruida has an avid interest in transportation. Ruida's team won the Best Bus Design award at 2011 Ontario Youth Summit on Sustainable Transportation. Ruida wants to fight against traffic congestions in the GTA, and make public transit run faster and cost less. He is a strong advocate in environmental protection, and he wants to ban new development in the Oak Ridges moraine and stop the construction of the Pickering Airport. As an independent candidate, Ruida will stand up for the interests of Oak Ridges-Markham residents, not interests of political parties. If elected, he will keep all his promises or he will resign. Satisfaction guaranteed!

What Voters in Oak Ridges-Markham are saying about Energy and Education!

Brian Weller

BY Brian Weller | BLOGGER

Oak Ridges-Markham

Hello Speak Your Mind readers, my name is Brian Weller and I am your 'community blogger' in the coming Provincial election for Oak Ridges-Markham voters. I live in Markham and share your concerns! Over the course of the campaign, I will be bringing your questions forward to your candidates and each will have the opportunity to respond so send your questions to

Check back here often to see what your candidates have to say. The initial set of questions relate to energy and education and I've asked all candidates to respond. The comments below are from the candidates who have responded to date.
I hope you find Speak Your Mind not only interesting but informative. We have an important decision to make together come October 6th.

 Oak Ridges-Markham candidates were all asked the same questions and I received responses from Liberal candidate Dr. Helena Jaczek, Green Party candidate Trifon Haitas and NDP candidate Joe Whitfeld.


Question #1 - it has been reported that Ontario already has more than enough electricity for current needs and Samsung's output will command a premium price, averaging 17 cents a kilowatt hour in the first year and rising to 18.2 cents a kilowatt hour by the end of the 20-year agreement. That compares with a current average price in Ontario, including power sold both under contract and on the open market of 7 cents a kilowatt hour. As a result, much of the power produced by Samsung will be exported, at prices of 3 to 4 cents a kilowatt hour. Is this factual? if yes, do you have plans to deal with this discrepancy?

Answer: Dr. Helena Jaczek of the Liberals says, “ that Ontario’s partnership with Samsung is creating 16,000 direct and indirect jobs in Ontario, injecting $7 billion of investment into our economy and providing us 2,500 megawatts of clean wind and solar electricity.Right now, four manufacturing plants are getting ready for production in Windsor, Tillsonburg, London and Toronto. Last month, the Ontario Liberal Government made some important improvements to the agreement because our Samsung partners wanted the same one-year commercial operation date extension that was provided to all other FIT contract holders in February, 2011. In exchange for that one-year extension, Ontario gained significant improvements that make this an even better investment opportunity for Ontarians. Under the revised agreement, the economic development payments to Samsung are reduced to a maximum of $110 million - down from a projected $437 million when the deal was first signed. That's a 75 per cent reduction and will save Ontario ratepayers $327 million. These payments will only begin after the manufacturing plants start operating, job commitments are met and the solar and wind projects begin producing clean energy. Should job levels fall or a plantclose, payments will be reduced accordingly. The Samsung agreement means thousands of new clean energy manufacturing jobs in Ontario and new renewable energy to power our homes and businesses. The Samsung agreement will provide the necessary power to help meet Ontario’s electricity demand over the next 20 years.”

Responses from the other candidates to this question will be posted, as received.

Question #2 - it has been reported that Ontario Hydro has been a net exporter of power at a loss, twice in 2011. Specifically, last New Year's Day, Quebec and New York took our surplus wind generated power and the Ontario taxpayer had to pay them $1.5 million! is this factual? If true, why were the wind generators not turned off? And then on August 28th and 29th, Ontario exported power to New York and Quebec again, this time at a loss of $6.6 million. is this factual? If true, why was this allowed to happen again and what would you do to ensure that this doesn't happen a third time?

Answer: Dr. Helena Jaczek of the Liberals says that, “Ontario’s position as a net exporter of electricity provides benefits to Ontario economically and enhances system reliability. Since 2006, Ontario has gained over $1.6 billion (net) from the electricity market, and over $191 million so far in 2011. This positive trade balance goes towards costs in our electricity system that otherwise would need to be paid for by Ontario consumers. Ontario is entering into a period where coal-fired units are being retired and nuclear units will soon be brought offline for refurbishment. Adequate electricity supply must be in place before that can proceed. It has taken hard work and substantial investment to achieve this energy security given the abject state of the electricity system we inherited eight years ago. Since 2003, Ontario Liberals have added 8,900MW of new and refurbished energy supply and have a Long-Term Energy Plan that secures our energy future through 2030. Part of that plan is having Ontario coal-free by 2014, something that we are on-track to achieve. We’ve shut down eight coal burning units so far and will shut down an addition two units by the end of this year. This summer, one of the hottest on record, our electricity system was more than able to handle the demands place on it during peak hours on our hottest days – without power warnings, without emergency imports, and without emergency generators.”

Answer: Trifon Haitas of the Green Party says he will "fight so that we do not allow Ontario to be a net exporter of power at a loss again

 Responses from the other candidates to this question will be posted, as received.

Question #3 - It has been reported that Ontario's Green Energy and Economy Act prohibits competitive bidding for power projects. do you agree with this?if yes, why?if not, why?

Answer: Dr. Helena Jaczek of the Liberals says "a cornerstone of the Green Energy Act is to build clean, distributed generation by providing incentives for participation by Ontarians themselves. Through the Green Energy Act, Ontario has created a fair, open and transparent process for both large and small investors and companies. The Green Energy Act and Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan have put us on the right track to rebuild our electricity system, clean up our air, and create good jobs for thousands of Ontario workers."

Answer: Trifon Haitas of the Green Party says, “we need "competitive bidding to ensure Ontarian's get the best deal for our tax dollar."

 Responses from the other candidates to this question will be posted, as received.

 Question #4 - it has been reported that Ontario's Green Energy and Economy Act is in clear breach of World Trade Organization rules and is inconsistent with Canada's federal WTO obligations. Is this factual? The European Union and Japan have both complained. Is this factual? If yes, has this ACT put the Ontario taxpayer in a precarious position? If yes, could the WTO force a withdrawl of Ontario's Green Energy and Economy Act?

Answer: Dr. Helena Jaczek of the Liberals says, “Ontario’s FIT (Feed-In Tariff) Program is consistent with Canada’s international trade obligations under the WTO. We will continue to work with the Federal Government and our international partners to ensure that our position is well understood, and our economy’s interests and those of clean energy manufacturers in Ontario are protected. Ontario is already emerging as a clean energy powerhouse. We have attracted over 30 domestic and international renewable energy companies, created over 20,000 jobs and attracted over $20 billion in private sector investment. It is no surprise that others internally recognize our leadership.”

 Responses from the other candidates to this question will be posted, as received.

Question #5- it has been reported that Green Energy is thriving in Europe and Australia and elsewhere without 'feed-in' tariffs. Is this factual? If yes, why was it necessary for us to have a 'feed-in' tariff?

Answer: Dr. Helena Jaczek of the Liberals says, “Ontario’s FIT program is largely modeled on the example of Germany who has successfully entrenched themselves as the European leader in renewable energy. Recently Japan brought forward a FIT Program of their own based on the programs in place in Ontario and Germany. In just two years, our Green Energy Act has managed attract over $20 billion of investment in our economy and create over 20,000 direct and indirect jobs in Ontario – and on track to reach 50,000 jobs by 2012.”

Answer: Joe Whitfeld of the NDP says "this is not true, Australia has had feed-in tariffs in the states of Southern Australia and Queenland since 2008. Today, every state in Australia has adopted a 'feed-in' tariff system. Furthermore, the global leader in solar energy is Germany who produce 9,700MW of solar power under a 'feed in' tariff system. Large and skilled photovoltaic companies have developed in Germany while public awareness on the efficiency of renewable energy has spawned an action plan for Germany to rely solely on green energy by 2022. Italy also has developed a successful 'feed-in' tariff system. Every two months, Italy installs more solar panels than California does in a single year. Italy currently generates 1,110MW of solar power. The feed-in tariff system is proving to be an important component to the transition to clean, renewable, and efficient energy."

Answer: Trifon Haitas of the Green Party says, “yes, it is necessary to have a 'feed-in' tariff."

 Responses from the other candidates to this question will be posted, as received.

Question #6 - It has been reported that new infrastructure under the Ontario's Green Energy and Economy Act costing $80 millio to fund to help build electric car charging stations across Ontario was just announced. Is this factual? What are the benefits and what are the drawbacks?

Answer: Dr. Helena Jaczek of the Liberals says, “more cars are built in Ontario than in any other province or state in North America. Recently, Toyota announced that they have chosen Woodstock, Ontario as the location for the manufacturing of their electric RAV4 EV. Magna is investing in its E-Car initiative right here in Ontario, as well. Electric cars are already here in North America and Ontario needs to be prepared as these new cars take to our roads. That’s why we were proud to announce an $80 million fund to kick-start the widespread availability of electric charging stations in Ontario. The fund will encourage public and private sectors to come forward with proposals to build, test, and expand the availability of recharging facilities.”

Responses from the other candidates to this question will be posted, as received.

Question #7 - It has been reported that there are not enough transmission wires installed to transfer 'Green Energy' power from where it is being generated to where it is needed in Ontario's present electrical distribution system! is this factual? If yes, how will you deal with this?

Answer: Dr. Helena Jaczek of the Liberals says, “since 2003, we have invested almost $8 billion building new infrastructure and upgrading over 5,000 km of transmission lines. Our Long-Term Energy Plan builds on the progress made to date by setting out five priority lines for expanding our transmission grid by 2018. These investments will strengthen the reliability of our existing system, while allow more clean, renewable power to connect to the grid.”

Answer: Trifon Haitas of the Green Party responded that he would "localize the power grid."

 Responses from the other candidates to this question will be posted, as received.

Question #8 - It has been reported that the much-loathed debt retirement charge will remain in force for another 4 to 7 years, according to Ontario Electricity Financial Corp, the agency set up to hold the $7.8 billion debt that remained when Ontario Hydro was broken up. Is this factual? If no, why? A political leader has said ratepayers have already paid the $7.8 billion and will cancel the debt on Ontario Electricity users' bills. Is this factual? If no, why?

Answer: Dr. Helena Jaczek of the Liberals says, “the previous PC Government’s failed attempt to privatize Ontario’s electricity system saddled Ontarians with more than $19.4 billion in stranded debt due to the breakup of the old Ontario Hydro. To make matters worse, even-though the PC government was collecting their newly introduced Debt Retirement Charge (DRC), they managed to balloon this debt load to about $20.6 billion by the time they left office in 2003. Since 2003, strong management has steadily reduced the stranded debt and the associated interest payments. The most recent review by the Auditor General confirms that the remaining debt sits at $13.4 billion -- and the DRC is on track to be eliminated by between 2015 and 2018.”

 Responses from the other candidates to this question will be posted, as received.

Question: An Energy question from a taxpayer – “How are we supposed to conserve energy when the costs to get hydro exceed the cost of the hydro we use. The bill was $251.13, up from $143.81 the month before and included $86.27 delivery charges, $10.22 regulatory charges, $9.90 debt reduction, and $28.89 for HST. Come on. This is insane and it needs to stop. Doesn't anyone realize most people just can't afford to spend over $3,000 a year for hydro?"

Answer: Trifon Haitas of the Green Party says, “we need to first eliminate the HST and then look for alternatives to bring down the cost to consumers."

 Further responses about our Energy from our candidates will be posted, as received.


 Question #1 - It has been reported that student math results have been slipping for the last two years. The Education Quality and Accountability Office reported the number of students meeting the provincial standard is slipping.Is this factual? If yes, why do you think math results are slipping?

Answer: Dr. Helena Jaczek of the Liberals says, “the numbers cited are correct. While it is true that math has been the most challenging area of testing in recent years, we have made progress since 2003, with Grade 3 scores rising by twelve percentage points and Grade 6 rising by five percentage points. Because math results have been a challenge, we our increasing our focus on this area. Two ways we’re doing this is through investments in the Homework Help and Summer Learning program. As of September 2011, the Homework Help program has been expanded from 31 school boards into every English board in the province. 600,000 English-language math students in Grades 7 to 10 have access to live, free, interactive online math help from certified Ontario teachers. Additionally, we are expanding our Summer Learning programs, to help students who are struggling in Grades 1 – 3. Last year, 1200 kids participated; this year, the program will serve 7500 kids and will be expanded into every school board in the province.”

Answer: Joe Whifeld of the NDP tells Speak Your Mind that "we need to alter our methods of assessment. Last year he was 1 of 40 educators hand picked from 2,771 elementary teachers in the Durham District School Board to participate in an innovative program for mathematics entitled ICLIPPS. The program is based on inquiry learning and encourages children to use manipulatives such as base 10 blocks, fraction strips, and other tools. The children were very engaged in this style of learning.The vast majority of teachers, including myself, will tell you that the EQAO test needs improvement. $36 million is ineffectively spent ever year on this program. In EQAO, children are expected to sit in a chair for 6 hours a day for two days straight with simple pencil to paper testing. The test is not a reflection of an individual’s intelligence, nor a proper indicator of their ability. Any adult writing EQAO would also have test fatigue. I do not understand why we demand our kids to write tests in th same manner as law students writing the bar exam. We can include in-class samples of student work. Let's fix the real issue. Our provincial government needs to adequately fund our schools."

Answer: Trifon Haitas of the Green Party says "we need to make learning math more fun for children."

 Responses from the other candidates to this question will be posted, as received.

Question:  Should teachers commit to an extra year in teacher's college or receive additional on-the-job classroom training or both?

Answer:  Dr. Helena Jaczek of the Liberals says, “we want to make sure that the future teachers of Ontario have the best education possible. We're doubling — and improving — the time teachers spend educating for their careers. Ontario's new two-year program would mean that student teachers would spend more time in the classroom. Ontario teachers would also get more professional development opportunities in the first three years of teaching to support them as they grow in their careers.”

Answer: Joe Whitfeld of the NDP says "no to both"."Last year, the Ontario College of Teachers released in their Professionally Speaking Edition that they were pleased that there are many qualified Ontario Certified Teachers who are employed in different industries besides education. Despite the positive spin, there are thousands of people in Ontario with a degree from teacher’s college that will never see the inside of classroom unless they go back to school themselves. As each year passes, there is a growing gap between retiring teachers, and the new teacher’s fresh out of school. Roughly 7,000 Ontarians will graduate from teacher’s college and not be able to find employment. How can we say that new teachers need more education when the vast majority of people coming out of teacher’s college can not find work? New teachers are having a difficult time just cracking the supply list. The only people who benefit from this policy are the people charging 7,000 students another year of tuition. Let’s generously say that an additional year of school will cost $10,000 between tuition and expenses. An extra year of teacher’s college will put our new teachers in debt by an additional $70 million. Every good teacher is a life long learner. I have the privilege to work at a great school, R.H. Cornish Public School in Port Perry, Ontario, which has offered various professional development programs. I do my best to be involved in any opportunities that strengthen my ability to be an effective educator."

Answer: Trifon Haitas of the Green Party says, "teachers should commit to an extra year in teacher's college and receive additional on-the-job classroom training."

 Responses from the other candidates to this question will be posted, as received.

Question #3 - It is reported that bringing back a full fall report card and eliminating the progress report so teachers and parents can identify how the child is comprehending the curriculum as early in the school year as possible be a step in the right direction? Do you agree with this? If yes, why? If not, why?

Answer: Dr. Helena Jaczek of the Liberals says, “we consulted extensively with parents, teachers and other stakeholders before making changes to the Fall Report Card. The changes reflect the feedback we received. Parents want clear and understandable information about how their child is doing early in the school year. Teachers told us that they often don’t have enough information in the first six to eight weeks of school to fairly evaluate a student’s work. The Progress Report Cards gives feedback to parents and students about six different learning skills and work habits.

Joe Whitfeld of the NDP believes that, "we need to try the progress report for an additional 2 years. One of the most important goals that teachers must address during the first few months of the year, are the development of a child’s learning skills. Learning skills are based under 6 categories: responsibility, organization, independent work, collaboration, initiative, and self-regulation. The progress report allows the teacher to meet a parent early in the school year to discuss whether a child has any behavioural issues that may hinder academic success. This teacher/parent relationship allows the discussion of effective strategies that may enhance the ability of a child to perform in the classroom. To adequately assess the value of the progress report, we must allow the administration of this program to continue for at least 2 years."

Answer: Trifon Haitas of the Green Party says "we need full disclosure of where each child needs improvement."

 Responses from the other candidates to this question will be posted, as received.

Question: An Education question from a taxpayer - schools used to be run better by teachers and the local community with less ministry interference. Do you agree with this statement? If yes, why? If not, why?

Answer: Dr. Helena Jaczek of the Liberals says, “our government respects the important role of school trustees, boards and school principals and believes that sound local decision-making is essential to student success. School Trustees are elected in accordance with the Education Act at each municipal election and are responsible for the operation of the public school system. Public school trustees are a critical link between communities and school boards. They ensure public schools meet the needs of students and are responsible to their communities for the quality of education provided in local schools within an approved financial framework. At the same time, the ministry has an important role in coordinating and bringing boards together. The ministry works closely with school boards to ensure that initiatives like our Student Success strategy are implemented effectively. By working together, we ensure that our schools are safe, with high quality standards, while at the same time allowing for local decision-making to reflect individual circumstances.”

Answer: Joe Whitfeld of the NDP believes "successful schooling is based on great leadership and a strong community of learners. With our without ministry interference, a great principle can inspire teachers. A great teacher can inspire his or her students in any system. And a strong and committed community can become engaged in the school environment. Regardless of who our education minister may be, teachers in Ontario are passionate and will do everything to ensure that our students grow."

Answer: Trifon Haitas of the Green Party says "yes, each local community has it's own unique circumstance that they are better equipped to manage."

Further responses about Education from the other candidates will be posted, as received.

 Next week, we'll be discussing Tax relief so stay tuned. This will be your opportunity to Speak Your Mind.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath's Buy Ontario policy is up for discussion!

September 18, 2011,

Will Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty and PC leader, Tim Hudak join NDP Andrea Horwath in offering a Buy Ontario policy to the voters? It's not too late to rebuild our local manufacturing industry!

Ontarian's are in a credit crisis that was exacerbated drastically when we where asked to bail out those deemed 'Too Big to Fail' in the private sector three years ago, during which time many of those making things that Ontarian's want were ignored.

Some have said it would have been better to support our local manufacturing and guarantee taxpayer savings by opening up a provincial bank and just let the greedy collapse!

As it is, onerous government debt has spiraled out of control and led to a sea-change in attitude towards risk. Is it true that our government can only finance this new debt on top of old debt on the backs of our children and grandchildren?

Why did the taxpayer have to support those judged as 'Too Big'?  That is a question for the voters to ask they're candidates but many said it didn't pass the smell test at the time and some say it smells worse now as it forced the taxpayer to became responsible for the risky behaviour of the protected vested interests; who continue with impunity!