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Online with John Tory

Continued from Page 4

John Tory writes: We have a pension guarantee program in Ontario which applies to some plans. There are huge questions today about the impact GM pensioners and their pension rights might have on that plan given current shortfalls. Mr. McGuinty owes us some answers on that for starters. I think measures which appear likely to be taken in the short term providing plans with the flexibility to take slightly longer to make up existing shortfalls are sensible. I think beyond that there is the need for a very thoughtful and fact based assessment of where plans stand and what threats there are to those plans and their ability to meet their obligations. I would be astounded if this information was not available so that we could then make an informed assessment of what needs to be done and what should be done. It is another example of an issue which all parliamentarians could work together if Mr. McGuinty was so inclined, which he is not.

John Stewart from Eden, Ontario Canada writes: Why is Premier McGuinty dragging his feet on his promised transition funds for tobacco farmers? He has been successful in forcing farmers out of business, now he is failing to provide the promised aid for stranded tobacco assets. The tobacco belt is getting a 1-2 combination from the elimination of tobacco and the decline in the auto sector. Why is the government forcing tobacco farmers to pay income tax to transition to another sector?

John Tory writes: The federal government put up some money to help tobacco farmers with the needed transition many months ago. Mr. McGuinty has left those same farmers twisting in the wind for a long time notwithstanding he has millions from tobacco tax increases and more millions from tobacco company settlements with which he could help the farmers. Those families are struggling, towns like Delhi and others are hurting badly and he does next to nothing. I can't understand it or explain it as getting on with the transition will be good for the tobacco region, good for those farmers, good for those towns and ultimately good for the agricultural economy. I will keep pressing him to act as I'm sure will Toby Barrett and Ernie Hardeman.

Tim Hall from Belleville Canada writes: Mr. Tory, what would you say is the single greatest lesson you learned from your 2007 campaign?

John Tory writes: You asked for one but I will offer two. First, religion, education and politics, in various combinations, are a volatile mix and best avoided. Second, extensive platforms can contain many good ideas but voters want you to focus on a smaller number of things which give them a clear choice between parties and policies.

Darren Yourk, globeandmail.com editor writes: Last question for this afternoon. Could you weigh in on the news that the Ontario Securities Commission is seeking a record penalty from the two top executives of Research In Motion Ltd. over their role in a stock option accounting controversy? How would you handle this if you were sitting in the Premier's chair?

John Tory writes: These things are handled and properly so by quasi-judicial tribunals which make their own assessment of liability or guilt and penalty. It is not the place of any Premier to substitute his or her judgment for that of the tribunal or apply any pressure. It is the job of the Government to make sure that laws are in place which ensure fair and transparent activity in the financial markets. I don't think we are there, even though we might be leaders in our own country. I think we need to look at separating enforcement and adjudication, we need to look at a separate court which can handle so called "white collar crime" and we need to look at the speed with which we do or do not deal with these cases compared to other jurisdictions. It seems to me we take much longer and prosecute less successfully which has the effect of decreasing confidence in our financial markets. I believe the OSC keeps the proceeds of any fines levied to operate their agency and if I am right and they levy large fines at any time in the future I hope they will use these funds to address these concerns. We should be leaders not just in Canada but in North America in transparent, effective rules and enforcement without impairing the ability of capital markets to function well as this is key to investment. I see no reason why we cant be that leader.

John Tory writes: May I take this opportunity to thank the readers/on line participants for their questions which covered a broad range of topics. Thanks to the Globe for making this opportunity possible. It is something i would happily do again. I apologize for any typos. My thumbs get more of a workout on the blackberry than my fingers on the keyboard these days. Thanks again to all who took part.

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