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Online with John Tory

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Nick Be from Toronto Canada writes: Mr. Tory we have not heard much from the opposition during this economic crisis. Can you tell us what your party has been doing to help Ontario survive this economic downturn and what your thoughts are for the future direction of the province.

John Tory writes: We have offered repeatedly to work with Mr. McGuinty on the economy as that is what I think people expect in times of crisis. We suggested all party committees which could tackle areas like manufacturing, small business, innovation etc but Mr. McGuinty rejected that offer. We have focused on the fact that in the long term, Ontario must once again become the most attractive place to invest in Canada. We are not there today because our taxes are too high and the government is in fact making it difficult for people to do business. I can't tell you how many people are throwing up their hands and telling me how the Ontario government and its massive squads of auditors and inspectors for every occasion are making their lives more difficult than the recession itself. In the shorter term we support the need for sensible infrastructure investment which will get going now and which will improve our productivity. We need dates, times, places and real accountability on this. We have also suggested revamping training programs so people can actually apply and get money which isn't the case now. In the end though, our economy will be strong again because people have confidence investing in Ontario. That must be the environment we are committed to creating here.

Jack Frost from Toronto writes: Hello Mr. Tory and thanks for responding to my question. During the election, Mr. McGuinty refused to discuss Ontario's de-industrialization crisis. And as we know this crisis has cost the province some 300 000 good paying jobs and has landed us the status of a have not province. Do you think that Mr. McGuinty could have saved some of our manufacturing capacity had he off-set the crippling cost of energy and a high dollar, with some form of tax cut?

John Tory writes: This follows a bit on the last question. Had we taken steps during the good times to make our taxes more competitive, to reform our regulatory system to make sure it protected the public interest but didn't act as a bar to investment and jobs, had we made some of the infrastructure investments when the government was literally awash in money, we would be better prepared today to weather the tough times and to keep jobs and investment here. Instead Mr. McGuinty just spent that money without regard to the return we would or would not get, without regard to getting any results. It was as if all that mattered was HOW MUCH you were spending, not what you were getting for it. Now we are at very high levels of committed spending, without any restraint measures, without having INVESTED in lower taxes to attract investment, without having built the infrastructure and it has made our troubles much worse than they had to be. I am hopeful that Mr. McGuinty has learned some lessons and even in the so-called "stimulus" package will not just spend for the sake pf spending, will insist on rigorous monitoring of budgets and timetables and will insist on transparency in terms of what is funded and why. This is true of the auto assistance too. We MUST know how the money is being spent and know that everyone including the CAW is at the table contributing to a positive outcome. Any less accountability than that will lead to a repetition of the programs which spent billions only to see the jobs disappear.

John Gehan from queensville Canada writes: If Mr. Tory wins the by-election will he still try to win a seat in Toronto in the 2011 election?

John Tory writes: I am trying to take these elections one at a time. I am very busy now earning the confidence of the people of Haliburton Kawartha Lakes Brock. I am ensuring that they understand how much I will model myself after Laurie Scott, how she will be at my side getting things done for people, and that will mean two people fighting for their needs and aspirations, not just one. Laurie Scott and I have agreed to discuss what we can do together to ensure that the best interests of the residents of that constituency are placed first in all respects and we will continue to discuss every aspect of that as we go forward after the by-election. In the meantime I am going to fight for the four laning of highway 35, for more broadband in the rural areas, for a proper risk management program for all farmers including beef and pork producers, for some real action on the doctors shortage, for a real plan for tourism and so on. My focus is on getting things done for the people.

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