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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.


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


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?


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?


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.)


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.


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.


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.)


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.


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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Hi Mike -

You raise so many different issues in a single post. Wow. I'll try to answer them logically and in sequence so I don't miss any of your points. If I do, please feel free to raise any points I've missed.

I'm going to have to answer this in pieces because my comments field can only hold so much info.


1. I couldn't quite follow your point about McCallum. (Your sentence wasn't quite clear.) What McCallum has to say about the train is irrelevant. It's Betsy's take on the train that matters. She is the person who is running for election in this riding. She has always been strongly in favour of the train. The Peterborough Examiner made this point in a recent editorial. (See link in my post above.)

2. When commentators from outside our riding have objected to Peterborough getting the train, they have raised two types of objections -- as it is their right to do. (They are looking out for the rights of their constituents, too, remember.) They have been furious about the way that proper channels were not followed when Flaherty set aside the money in the budget. (This is why Flaherty and Del Mastro are both mentioned in the Scandalpedia entry on the train: there's a right way to seek approval for a project of this magnitude and a wrong way. It's like getting approval for a new computer at work. You don't buy the computer and seek approval after the fact. You get approval first. That's what this issue is all about.) The second issue they have questioned -- and that a number of letter-writers to the Examiner have also raised -- is whether a train is the right option for Peterborough. The point these individuals have made [AND I WILL STATE EMPHATICALLY HERE TO PREVENT YOU FROM MISUNDERSTANDING THIS POINT -- THESE PEOPLE ARE NOT BETSY] is that buses may be a viable option as well -- and that in tough economic times people have to carefully consider all uses of public dollars. We won't know until the provincial transportation authority completes the entire transportation review process whether (1) the train is the best option; (2) Peterborough has the greatest need province-wide. Everyone hopes that the news will be good because a train would be very positive for Peterborough.

I would love to have the train in our riding. I could use my laptop on the train. (My sister, who uses the train a lot for her job, tells me that some of the trains have high-speed Internet.) I know Betsy feels the same way. Who would choose to drive when they could commute by train?

Hi Mike -

The Examiner carried a news report about the debate as well. (It's in today's paper (Oct. 2). They noted that some students decided to poll other students after the debate and that about 10 students were asked their opinion. I'm not quite sure how these uneven percentages were derived from a poll of ten students. Either way, it doesn't sound like the poll was particularly formal. Here's a link to the story:

The other point I'd make is that I'm more concerned about Del Mastro's track record over the past almost-three-years as opposed to his debating performance during a single debate. His track record (as outlined above) really says it all.

The facts about the train are this, John McCallum who was seen on Chex tv monday as saying Betsy McGregor is for the Train was actually quoted as speaking out against it. 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, but couldn't deliver any big ticket items, unlike Dean.
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?

With just under two weeks left until Election Day, the four candidates in the Peterborough Riding met for their fourth debate in three days. This debate was sponsored by the group Jamaica Self Help, and held at Adam Scott High School in the city’s north end.

Following the 90 minute discussion that focused on national and local issues, those in attendance we asked two questions: 1-“Who won the debate?” and 2-“Who would you vote for?”

The verbal response provided astounding results that showed MP Del Mastro coming out with a
landslide Victory, collecting a resounding 72% response to question one, “Who won the debate?”….
followed by NDP Candidate Steven Sharpe with 20% of the vote, Green Candidate Emily Berrigan with 6% and Liberal Candidate Besty McGregor placing last with only 2% of the vote.

In response to question two, “Who would you vote for?”, MP Del Mastro again, came out on top with 62%, followed by NDP Candidate Steven Sharpe with 18%, the Green Party’s Emily Berrigan with 14% of the vote, and Liberal Candidate Betsy McGregor, again placing last with just 6% of the vote.

* Figures obtained from Newswatch @ 5:30

After watching the French debate tonight , how could anyone vote for Harper and his list of candidates ? Harper is so much a Bush Republican style it is scary. Is this what Canadians really want ?

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