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Monday, 11 April 2011

Red, Blue, or Orange? Part 2

 A few days have passed and the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC)have released their platform document for the upcoming election.

The 67 page document is a mix of "we have" and "we will" and covers a gambit of topics seen as important by the Canadian Conservative Party. For our purposes we need to dig deep, and see what the promises are for rural parts of our country, and specifically for rural NL. Reading through the Table of contents, following listing on topics of the economy, tax issues, armed forces and legal reforms you will find a section titled "Here for communities and industries." This is where you will find a mix of community and industrial commitments...because it makes perfect sense to cover community issues along with big business issues... Headings and commitments from the "Cities Towns and Rural Communities" include:

PERMANENT FUNDING FOR MUNICIPAL INFRASTRUCTURE
The Need in NL: As referenced in previous Rural Lens entries here and here, the need for rural infrastructure is continuously growing...
The Promise: We(CPC) will introduce legislation to confirm this permanent funding for municipal infrastructure through the Gas Tax Fund.(This money already exists and it should have always been permanent)

SUPPORTING COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS AND VOLUNTEERISM
The Need in NL: Our rural communities remain alive based on the efforts of volunteers. They operate in environments with very limited resources and shrinking volunteer numbers. They need resources. And this is Volunteer week!
The Promise: Social Impact Bonds (?), Simplifying funding agreements and reduce red tape, test new ways to engage the private sector, develop a volunteer matching service. (All sounds pretty vague but could be good if we knew details and they were followed through on)

HELPING AT-RISK YOUTH AVOID GANGS AND CRIMINAL ACTIVITY
The Need in NL: While we have youth at risk, gang activity is thankfully not an issue, especially in rural NL.
The Promise: We (CPC) will renew our support for the Youth Gang Prevention Fund, and make it permanent.

MORE DOCTORS AND NURSES FOR RURAL COMMUNITIES
The Need in NL: We need more Doctors and Nurses!
The Promise: We (CPC) will help attract new doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners to these communities, by forgiving a portion of federal student loans for those who agree to practice in under-served rural or remote areas. (This could actually help and has been talked about for some time)

DEFIBRILLATORS IN EVERY HOCKEY ARENA IN CANADA
The Need in NL: We've started this already. See here.
The Promise: We (CPC) will ensure that every recreational hockey arena in Canada has a defibrillator, and we will support training for attendants in using them.

VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS TAX CREDIT
The Need in NL: All volunteers need support, including Firefighters 
The Promise: Tax break based on minimum hours of service. (Good idea)


END THE INEFFECTIVE LONG-GUN REGISTRY
The Need in NL: Not sure we really needed the registry but it cost a lot of cash and it seems to be operating just fine.  
The Promise: Scrap it completely. 


HUNTING ADVISORY PANEL TO THE MINISTER OF THE ENVIRONMENT
The Need in NL: Hunting is very important but I don't see how a new committee will help? 
The Promise: Create a new advisory panel to the Minister. 


STRENGTHEN PROPERTY RIGHTS
The Need in NL: As this is specifically with regard to the Species at risk Act I have not heard of any issues of that nature in NL.
The Promise: We (CPC) will strengthen the rights of landowners, by reviewing the Species at Risk Act with a view to ensuring that when compensation is owed, compensation will be paid.


IMPROVE AND EXPAND CANADA’S SNOWMOBILE AND RECREATIONAL TRAILS
The Need in NL: New money for trails sounds good. No $ value identified though...
The Promise: We (CPC) will (provide) additional funding for upgrades and new trails.


RELOCATE THE HEAD OFFICE OF CANADA ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT FOR QUEBEC REGIONS
The Need in NL: How is this a National issue? Really.  
The Promise: Relocate its head office to a centre or centres appropriate to all the regions of the province. 


ACCORD ON QUEBEC’S OFFSHORE RESOURCES
The Need in NL: I can't even to begin to describe how this is dangerous for NL. It specifically mentions Old Harry and the Gulf of St. Lawrence...   
The Promise: We will implement the accord on Quebec’s offshore resources, by tabling the necessary legislation in Parliament.

So after a long list of issues identified there are a couple of points that may be of benefit to rural NL but in general it looks like more of the same...


*Please note that you should see the original document for full details, as these are merely snippets taken from the platform document.*

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