The moment Dalton McGuinty asked for the provincial legislature be dissolved, political workers in east Scarborough geared up for what could be some close races in the Liberal-dominated area.
Here’s a rundown:
In Scarborough-Guildwood, candidates from all three main parties are
competing for the seat left vacant by Liberal MPP Mary Anne Chambers who
retired for health reasons.
Five candidates are running in Pickering-Scarborough East and seven candidates, including Liberal incumbent Bas Balkissoon, are striving for Scarborough-Rouge River.
However, the competition began well before Sept. 10, said Balkissoon.
“The election is not a 30-day period,” he said. “People make judgments based on your daily performance. It is 365 days a year, every year.”
Saying that underlines the task facing the Liberals – dealing with opposition parties’ accusations that the premier has broken many promises in the last four years, including that of the health care tax.
“That was McGuinty’s big, big, super big broke promise,” said
NDP candidate Sheila White, who’s also running for Scarborough-Rouge
“No new taxes, and then everybody $950 tax, which punishes the working families, the modest income, low income people the most.”
White says her party would reverse the tax once in power, but Balkissoon says it’s irresponsible to say so because the money collected has already been invested in the health care system, education and the economy.
“The Liberal government committed that money to health care, to infrastructures, to hire doctors and nurses,” Balkissoon said. “If you remove the health care tax, are you going to reverse what we did and we go back in the health system to what it was four years ago?”
The same debate is happening over early childhood education. While most candidates support the proposed suggestion to change kindergarten classes from a half-day to a full day, Balkissoon suggests any party agreeing with the initiative should make sure they have the revenue first.
At the same time, Horace Gooden, Conservative candidate for Scarborough-Rouge River said he didn’t see any need to change the current system and that Scarborough’s public transit is “not an issue.”
Contrary to what Gooden says, most candidates listed public transit as one of the most important issues concerning their riding.
Although Liberal candidate Margarett Best, Scarborough Guildwood, thinks the $17.5 billion allotted for public transit by the provincial government will solve the problem, her opponents do not agree.
“The municipal government doesn’t get enough money; we need to upload [financial responsibilities] back to the province so the city can handle its services,” said Andrea Moffat, NDP candidate for Pickering-Scarborough East.
Offering another solution, NDP’s Glenn Kitchen representing the Scarborough-Guildwood riding suggested increasing the annual fee, which TTC buses have to pay for their license plates.