Meet the candidates: Lambton-Kent-Middlesex – Monte McNaughton

Monte McNaughton, PC
Hometown: Newbury
Occupation: small businessman
Political Experience: Elected to Newbury municipal council in 1997 at age 20, serving three council terms.
Community Involvement: Has served on the board of directors at Four Counties Health Services and as chair of the Newbury Economic Development Committee. Board of directors for Beattie Haven Retirement Home, the Strathroy and District Chamber of Commerce; has served as Co-Chair of the Advocacy Committee on the Chamber of Commerce. General manager and co-owner of McNaughton Family Shopping Centre in Newbury and was awarded the 2005 North American Retailer of the Year Award.

What is the best way to stimulate the economy in your riding?
Since 2005, Ontario has lost more than 140,000 manufacturing jobs and in 2007, a RBC forecast placed Ontario dead last in Canada in economic growth. I believe Ontario can be a world leader again but we must plan for the future. John Tory’s plan to build a more prosperous Ontario will address two important areas: providing the strong business fundamentals that make investors choose our province, and investing in the cultural, educational, health care and environmental benefits that make people choose Ontario as their home. John Tory and I will eliminate Dalton McGuinty’s phony, so-called ‘health’ tax, putting money back into your pocket, and creating jobs for Ontario.

What is the biggest environmental issue facing your riding and what can be done to solve it?
Dalton McGuinty promised to shut down our coal plants – but the plants are still open, the air is still dirty, and technology that could have made a difference was delayed. Ontario’s coal-fired plants are still as dirty as ever, they still contribute to 1800 premature deaths year and they still cost our health care system billions of dollars – another broken promise. John Tory and I will clean up Ontario’s coal-powered plants, something that should have been done years ago. Where Dalton McGuinty has failed Ontarians, we will install clean air technology, such as scrubbers where they will do the most good. We will look at how we can use the latest technology to further improve our environment. For the environment, leadership matters.

What is your solution for Ontario’s energy needs?
We need clean, reliable and affordable energy in Ontario. John Tory and I have a realistic and ambitious plan. It starts with expanding the role of all renewable energy sources, including wind power, solar power, natural gas, biomass power that helps turn waste into a resource, and geothermal and ground source heat pumps that draw energy from the Earth itself. John Tory will also replace Ontario’s aging fleet of nuclear stations. Nuclear power is safe, reliable, affordable and greenhouse-gas free. Where Dalton McGuinty has dithered for four years, we will meaningfully advance the process for building new nuclear capacity right away to replace the capacity that is reaching the end of its operational life.

Should we favour consumption taxes over income and corporate taxes?
Fairness is a basic value for Ontarians. It means that government should respect Ontarians by taxing them fairly and being careful with their money – something we haven’t seen from Dalton McGuinty’s four years of waste and mismanagement. In 2004, Ontarians saw the biggest income tax hike in history when Dalton McGuinty broke his ‘no new taxes’ promise. Dalton McGuinty increased our taxes by $2.6 billion a year with an unfair, regressive tax that places a higher burden on lower-income people. That is why John Tory and I have announced major initiatives to deliver more fairness to Ontario’s hard-working families. These include eliminating Dalton McGuinty’s regressive, unfair, so-called ‘health’ tax, capping property tax assessments at 5% and being fair to rural and urban residents alike.

Do you think the minimum wage should be raised to $10 per hour?
Ontario needs a realistic minimum wage that allows Ontarians at that income level to live with dignity and that ensures that our small businesses can grow, prosper and create jobs. John Tory and I believe that a sudden increase in the minimum wage to over $10 will hurt Ontario’s small business owners and will result in job losses. John Tory and I believe that it is time to take politics out of the game of setting the minimum wage by creating a special commission that would determine what the appropriate wage level should be and how fast the wage level should increase.

Do you support public funding for all faith-based schools?
Today in Ontario, 53, 000 students are attending faith-based schools totally outside our public education system. John Tory and I believe these kids deserve an education that meets the very same standards we all embrace. Right now, there is no way to be sure of that. There is little oversight of faith-based schools, what they teach, or who is teaching it. Our plan would invite these schools and the 53,000 kids into the public education system as long as they: teach the Ontairo curriculum; hire only fully qualified Ontario teachers; and agree to ongoing accountability (student testing, inspection, etc.). We can’t go on leaving these 53,000 kids out. They need and deserve an education that is consistent with our accepted Ontario public education standards.

Which electoral system will you be voting for: MMP or first past the post?
The Ontario PC Party has no official position on the upcoming referendum. I believe there are benefits to both systems and look forward to reviewing each in the weeks ahead.