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October 01, 2008

Thinking About Voting for Dean Del Mastro?

Before you vote for Dean Del Mastro in Peterborough Riding

Make sure you have all the facts first.

THE FACTS ABOUT THE TRAIN

If you're thinking about voting for Dean Del Mastro because you think you have to vote for Dean in order to bring the train to Peterborough, you need to know that the Conservative, Green Liberal, and NDP candidates in our riding ALL strongly support bringing the train to Peterborough. You don't have to vote for Dean Del Mastro to vote for the train.

You also need to know that the train is still a work-in-progress: that it still has to make its way through a process of approvals before it can be considered a done deal. Unfortunately, statements like this one from Dean Del Mastro's campaign literature make it difficult for people to understand that the train is not a done deal yet: "In Budget 2008, Dean celebrated the announcement of funding for the re-establishment of the Peterborough-Toronto Commuter Rail Link, claiming it to be, "The single biggest federal infrastructure investment in Peterborough since John A. MacDonald announced the completion of the Trent Severn Waterway." Dean may have celebrated the funding announcement, but he certainly hasn't been able to celebrate the approval of a train because that hasn't happened yet.

"[Dean Del Mastro's] promise to return Toronto-to-Peterborough passenger rail service is looking more likely to come true, but is open to questions about whether it would be an economic drain. Last week's surprise proposal for a massive hotel-entertainment complex on Parks Canada property on Little Lake is exciting, but a long way from reality."
- Editorial, Peterborough Examiner, September 9, 2008

THE FACTS ABOUT THE ECONOMY

If you're voting for Dean Del Mastro because you think a Conservative government under Stephen Harper will make for a stronger economy, you may want to look at the government's track record in this area. The Harper Government -- with Dean Del Mastro serving as a member of the Standing Committee on Finance -- spent its way through Canadians' $20 million rainy day fund over the past three years -- and now that we're facing a rainy day, the government has nothing left to invest in our economy. Many economists said at the time that a GST cut was the wrong way to go because it didn't stimulate the economy in the same way that a tax cut would have stimulated the economy. (Incidentally, this is why income tax benefits are built into the Liberal government's Green Shift plan -- a program that has been misunderstood by many Canadians.)

Here's something else to consider. As columnist Lawrence Martin reports in today's Globe and Mail, the Federal Conservatives are doing everything they can to distance themselves from the economically disastrous policies of the neo-Conservative Bush administration south of the border -- a case it gets it gets more difficult to make after the politically disastrous speech plagiarism incident.

The Harper government also reversed its position on the income trust issue -- a betrayal of the trust of many ordinary Canadians who paid heavily for this broken promise. Dean Del Mastro repeatedly reversed his position on this issue to support the party line. Where was he when his constituents needed him to speak out on this issue?

THE FACTS ABOUT PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY

If you're voting for Dean Del Mastro because you believe that Canada under Stephen Harper will be a safer place, you might be interested in knowing that the Conservative Party of Canada approach to governance emphasizes cost-savings that can sometimes be at the expense of public health. “According to the government’s own spending estimates, released before the listeriosis outbreak started in summer 2008, there would be less money for food inspection over the following three years.” (CBC.ca, September 24, 2008)

And when public health objectives come into conflict with business objectives, Dean Del Mastro follows the party line by siding with big business. During the last session of Parliament, Dean Del Mastro voted against bills that would have provided more information to consumers about genetically modified foods and that would have provided more details warning labels on alcohol. If he wasn't voting in support of public safety and the public good, in whose interest was he voting?

THE FACTS ABOUT CRIME

If you're thinking about voting for Dean Del Mastro because you believe that a revamped justice system under Stephen Harper will mean less crime, you might want to know that overall crime rates are on the decline and that the approach to dealing with youth crime that Stephen Harper and justice minister Rob Nicholson has been heavily criticized by the judge appointed to recommend changes to the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Oddly enough, Stephen Harper had been claiming throughout the campaign that the judge had endorsed the Conservative Party crime platform.

The judge isn't the only leading authority on law, justice, and crime that the Harper government ignored when putting together its tough-on-crime platform. It's US-style approach to justice has been proven ineffective, expensive (we'll need 22 new jails!), and counterproductive. Crime rates actually rise. *

Closer to home, Dean Del Mastro came under heavy fire from constituents back in July as a result of his youth crime mailout. The mailout was described as being fear-mongering, anti-youth, and an unwise use of taxpayers' resources. (See link to Peterborough Examiner in post.)

THE FACTS ABOUT THE LITTLE LAKE PROPOSAL

If you're thinking about voting for Dean Del Mastro because you would like to see some sort of development occur on Little Lake, you might want to consider what you're getting for your vote. For starters, the parcel of land on Little Lake is under the control of Parks Canada. Parks Canada is mandated to protect that land for the protection of future generations. And, as our Member of Parliament, Dean Del Mastro is mandated to pursue the interests of all constituents. To ensure that the interests of all citizens of Peterborough are taken into account, consultations on a public asset as important as this one need to be conducted in an open and accountable manner. Anyone can put together a proposal and circulate it behind closed doors. It takes a true leader to ensure that the proper protocols are observed every step of the way and that even the perception of conflict of interest or impropriety is avoided. A true leader leads by example.

THE FACTS ABOUT THE ARTS FUNDING CUTS

If you're thinking about voting for Dean Del Mastro because you see him as being committed to the arts (his election brochure states that he has made numerous funding announcements with a focus on the Arts and Heritage community -- but his brochure neglects to mention that some of these groups are at risk of losing their funding as a result of his government's far-reaching cuts to the arts and cultural sector -- cuts he was privy to as a member of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage and the Standing Committee on Finance. Artists, arts volunteers, and arts patrons in our community recently met to discuss those cuts. Get the local response story here. Note: Dean Del Mastro has also been repeating the "we haven't been cutting funding" double-speak that tripped up Stephen Harper with the national media. Oops.

THE FACTS ABOUT ABORIGINAL ISSUES

If you're voting for Dean Del Mastro because you believe that the Harper government's apology signaled a commitment to aboriginal issues, you might want to consider how he fared during the aboriginal debates at Curve Lake. Some of his comments attracted national attention -- but not in a way that reflected well on our riding: "The Kelowna Accord -- There is no such thing," Dean Del Mastro told the crowd assembled at Curve Lake. That sounds just like a Rona Ambrose quote. (Be patient. She's coming up in a moment.)

THE FACTS ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT

If you're voting for Dean Del Mastro because you think he is serious about environmental change, you might want to consider that he served on the original Harper environment committee (the one headed up by Rona Ambrose; a committee that was so out of synch with what Canadians were demanding that there was a national outcry at the time). Unfortunately, all that really came of that outcry was a new committee chair: John Baird.

During the Harper years, Canada stopped being known as an international advocate for environmental change and stated to be known as a country that lets the oil and gas industry and other business interests call the shots. Peterborough Examiner nature columnist Drew Monkman recently wrote a heartfelt Letter to the Editor on this issue. It's definitely worth reading.

OTHER FACTS ABOUT DEAN DEL MASTRO
THAT YOU MAY WISH TO CONSIDER

Dean Del Mastro

* What is it about the mindset of this government that insists on disregarding the best-evidence from experts in their respective fields, whether we're talking law and justice, the environment, or another critically important issue? Is it because leadership is largely vested in one man who takes advice from very few people and who hates to share power -- and who finds it next to impossible to apologize or admit mistakes; and who surrounds himself with "yes men" who refuse to let him know when he's on the wrong track (for sake of their own political careers?)

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Comments

Thanks for your comment, Anton. I agree that she is the voice of progress, in the best sense of the world: not paving paradise or letting business have its way with our little city; but working for the greater good. She is all about townhalls and democracy and giving every citizen a voice. That's who I want working on my behalf in Ottawa.

Looking from the outside in, Peterborough is a sleepy town looking for a wake up call. Betsy McGregor gives the voters a chance to give the city a voice. Its a unique opportunity because Betsy is a unique individual. A grain of sand in your shoe, an idealist for your collective mind and and an achiever with a record. Wake up Peterborough and vote for this woman! Put the city, the university and the resources of its people on the map.

Hi again, Mike.

(Continuing after an exciting zip up to the Liftlock to meet with other artists who were protesting the arts funding cuts. What a great turnout we had.)

Now to address the last part of your comment: "In closing might I also note that if Betsy loved Peterborough so much, why did she run and lose in an election last time, somewhere else?"

Peter Adams was already the MP in Peterborough Riding in 2004, so that wasn't an option.

Betsy was approached by the candidate search committee in Renfrew-Nipissing-Renfew at that time and asked if she would consider running in their riding.

Last year, when this issue was raised during Betsy's nomination campaign, she had this to say on the issue:

"While not successful in Renfrew, it provided me with invaluable experience and has not damped my spirit nor deterred me from my passion to serve and help make my community a better place. I join a long list of defeated candidates who went on to enjoy later political success—and to truly make their mark in this community: Hugh Faulkner, Peter Adams, Jeff Leal, and Sylvia Sutherland."

I'm happy she decided to resume her political career here. (As many people know, she had to take a bit of time away from politics between 2004 and 2006, to care for her mother, who was dying.)

Hi again, Mike -

YOUR WROTE:
"but couldn't deliver any big ticket items, unlike Dean."

When I look at the list of accomplishments on the back of Dean Del Mastro's campaign literature (one would assume this is a list of the "big ticket items" he accomplished during his term as MP), I really don't see much of substance
1. that is signed, sealed and delivered;
2. that can be credited to him directly.

Here are my comments on various types of achievements Dean Del Mastro has highlighted in his campaign brochure.


1. PASSPORT RECEIVING OFFICE ACCOMPLISHMENT.

A taxpayer has to be paying very close attention to see what the issue is in this case.

A passport receiving office is not the same thing as a passport service office.

I don't think a lot of people in Peterborough riding are aware of this -- that the new passport receiving office in Peterborough is not a full passport office.

I wasn't clear about this either until someone else explained to me that our local passport receiving office only accepts the passport office and original documents -- and forwards them on for you. In other words, it's the same thing as mailing your original documents, something I am loathe to do. I would rather drive to Whitby or Scarborough to a real passport office and have my documents processed on the spot so that I can take them home again with me.

I would be very grateful to our next MP if that person could bring a real, full-service passport office to Peterborough. That would really be cause for celebration.

2. CELEBRATING THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF FUNDING FOR THE RE-ESTABLISHMENT OF THE PETERBOROUGH-TORONTO COMMUTER TRAIL LINK.

Celebrating a funding announcement isn't really that much of an achievement when the train itself hasn't been approved. (See links and info above.) But this is quite cleverly worded. You have to read it carefully to realize what was -- and wasn't -- being celebrated.


NEED MORE INFO: SHOULD ALL OF THESE BE LISTED UNDER ACHIEVEMENTS?: Did Dean Del Mastro spearhead each of these projects or did he show up to shake hands with the funding recipients as a funding announcement was being made by the government ministry in question? There's a difference.
Examples of such "achievements" cited in Dean Del Mastro's campaign brochure:
money to New Horizons for Seniors;
money for affordable housing;
money for smoking cessation program;
money to support pandemic drug research at Trent University;
various arts funding announcements.

WHERE DEAN DEL MASTRO DOES DESERVE FULL CREDIT: Dean Del Mastro does deserve full credit for keeping his office opened on Saturdays and raising $45,000 for the United Way. Those were positive initiatives that he accomplished as an MP.

FINAL FOOTNOTE: I'll be able to comment further on Dean Del Mastro's special commendation from Stephen Harper and John Baird re: his work on the Federal Accountability Act once all the outstanding matters before the ethics committee are completed. As a citizen, I don't feel that I have the full story about the in-and-out scandal and everything that has taken place in this country. I will wait until I know more before I congratulate Dean Del Mastro on this commendation.

I'm going to tackle this big comment of yours at once. I'm pasting it in so that you'll know what I'm responding to.

YOU WROTE:
"Knowing that Mr. Ignatieff has promclaimed McCallum to be the next Finance Minister, it looks as though if the Libs have their way, they won't be listening to Betsy. Also, top Liberal Dan McTeague was also quoted in the T.O. Star last week speaking out against the expansion of the rail to Peterborough, despite his letter of recommendation from 2001 that says it will service his riding, a riding he doesn't actually live in... (flip flop) Add to that front row politician, Martha Hall Findlay's elitest comments that insinuated that T.O. is more important than Ptbo when it comes to funding. What we have is a local Liberal candidate who will firstly say anything to get elected, even though she can't back it up, and who clearly will be ignored within her own cabinet, much like our previous Liberal MP, who was a very nice and honest man...."

1. Does Dean Del Mastro totally support everything Stephen Harper has said and/or that other members of the Conservative Party have said and done during the campaign? In a free-thinking society we are all entitled to have our own opinions. We don't always have to walk in lock-step with members of our own party. As I stated above, what should matter most to people in this riding is what Betsy thinks about the train. And Betsy is and always has been in full support of the train. (See link to Examiner editorial in my article above. PLEASE ALSO NOTE THAT The Examiner editorial above also notes that "some Conservatives" have tried to imply that Betsy has not always been in support of the train -- but that that is not the case.)

2. I've been fortunate enough to have the chance to sit in on meetings between Betsy and other Liberal team members, including Stephane Dion (whom I admire greatly and consider to have the potential to be one of our finest prime ministers ever).

My take on the situation is that Betsy is taken very seriously within the Liberal Party and that she has been warmly embraced by colleagues across the country since her nomination last year. They value the many skills that she brings to the position. It's not often that you attract a candidate who has a background in science (veterinary medicine), food safety (how valuable would that skill be in government right now?), global development (she has worked in the field in third-world countries through the United Nations), the civil service (again, she would be able to bring a valuable "other side of the table" reality-check to the House of Commons, having worked as a civil servant herself), and advocacy (she has worked on projects designed to help girls to pursue careers in science and women in third-world countries to establish and grow their own businesses). She has a really impressive skill set that could allow her to contribute and to be heard in government.

3. What would lead you to say that Betsy will say anything to get elected? Has that been your experience of the politicians you work with?

4. What would lead you to say disparaging things about the political contributions of Peter Adams, a highly respected former MP from our riding?

* * * * *

...MORE TO COME .... HAVE TO ATTEND TO WORK COMMITMENTS

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