I had the opportunity to chat with Ontario PC leadership candidate Christine Elliott about the fiscal policy that’s earned her a few headlines over the past two weeks. Specifically, I asked about EI and her flat tax proposal. If the other candidates want to chat about specific policies they’ve outlined recently now that membership sales have cut off, please send me an email and we’ll set something up.
Frank Klees is running for the leadership of the PC Party of Ontario and took some time to chat with me today about what his bid means and where Ontario needs to go given the tough economic times and new taxation structure being implemented by Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty. Frank also discusses specific policy measures that he would or would not implement.
Danielle Smith is the former Alberta director of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and is a regular commentator on Canadian politics. She resigned her position at the CFIB because it suddenly presented a “conflict” for other opportunities, namely seeking the leadership of the Wildrose Alliance now that Paul Hinman has stepped down. I asked her about Alberta politics, refreshing conservatism and her very likely bid.
Today, I had the opportunity to interview Tim Hudak who announced that he’ll be running for leadership of the Ontario PC Party.
Lois Brown is the newly elected Conservative MP from Newmarket-Aurora. The former Conservative national councillor and Belinda Stronach rival for CPC nomination spoke to me about her impressions of the 2008 Conservative Party of Canada Policy Convention.
I just finished a call with Preston Manning on the subject of the 40th General Election. Here it is:
Today, at 6pm EST, we’re going to try something new. My boss at the Manning Centre, Preston Manning, will answer your questions live here on this blog. The floor is open to whatever you’d like to ask (within reason) and I’ll do my best to moderate the discussion. It’ll be like those old days of the AOL celebrity chat, but with new web 2.0 technology. I hope that you’ll join us.
UPDATE: We’re live!
UPDATE: I think the experiment was a success. Here’s the video.
and here was mine…
Stephen Taylor: In the context of manufacturing jobs in Ontario – Ontario being the economic engine of Canada – federal Liberal Leader Stephane Dion has recently proposed this carbon tax that he wants to take across the country to sell to Canadians this summer. We’ve seen measures in BC and in Quebec to start their own sort of carbon taxation. Do you believe that this is the right direction for Ontario in creating new jobs in a new economy or do you think it’s the wrong-headed approach for this province’s direction?
John Tory: Well, I think that a tax is a tax is a tax and when people describe a tax as revenue-neutral that sort of tries to somehow skirt the idea that somebody is still paying it even if you’re giving money back to somebody else but the bottom line is that somebody is still paying the tax. I think Dalton McGuinty had it right the first time when he said – and I almost quoted him – ‘Even the NDP knows that the last thing you do when the economy is struggling is impose new taxes’ and then for whatever reason – and I think you can all speculate and probably already have – what happened within the internal machinations of the Liberal Party he suddenly came forward a couple of weeks ago and said he thought this carbon tax was a good thing and that it was fine. And so, I think it’s the wrong approach. I’ve said that to the extend you need to have a price put on carbon in a cap-and-trade type of arrangement is better because it allows the marketplace to work on doing that sort of thing but I just think that the tax is the wrong approach and I just don’t understand why Mr. McGuinty isn’t far from endorsing it, he should be opposing it as he did before and it’s the wrong thing to hit the Ontario economy with at this point in time.
Stephen Taylor: So would you call upon the Federal Conservative environment minister to implement a cap-and-trade program?
John Tory: One thing I would call upon the Federal environment minister to do and on all of the other governments is they’ve got to do the same thing. The last thing industry needs – and this is the kind of example they tell me about when I’m sitting in these often small boardrooms of small manufacturing companies – they say ‘Look, we don’t know where to start with all the different governments having all of their different programs whether it’s on climate change or a host of other areas’ and I think what they should be doing is making a bigger effort than they have to actually agree on an approach, that is going to be an approach that is consistently adopted across the country. What if you are a manufacturing company that’s doing business in Canada, Quebec, Ontario and Alberta? You’re then confronted by all kinds of different rules – federal, provincial or otherwise – on the subject of carbon and climate change. Alberta, you can go get a grant to deal with carbon sequestration, Ontario it looks like they’ll go along with the taxing thing but also be in a cap-and-trade system, federally it looks like they’re going down the cap-and-trade road, and Quebec might have a tax. I think that’s part of the problem these days, that everyone’s doing their own thing and they think can all do that with impunity and not having to take account. So I would say to John Baird, I know it’s hard for him because these other governments go off and do their own thing, but I think the thing he might be trying to do – and he has been – trying to get some agreement on something we can do as a country – provinces and federal government – and at least have a uniform set of rules people would know about if they’re in business.