Meet the candidates: Huron-Bruce – Paul Klopp

Paul Klopp, NDP
Hometown: municipality of Bluewater. Ward of Hay.
Occupation: farmer
Political experience: Provincial: M.P.P. Huron and Parliamentary Assistant Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and Rural Affairs 1990-1995. Municipal: two-term deputy mayor, Municipality of Bluewater and Huron County councillor. Huron County Federation of Agriculture: past-president, and past regional director; presently director-at-large and chair of finance committee.
Community involvement: past-president and current board member of Zurich Agricultural Society; board member of Huron County Pork Producers; committee member of Ontario Soybean Growers’ Marketing Board (District 8); supporter of local hockey and skating clubs and other community events; board member Hay Communications Cooperative Ltd.

What is the best way to stimulate the economy in your riding?
One of the best ways to stimulate the economy in Huron-Bruce is to get serious about solving the farm income problem. Farm income has been at record low levels. Because of high input costs, and low commodity prices, it is costing farmers more to produce food than what they’re getting paid for it. This means that farmers aren’t investing in new equipment, or purchasing household goods from the local stores, etc. Negative ripple effects extend to agribusiness. A risk management program (RMP) is a good start to ensure that Ontario farmers have the dollars where they need to be, when they need to be there. The NDP would commit $300 million each year, starting with the 2007 crops, and this would include a retroactive payment for the 2006 crop year. This would be a good kick-start for the economy in Huron-Bruce. There would be positive ripple effects: when farmers do well, the rural economy does well.

What is the biggest environmental issue facing your riding and what can be done to solve it?
Waste management problems are the largest environmental issues.
Sewage: municipalities need money to upgrade their systems. The NDP would continue with more aggressive funding projects for towns and villages in Huron-Bruce that have been waiting in the queue for over ten years in some cases. Dumps: the NDP will be aggressive with a strategy based on “reduce, reuse and recycle.” We will help municipalities reach diversion goals with funding and not just regulations.
To help reduce the amount of product going into the waste stream, we will extend the producer responsibility laws which would ensure manufacturers and distributors bear their fair share of the cost of dealing with wasteful packaging.

What is your solution for Ontario’s energy needs?
There is no single solution for our energy needs. First of all, we need to reduce the demand for energy. Incentives to replace old appliances with new energy-efficient ones would be continued. Advancements in solar and wind power would continue to be explored as new technologies are being developed and should be supported. We are committed to decreasing automobile pollution through increased fuel efficiency.

Should we favour consumption taxes over income and corporate taxes?
Before I can give an opinion on this, I look forward to the Green party candidate for Huron-Bruce explaining the concept.

Do you think the minimum wage should be raised to $10 per hour?
The short answer is yes, the minimum wage should be increased. People should not be forced to earn below the poverty line. Minimum wage increases have not kept pace with inflation. In real terms the minimum wage has decreased by eight per cent since 1995 and twenty per cent since 1976. The Ontario coalition for social justice notes that in 1976, the minimum wage was 9.9% below the poverty line for a single person; but as of 2005 it was approximately 32% below the poverty line. In the long run, we will have a healthier economy and less social problems if working people earn enough.

Do you support public funding for all faith-based schools?
I can appreciate that some faiths wish to have their own schools, but I am not in favour of funding all of them. In fact, they may not even want that funding. The real issue is fixing the unfair Harris/McGuinty education funding formula. The NDP would overhaul the funding formula.

Which electoral system will you be voting for: MMP or first past the post?
I’m supporting MMP. Please remember this is a non-partisan issue. I encourage all voters to get informed and then to make their own decision, regardless of their party stripe.