Article by Jason Setnyk | Submitted Photo
Cornwall, Ontario – Here are ten questions with SDSG NDP provincial candidate Marc Benoit. This article is the first in a series of interviews with each of the local candidates to help voters make a more informed decision when voting. The Ontario provincial election takes place on June 7th, 2018.
1 – Tell us about your background, why you’re running in this election, and why you would be the best choice to represent SDSG?
My background is in political science, journalism, community development, and intercultural communication. I believe in strong, well-connected, and inclusive communities that meet the needs of their citizens
This is an important election, and I believe that Andrea Horwath and the Ontario New Democrats have the best plan for Ontario, and strengthening our communities. This is in stark contrast to the incumbent Premier and PC Leader, who both plan to continue to sell off Ontario’s public assets and leave us worse off than ever.
I understand the actual needs of our communities. I’m not retired, I get by on a contract to contract and paycheck to paycheck basis like the vast majority of people in our Electoral District. I know our issues well, I’ve lived in and around Cornwall and SDG my entire life, I care deeply about these issues, I believe in civic duty and take immense pride being a part of this community. Cornwall is where my grandparents were raised. It’s a place I choose to call home.
2 – What do you think is the most important provincial concern for the people living in the riding of Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry?
The staggering cost of raising a family. We can’t afford to heat our homes; we can’t afford the costs of child care or important medication. We can’t afford to take care of our aging parents. We can’t afford to send our kids to school. The Ontario New Democrats platform addresses all of these concerns, and unlike the incumbent’s party, we’ve been transparent and open with how we’ll fund our promises.
3 – What is the NDP plan for hydro? Also, how do you feel the Liberals have handled Hydro thus far?
The Liberals never campaigned on a promise to privatize Hydro One. This issue is personal to me. Even though I live in Cornwall, where we’ve been lucky, my family lives just north of Morewood. The staggering costs have been hard on them. The Premier turned her back on voters when they sold off Hydro One. The Ontario New Democrats have released a twelve-page document and indicated the first bill we pass would address the issue. We’re going to bring Hydro back into public hands, reduce bills by 30 percent, give more powers to the Ontario Energy Board, end mandatory time of use pricing and end rural delivery charges.
4 – What investments will the NDP make regarding public transit? Also, does your party have a green strategy?
The Ontario New Democrats will help municipalities with up to 50 percent of transit costs. In addition to this, there are a number of policies we’re proposing for the Golden Horseshoe region. Those plans won’t help us here immediately, but it will alleviate pressure on the 401 corridor.
Our green policies focus on using cap-and-trade revenue to better finance other programs. We also have a plan to protect source water for future generations. That includes preserving the St. Lawrence, Raisin, and Nation rivers. We will also develop a food strategy that will be sustainable and bolster our local agriculture industry. Our party will always have a strong commitment to sustainable growth and green energy. You can’t be a serious politician in this century and not have a plan that works with communities, including First Nations.
5 – Will your party raise or lower taxes and for whom? How will your party’s tax policy impact families, seniors, and small businesses? How will your party’s tax policies impact job growth and disposable income for workers?
To answer this, I’ll remind your readers that under the PC Leader’s tax plan, lower income earning individuals will end up with less. His tax plan is a scam for those who need help the most. To make our vision come true, we’ll be asking those of us who can afford it to pay a little more. However, small businesses will save money by no longer having to fund dental and pharmacare benefits. We’ll close tax loopholes that allow major corporations to masquerade as small businesses. I get optimistic thinking about how our plan, making life easier for everyone to get by, will impact job growth. From agriculture to emerging technologies, to traditional industries, our plan will make it easier for everyone in Ontario to get by.
6 – Should the minimum wage be raised to $15 an hour next year?
The Ontario New Democrats will raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, and we’ll index it to inflation to ensure it keeps its buying power. We also know this change has been tough for some small businesses, and that’s why many of our other plans take the onus off business owners and promote the health and safety of workers, leading to happier employees and healthier workplaces overall.
7 – How will your party improve healthcare? Will your party consider privatization of health services, and if so, which ones? Will your party make prescriptions more affordable for working people?
I want to be clear; at no time now or ever would the Ontario New Democrats privatize health care. In any way. This is our party’s national legacy and proudest accomplishment. I say this with a book about the Greatest Canadian and father of our health care system, Tommy Douglas, sitting next to me.
People in Cornwall have always come together as a community when government funding doesn’t meet our healthcare needs. It’s amazing to see us all come together time and time again, but it shouldn’t be this way.
The Ontario New Democrats will properly fund our hospitals year over year to end hallway healthcare. We’ll allow hospitals to remove arbitrary caps that lead to surgery cancellations. We plan to spend $19 billion on capital investments. We’ll end the layoffs affecting our highly trained and esteemed nurses. Additionally, our investments in pharmacare, dental care, long-term care, and mental health spending will alleviate the pressure on the system all around. No other party stands up for our healthcare as we do.
(Marc Benoit points out that the NDP will never privatize health care, and that I should know that. I do know that, but for the sake of fairness, all candidates are sent the same questions).
8 – What investments need to be made in education? Should more be done to make post-secondary education more affordable to everyone?
Our schools are integral to our communities. Have I mentioned yet, that I’m a huge advocate for community development? Under both Liberals and Conservatives we’ve seen nothing but neglect for our public education system.
Now we’re at a point where rural schools are closing. Students are being bussed further away from home and for longer periods of time. Schools are falling apart, much-needed repairs aren’t getting done. This isn’t good for teachers, students, or parents. It’s hurting our communities The system is broken, and it needs to change for the better.
9 – How would you describe the legacy of the current Kathleen Wynne government?
Ultimately, I think that people have less trust in Government to have a positive role in their lives.
10 – What is your biggest concern about having Kathleen Wynne or Doug Ford as Premier of Ontario? Secondly, why would Andrea Horwath be the best choice for Premier of Ontario?
The current Premier will continue to sell off Ontario’s assets and leave us all with less. The PC Leader will do the same, but faster.
Andrea is the only Leader with a plan to improve the lives of everyday people.
The campaign launch party is this Friday, May 18th from 4:30 to 6:30 at 105 Pitt Street. Come meet candidate Marc Benoit.