THUNDER BAY – Local New Democrat MPs John Rafferty (Thunder Bay–Rainy River) and Bruce Hyer (Thunder Bay-Superior North) are welcoming Stephen Harper to Northwestern Ontario. The two MPs are also challenging him to support key pension legislation and address the crucial economic issues facing the region.
“First, I welcome the Prime Minister to the region, but more importantly, I want him to know that the constituents of my riding want their retirement income secured and want Bill C-501 passed which would protect pensions,” said Rafferty.
Hyer said “The economic policy choices that have been made by the Harper government have held back economic development in Northwestern Ontario”.
“It’s great that the Prime Minister is paying us a visit, but he should answer for his policy choices.” said Hyer. “Harper introduced Bill C-62, his HST bill, and whipped his Conservative MPs to pass it in just four days, without debate,” said Hyer. “I don’t think he realizes how much this tax is hurting households in the North.”
Hyer pointed out that rising utility bills to increased gas prices is burdening the North. The Conservatives are now hiking Employment Insurance premiums for both workers and employers alike.
“Now just isn’t the time to raise payroll taxes and to make it more expensive to hire people,” said Hyer.
Rafferty highlighted the virtual collapse of the forestry, pulp and paper sectors under the Conservatives’ watch. “Everyone in Northwestern Ontario knows that we must make an economic transition in the region, but we are losing 1,000 jobs a month in the forestry sector,” said Rafferty. “We can’t even think of transition until the federal government enacts policies that stabilize our primary sector, secure our jobs, and protect our pensions.”
Rafferty’s bill, C-501, is due to be examined in committee this fall with a final vote likely coming in the spring. New Democrat MPs were the only party to oppose the federal HST bill, C-62, which passed by a vote of 253-37 last December.