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Local mayors say they expect good things from the new government

By Nick Ogden [1] and Brock Ormond [2]

BELLEVILLE – Change is coming to Parliament Hill, but how will it affect local municipalities?

Next Wednesday, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau [3] will be sworn in as Canada’s new prime minister. This will undoubtedly be the start of major change throughout the country. But will there be immediate change locally? QNet News asked mayors from this area for their thoughts on the new government and what they hope it will mean for their municipalities.

 Jim Harrison [4], mayor of Quinte West [5], said election night was not what he expected.

Neil Ellis [6]

Liberal MP-elect Neil Ellis will be representing the new Bay of Quinte riding in Ottawa. Ellis has past experience in the area after two terms as Belleville mayor. Photo courtesy of neilellis.liberal.ca

“I thought there would be some changes, but I didn’t think it would be as drastic as it is,” Harrison said. Bay of Quinte [7] Liberal candidate Neil Ellis [8], who easily won the riding, “had more experience as an elected official and as a mayor (of Belleville). Maybe that’s what made the difference. Or maybe it was, as everybody’s agreeing, a vote against (Conservative Prime Minister Stephen) Harper.”

Before the election, Quinte West was well-served by the Conservative government, Harrison said, adding that the municipal council worked well with former Conservative MP Rick Norlock.

But working with Ellis will not be an issue, he said: “Mr. Ellis is a good man with a good understanding of municipal needs.”

The biggest thing he wants to see from the new federal government is consistency in funding for municipal projects, Harrison said. Right now, he explained, “nothing is consistent. You can apply for a grant – you might get lucky and hit it and you get something. Which is really, as far as I’m concerned, useless.”

http://www.qnetnews.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Jim-Harrison-interview-clip.mp3 [9]


He said he hopes to see funding for infrastructure projects, such as water-treatment plants and the expansion of Canadian Forces Base Trenton, being allocated on a one-third/one-third/one-third basis – that is, equal amounts contributed by the federal, provincial and municipal governments.

He is looking forward to the change that’s coming, he said, but he doesn’t necessarily agree with every platform the Liberal party has put forward.

“I’m not sure the legalizing of marijuana is the right thing to do,” Harrison said, although he added, “But I don’t know enough about that.”

He also expressed some concern about Trudeau’s pledge to accept more Syrian refugees: “I’m not sure how many refugees we should be accepting into Canada, and how quickly that should be done … I believe that if we do, then there should be a good screening process so that we have people here for the best – for their best, and our best.”

Meanwhile, Prince Edward County [10] Mayor Robert Quaiff [11] says he is “looking forward to sitting down with (Ellis) and figuring out a plan for Prince Edward.”

Quaiff said he was not surprised by the Liberals’ majority-government win or Ellis’s victory over Conservative candidate Jodie Jenkins: “I said right at the start that it would either be a squeaker or Neil would run away with it.”

He predicted that the change in government will spark interest in people across the country:

http://www.qnetnews.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Robert-Quaiff-interview-Clip.mp3 [12]


Mike Bossio [13]

Liberal MP-elect Mike Bossio defeated longtime Conservative MP Daryl Kramp in Hastings-Lennox and Addington riding. Photo courtesy of 983flyfm.com

Quaiff added that he foresees no issues whatsoever in regard to working with Ellis, and that he expects the relationship will be a good one, just as it was with Conservative MP Daryl Kramp when Prince Edward County was part of the old riding of Hastings-Prince Edward.

Bay of Quinte isn’t the only riding to have experienced major change. The newly created Hastings-Lennox and Addington riding will also have a Liberal MP, in Mike Bossio [14]. Centre Hastings [15] Mayor Tom Deline [16] says he expects to work with Bossio just as well as he did with Kramp:

http://www.qnetnews.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Tom-Deline-interview-Clip.mp3 [17]


Deline also said that he wasn’t surprised by how close the race was between the Liberals and the Conservatives in the riding. The vote against Kramp was, “no question,” a vote against Harper, he said.

Like Harrison, Deline said the main issue he sees is the need to establish a steady stream of financial support for smaller municipalities.

“The biggest problem for the previous government – and the new government – is … making sure that rural Ontario, in particular Centre Hastings, gets a fair share of those dollars, and (that) they’re not legislated to death so that we can’t even get our fingers on some of it,” he said.

Deline said he doesn’t think that one level of government can change Canada on its own: “The federal government needs to work with all the provinces (so that) a reasonable amount of dollars are transferred from the federal government to the provinces with reasonable requirements so that municipalities can help themselves.”