Tony Clement – Thomas Mulcair Doesn’t Get the North

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Fednor Minister Tony Clement

Fednor Minister Tony ClementOTTAWA – Leaders Ledger – For a man so concerned about the economic well-being of Northern Ontario, why is Thomas Mulcair pushing job-killing policies that would devastate the region? The NDP leader proudly boasts that he will raise corporate taxes to the tune of $34-billion, weigh down industry with a disastrous carbon tax and opposes resource development like the Keystone XL pipeline.

For all Mulcair’s bluster about FedNor funding, he doesn’t get what makes the economy tick or how jobs are created. In his whirlwind 72-hour tour of Northern Ontario, Mulcair decried magical funding numbers for FedNor he seemed to make up on the fly. Not only are the numbers pure fiction, but the real catastrophe is what would happen to job creators if Mulcair jacked up their taxes 20% as he intends. I guess Mulcair’s plan is to tax businesses more, take their money and then redistribute it through FedNor?

I am proud to be FedNor’s longest serving minister. Since 2006 FedNor has supported more than 1,500 projects throughout the North representing $358-million in investment.  In the last year alone we have provided funding to establish the first school of architecture in 40 years at Laurentian University, provided matching funding to help turn Ramsey Lake into a world-class destination for boating and dragon boat racing and invested in state-of-the-art robotics developer Penguin Automated Systems. NORCAT, the innovation centre where yesterday Mr Mulcair predicted the end of times, has received some $3.5-million over the years.

FedNor is an important resource that has helped businesses in Elliot Lake rebuild after the tragic mall collapse last year and has supported key infrastructure projects like the Thunder Bay Airport and the Timmins industrial park, which form the backbone of a competitive economy. And FedNor will continue to do that –its core funding remains virtually unchanged. If Mulcair understood financial documents – or cared to actually look at them – he would see a 0.43% decline in funding, not the 10%, 20%, 26% or any other number he is pulling out of his hat.

But the more serious issue is Mulcair’s lack of understanding of how jobs are created and his lack of faith in Northern Ontario’s entrepreneurs and businesses to create those jobs. One thing I have learned as Minister for FedNor all these years is how resourceful Northern Ontarians are. Unlike Mr Mulcair, I would never underestimate them.

Minister Tony Clement

Minister Clement is the senior Conservative Member of Parliament representing the Government of Canada responsible for FedNor and for the Ring of Fire.