By Nicole Watts, Sarah Selvanayagam, Michelle Liao
Local Liberal incumbents say they’re standing behind Stephane Dion as their leader, despite recent polls showing his personal popularity is dramatically low heading into the Oct. 14 federal vote.
John McKay of Scarborough-Guildwood, says he thinks highly of Dion’s leadership.
“He is probably one of the brightest [and hardest working] people I’ve ever met in my life,” he says. “He is a fierce debater and I think in his own way he would be a very good choice for Prime Minister.
“But I’m conscious that he doesn’t really necessarily connect with people as well as he could.”
McKay says it’s because of Dion’s way of speaking and his reserved nature that he is unable to connect with English Canada.
Pickering Scarborough-East candidate Dan McTeague also says Dion is capable of being a strong leader for Canada.
“I think Mr. Dion is a lot like Jean Chretien, he’s very underestimated. I think he’s doing very well,” he says.
McTeague added the Liberals have gone up in popularity since the election started, and he thinks the Conservatives have peaked.
Recent polling does not reflect that belief.
Derek Lee of Scarborough-Rouge River agrees with his fellow Liberals in giving his support to his party’s leader.
“The only poll that matters to an MP or candidate is the one on election day. I am a Liberal, I represent the Liberal team and party, and support my leader 100 per cent,” says Lee in an e-mail interview.
“He and the Liberal party have put forward a strong election platform which will benefit all Canadians.
“My future political judgment will be based on election results, not polls.”
One of the major controversial issues surrounding Dion’s platform has been the Green Shift environmental plan, and Scarborough’s Liberals also are fully supportive of this plan.
The Green Shift plan is to reduce income taxes while increasing taxes on fossil fuels and carbon emissions.
“In terms of what’s the right thing to do for the economy and the environment, it’s absolutely the right thing to do,” McKay says.
He adds the plan is very realistic.
“We’re all going to be paying more money for carbon, so the real question is how can you offset that cost? So we’ve chosen to do it through the income tax act,” he says.
McTeague says there’s more to the Green Shift than people realize.
“When people understand the plan, they like it,” he says. “It isn’t just about pollution, it’s about enhancing investments in new technologies, it’s about keeping jobs in Canada, it’s about creating a cleaner environment.”
Lee is also in full support of the Green Shift plan.
“It is viable. It will tax fossil fuels, not gasoline,” he says. “You don’t have to worry about the price of gas. All money collected through carbon taxes will be directly transferred to income tax cuts.
“So overall there will be no additional tax burden on the people.”