Simcoe Reformer: MONTE SONNENBERG - October 12, 2007 - October 12, 2007
Norfolk Mayor Dennis Travale expects local MPP Toby Barrett to put partisanship aside and work with the McGuinty Liberals for the betterment of Haldimand-Norfolk.
With Wednesday's provincial election behind us, Haldimand-Norfolk again finds itself on the outside of a majority government looking in. Despite this, Travale said all concerned are obligated to promote the best interests of Ontario and its constituent ridings.
With regard to Barrett, Travale said the MPP can start by re-assessing the Tories' position on coal-fired power generation.
The Ontario Progressive Conservatives favour greater reliance on scrubbers and other clean-air technology to prolong the life of the Nanticoke Generating Station.
However, the McGuinty Liberals are determined to replace coal with nuclear reactors, clean-burning natural gas and renewable sources of energy. Now that the Liberals won a second majority, Travale said it is time for Barrett to get with the program.
Travale hopes Barrett joins with Norfolk and Haldimand councils in the promotion of Nanticoke as an ideal site for a nuclear installation. The counties want to proceed with an environmental assessment and are interested in preparing a detailed economic impact study.
"I am disappointed that Mr. Barrett did not look at all options regarding the Nanticoke Generating Station and focused only on coal," Travale said. "I would ask him to take another look at nuclear and begin working with us on that."
Travale and neighbouring municipal leaders have been lobbying Queen's Park for support now that the tobacco economy is in decline. Members of the Mayor's Roundtable have asked Queen's Park to help diversify the local economy through the encouragement of new investment. They are also seeking provincial and federal support for infrastructure improvements that will attract new industry.
Travale said Barrett's return to opposition is mitigated by the fact that the tobacco mayors are working together to retool the local economy. MPPs representing these municipalities include Liberals Steve Peters in Elgin and Dave Levac in Brant.
"Whether you win or lose, you remain optimistic," Travale said.
Haldimand-Norfolk was startled recently when provincial treasurer Greg Sorbara suggested that native land claims disputes such as the one in Caledonia are not a provincial problem. Instead, Sorbara said it is Ottawa's job to find a solution because native affairs is a federal jurisdiction.
Yesterday, Haldimand Mayor Marie Trainer said the challenge for her is to convince the McGuinty government to take more responsibility for the unrest, which has caused upheaval in Caledonia and surrounding communities since February of 2006.
"Hopefully, there will be more understanding of our plight," Trainer said. "Our situation in Haldimand is spreading across Ontario, so hopefully other municipalities will begin putting pressure on the government. It's not just us having disagreements with First Nations. I think they (the McGuinty government) realizes someone has to address these issues. Someone has to address the issue of land titles. If you have title to your land, for example, no one should be allowed to trespass on it.
"The province is also in charge of the OPP. They are in charge of public safety. They did buy the disputed land in Caledonia. By doing that, they made this a provincial issue. They made it their problem. They have a big stake in this. They can't shirk their duty. Both governments (Ottawa and Queen's Park) have to come to some sort of agreement on how to handle this. This idea of (natives) taking over all of Canada is just not appropriate."
For his part, Fred Neukamm, chair of the Ontario Flue-Cured Tobacco Growers Marketing Board, is looking forward to resuming talks with federal and provincial officials on the question of an industry buyout now that the election is over.
Neukamm said all MPPs in the tobacco belt support the board's effort to secure a multi-million dollar buyout of 271 million pounds of quota. The issue, Neukamm said, crosses party lines. He is confident members of the Liberal caucus are speaking up on behalf of tobacco farmers to the McGuinty cabinet.
"The electoral process brings some discussions to a halt," Neukamm said. "Having the election behind us is positive. It allows us to get back to business."
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