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Hoskins ready to embrace Green Shift

SIMCOE REFORMER: Monte Sonnenberg - Aug 1, 2008

Dr. Eric Hoskins has no reservations about the federal Liberals' Green Shift environmental program and looks forward to selling it to local voters.

"It's a bold visionary plan," said Hoskins, who will carry the Liberal banner in Haldimand-Norfolk in the next federal election. "It's the right one for Canadians right now. Climate change is real and the world is working on ways to put a price on carbon. I strongly support it."

If elected with a majority, the federal Liberals intend to impose carbon taxes worth $15 billion on the largest generators of greenhouse gases. This will be matched by a $15 billion reduction in income taxes. The Green Shift will lower federal taxes on families and individuals while polluting industries could ease their burden through clean technology and reduced emissions.

Liberal leader Stephane Dion is banking Liberal hopes on the Green Shift agenda. Some Liberal candidates have expressed reservations about the strategy but Hoskins isn't one of them. Hoskins is confident he can explain the plan's complexities quickly and easily to any voter who wants to learn more.

"It's taxing the polluters," he said yesterday. "It's taxing bad behaviour. The lion's share is going to come from the 700 industries in Canada that are the worst polluters. And the auditor general will be required to ensure that the plan is truly revenue neutral."

Hoskins played host yesterday to a visit from Nova Scotia MP Scott Brison, the Liberals' critic for industry, science and technology. The pair huddled with a who's who of the local Liberal establishment at the Little River Inn in Simcoe before touring local industries and fielding questions from reporters.

Unlike his Liberal colleagues at Queen's Park, Brison thinks Canada can continue to enjoy the benefits of low-cost electricity from coal while continuing to improve the environment.

Brison feels Canada and the rest of the world is in a race against time because China, Russia, India and Brazil are gambling their economic future on coal technologies that promise to aggravate the problem of global warming.

In response to a question on the proposed closure of the Nanticoke Generating Station in Haldimand, Brison said it is in Canada's best interests to research, develop and market clean coal technologies before dirty factories and power plants around the world proliferate out of control.

"Around the world coal energy is going to be with us for a long time," Brison said. "We have to move in this direction. I'd like to make Canada the best place in the world to research, develop and market this technology. The world needs all forms of energy and we need to save the world while we are using them."

Brison and Hoskins fielded a host of comments and questions on issues affecting Haldimand-Norfolk. High on the list was the ongoing stalemate over native land claims in Haldimand, now into its third year. Cayuga Coun. Buck Sloat warned the pair that Ottawa must resolve this problem soon or be prepared to watch this part of Ontario sink into economic despair.

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