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Election Notebook

Mayor’s provincial election issues, NDP job concerns in Guelph, Green Party wants school boards merged

Mayor Karen Farbridge has listed four Guelph issues that she’d like to hear comments on from the four main local candidates in the June 12 provincial election. In an entry she posted on her city hall blog on Thursday, Farbridge said she wonders what the Liberal, Progressive Conservative, NDP and Green candidates in Guelph have to say about these issues:
• Two-way, all-day GO Rail service – A significant amount of infrastructure work is required before two-way, faster, all-day train service can arrive in this region, she said. “I would appreciate knowing whether the successful local MPP will advocate for the financial resources to make this important infrastructure investment and two-way, all-day GO Rail service a reality”
• Guelph Innovation District – City council last week approved “an exciting vision” for the redevelopment of lands in the east end, including the provincially owned former jail lands, she said. “I would appreciate knowing what the successful local MPP would be prepared to do to ensure the city has a voice with respect to the disposition of the property”
• Designation of The Elliott – Farbridge wants to know what the successful local MPP would be prepared to do to ensure speedy provincial approval of The Elliott being designated as the municipal long-term care facility to be funded by the city
• Expanded presence of Conestoga College in Guelph – “Our economic development strategy identified the need to expand the presence of Conestoga College in Guelph,” Farbridge said. “I would appreciate knowing what the successful local MPP would be prepared to do to realize a much-needed expanded presence of Conestoga College in Guelph.”

Guelph facing jobs
crisis, says Gordon
Local NDP candidate James Gordon says Guelph is facing a jobs crisis, with a “very worrisome” drop in the proportion of people employed in the city.
“The numbers are stark,” Gordon said in a news release last week, citing figures from Statistics Canada. “Three years ago, seven out of 10 Guelphites were working,” he said. “Now it’s just over six out of 10. It’s very worrisome; no other region has seen a drop like that.”
The NDP has a plan to create jobs by rewarding job creators and getting energy bills under control, Gordon said. He said the party’s jobs plan will reward job creators with a tax credit worth 10 per cent of the income of new employees up to $5,000. The plan is capped at $250 million per year and would be in place for two years.
“It’s heartbreaking when capable people lose hope and stop looking for work,” Gordon said. “We’re a growing city. We’re adding thousands of residents each year, but we have more than nine thousand fewer people working in Guelph than we did in 2011.”
Guelph is fortunate to still have a manufacturing base that offers employment, “but too often those jobs are temp jobs with no security, no benefits and no pensions . . . We cannot thrive as a community if too many are left behind.”

Green leader slams Tory education plan
Green Party leader Mike Schreiner says his party’s call for Ontario’s public and Catholic school systems to be merged is better than what he calls a Tory plan to take a “sledgehammer” to the existing system.
Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak is proposing to make classes bigger, put fewer teachers in the classroom and cut nearly 10,000 support positions in schools, and “this sledgehammer will be taken to a school system that currently doesn’t have the resources to serve children with special needs,” Schreiner said in a news release Friday.
Hudak would make these cuts while maintaining public funding for Catholic schools, which costs the province about $1.5 billion every year, Schreiner said.
The Green Party is calling for a merger of the Catholic and public school boards into one system with French and English boards.
“We want to put money back in the classroom, especially for children with special needs,” Schreiner said. “We want to keep schools open that are threatened with closure because enrollments are divided between boards. We want to support all teachers, Catholic and public. And we want to resolve persistent human rights concerns, once and for all.” This is “a better plan for all Ontario kids than the

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