CAMPBELL’S BAY – Pontiac’s MP, Mathieu Ravignat, Treasury Board critic in the NDP shadow cabinet, outlined his party’s plans and concerns to the Journal for the final year of the federal Conservative’s present term. This is the last year before next October’s 2015 federal election, and Ravignat urges his Pontiac constituents to watch for any action in helping industries in trouble, like forestry, plus preparations for climate change, and ethics and accountability scandals.
The corporations’ party
The MP says the current government, claims it is the party of business and job-creation and suggests we pay attention to which industries are being helped, and where they are located. Is forestry being helped here in Pontiac? No, said the MP, adding that the billions to help oil and mining and even the auto industry don’t help the Pontiac. Harper is trying to convert every government agency and board into pro-corporate facilitators, said Ravignat. He points to their attempt to bring the world’s largest polluters in as partners in Arctic development, equal with native communities and polar scientists.
Forestry has needed help for years – in transforming wood, not shipping it out as raw logs, said Ravignat. This is a difficult problem, the MP conceded, but added that Conservatives don’t seem interested in the complexities of assisting wood-product manufacturers and wood-product exporters. “Harper’s vision is to ship everything out in bulk, jobs included – logs, tar sands, iron ore – but the NDP wants to improve this approach and aid local investors and entrepreneurs so that higher-paying transformation jobs are created here, “not in North Carolina.”
The MP suggested that the Reform-Conservatives will accuse the NDP of being anti-business; he says this negative advertising won’t work since Canadians have seen NDP governments in several provinces grow their economies without running up huge deficits, as the Conservatives have done.
The NDP will not throw the door open to multi-national corporations, he said, but will endorse a Capital Fund allowing the government to invest in existing factory upgrades and new equipment. The NDP will include the “eco-rules” which today’s markets demand; Pontiac wood products would then be readily accepted, rather than fighting, for example, European regulators on the corporations’ behalf. Ravignat referred to an existing $225 million fund the government could have used to aid Pontiac sawmills and plants, but refused, shifting the funds to large corporate projects. “I hope everyone in the Pontiac has been watching this shift in priorities,” said the MP.
As an example, Ravignat referred to the former Conservative cabinet minister, supposedly representing Pontiac, who refused to intervene in the Stone/Smurf paper-mill closure and layoffs.
Ethics and accountability will be another area to watch during this session, said the MP. “Every Pontiac resident should be concerned with how their taxes are being spent; we want more transparency in government spending – and cutting. We need to change the whole government’s culture away from secrecy and it’s going to take a real change in government to do this.” He said that with the trial of Mike Duffy, any protecting of the PMO – and Nigel Wright in the Duffy payoff – will take centre stage.