Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with Progessive Conservative candidate Tyler Currie, Trinity-Spadina
Monday, October 1, 2007
Tyler Currie is running as an Progressive Conservative candidate in the Ontario provincial election, in the riding of Trinity-Spadina. Wikinews' Nick Moreau interviewed him regarding his values, his experience, and his campaign.
Stay tuned for further interviews; every candidate from every party is eligible, and will be contacted. Expect interviews from Liberals, Progressive Conservatives, New Democratic Party members, Ontario Greens, as well as members from the Family Coalition, Freedom, Communist, Libertarian, and Confederation of Regions parties, as well as independents.
Why have you chosen to involve yourself in the political process? Why did you choose to run in this constituency?
- I have been involved in the political process for a number of years now, stemming from my father’s two terms as a city councillor. My decision to run as a candidate was based on two things. First, I am very concerned with the cynicism I hear from people about politics, the political process, and most importantly, the politicians. With voter turnouts going down each and every year, and then four years of a McGuinty government that only made peoples’ cynicism worse, I was motivated to do what I could to change that. And that brings up my second reason, and his name is John Tory. He represents everything that politics and leadership should be. It’s about selfless public service, accountability, respecting tax payers, carrying a strong social conscience, and keeping your word.
What prior political experience do you have? What skills and insight can you bring to office, from other non-political positions you may have held?
- I have served on the Executive of the local Riding Association for the Progressive Conservative Party, and was an elected member of the student government at the University of Toronto. I bring a badly needed level of energy to office, matching the requirements of a young, vibrant riding in downtown Toronto, and something that is sorely lacking by the current representative who has been stale with his ideas, lacking in his momentum, weak in his influence, and dwindling in his motivation and effort to represent this riding to the level that it deserves. In a riding with so many students and young professionals, I offer a voice that reflects their interests, while understanding and appreciating the greater diversity of our area as well. I’m driven by results, and we have not had results in this riding for the past 17 years under the current representation.
Which of your competitors do you expect to pose the biggest challenge to your candidacy? Why?
- They are all fine people and worthy opponents. The incumbent is always the biggest challenge in an election, and I welcome the opportunity to compare ideas, thoughts, and visions for this city and our province. And regardless of the end result, it is imperative that we all maintain our commitment to improving our community by working together.
What makes you the most desirable of all candidates running in the riding?
- For 17 years, we have had an NDP representative who has sat in the opposition backbenches for the most part. This has meant that the voices of Trinity-Spadina residents has been soft, and getting real action to improve their lives locally has been the unfortunate result. Together with a John Tory government, I will provide a voice within a governing body to ensure that Trinity-Spadina’s needs and concerns are finally addressed adequately and appropriately. Knowing Mr. Tory, who is a lifelong Torontonian, this partnership will be a prosperous one for this riding. Our party’s leader believes that your word isn’t just important – it’s EVERYTHING. I proudly share that principle, and I know the residents of Trinity-Spadina share it as well.
What do you feel are the three most important issues to voters in your riding? Are these the same top three issues that are most important to you? What would you do to address these issues?
- As the only candidate in the three major parties to actually live in Trinity-Spadina, I share the sentiments of my fellow Trinity-Spadina residents in pointing out these three issues in particular:
- Toronto’s fiscal situation. Currently, Toronto is having financial issues and the City Council is looking to implement taxation powers granted to them under the City of Toronto Act, which will look to pay for its shortfall by reaching into the pockets of hardworking Torontonians. I feel like there’s enough money coming out of their pockets already. John Tory will ensure that the city is spending their money efficiently, and will then operate under the theme that property tax money should be used primarily for LOCAL programs. This means that we will look to begin uploading social services following a provincial-municipal review that will be ready in time for Toronto’s next budget and a PC government’s first budget. Additionally, a John Tory government will put all CA$1.1-billion in Gas Tax revenues into Transportation, including $800-million in Public Transit---$150-million in the first year, with much of that going to the GTA.
- Taxes. In addition to the local taxes that Toronto residents fear will be coming down the pipes, they are suffering immeasurably from the rapidly escalating property taxes they are faced with. Some property assessments have gone up as high as 150%, leaving people on fixed incomes, particularly seniors, struggling to face this challenge and often deciding to sell the home they’ve lived in for years. John Tory doesn’t feel this is fair or necessary, and that’s why we are introducing a 5% cap on rising assessments per year, so people can budget for marginal increases instead of a massive hike out of nowhere. And of course, we will get rid of Dalton McGuinty’s #1 broken promise, the regressive health tax, beginning immediately in our first year by taking it completely away from those that it hits hardest --- people earning less than $30,000 per year.
- Health Care. Nowhere has Dalton’s broken promises affected peoples’ lives more than in health care. Saying the ‘health tax’ was going to health care was his first irresponsible doing, as that money just went to a general tax revenue stream. Then he spent $2-million more on an advertisement to say that wait times were decreasing…only to have the Auditor General and the Ad Standards Council of Canada tell him to take the advertisement off the air because it was false and misleading advertising. He said he’s hire 8,000 nurses, and then barely reached half of that…but still spun the numbers to mislead the public some more. This is unacceptable. We will put $8.5-billion more into health care, hiring nurses and operating seven nurse-led clinics in the province. We will implement a comprehensive doctor recruitment strategy to ensure that more Ontarians have access to a family physician (the number of physicians accepting new patients has dropped 50% since the Liberals took office). We will invest $100-million into both Long-Term Care and Home Care so that people have the dignity to live their lives in comfort, so they can get the urgent care they need, and so that their families are at peace knowing their loved ones are looked after. Leadership matters in this province, and nowhere is it more evident that we have been lacking it than in the vital area of health care.
What should be the first order of business in the 39th Legislative Assembly?
- To begin the removal of Dalton McGuinty’s regressive, punitive health tax.
Are the property taxes in your riding at a fair level for the amount of services received in the municipality?
- Absolutely not. There are two issues here. One is that property assessments are rising at an absurd level, which is why we propose to cap them at 5%. Secondly, Toronto is using this property tax revenue to pay for services that go above and beyond what a municipality should be in charge of. We look forward to the provincial-municipal review to be presented in December so that a John Tory government can upload services off of the municipalities so that these property tax dollars aren’t spread so thin.
How can the province lead the way in stimulating job creation?
- We need to make this province attractive to invest in once again. Manufacturers struggle under escalating energy costs. 140,000 well-paying manufacturing jobs have been lost. The CD Howe Institute cites Ontario’s tax system as the worst in the country in terms of stimulating an economy. We will remove Dalton’s Capital Tax that stifles job and business growth. We will provide incentives for business to invest in our province, as opposed to the Liberal strategy which includes tripling taxes for a diamond mine that described the action as being something they’d see in a third world country. There are many reasons why we are dead last in the country in economic growth, and all of them are tied directly to the mismanagement of the Dalton McGuinty government. Fair taxing, reliable energy, and real economic leadership is required in Ontario, and John Tory, a man who has experience as the head of a multi-billion dollar company, is the one to provide just that.
What are your views on the mixed member proportional representation (MMP) referendum?
- Personally, I will be voting ‘no’ in this referendum. This is not a statement that says I am pleased with the current FPTP system, nor is it my opinion that FPTP is without its inequities. I will certainly respect whatever decision the public makes on this referendum question, and I do feel that the posed question was constructed in a democratically fair process. My issue is that we’d be eliminating one problem, but ushering in a whole new set of problems to replace it. The new system would bring in 39 ADDITIONAL politicians --- more politicians is never a good idea! Similarly, the additional representatives will not be accountable. They will not answer to a local riding. They will not be selected by the public, but rather by a Party’s bureaucracy. And I am concerned that a situation may exist where multiple members could be from a given geographical region, allowing them to use their collective influence to get more infrastructure, investment, and problem-solving solutions to the regions from which they hail, at the expense of the areas that are represented by a sole representative. In summary, I’m not aware of any electoral system in the entire world that is ‘perfect’, and granted that there are imperfections in our current system, it does not warrant bringing in a system that has as many (if not more) flaws. I am more in favour of pursuing internal reform, increasing accountability of local representatives, ensuring more ‘free votes’ in the legislature, and finding ways for the governing and opposition parties to govern this province more efficiently and respectfully.
What role, if any, does "new media" play in your campaign, and the campaign of your party? (websites, blogs, Facebook, YouTube videos, etc) Do you view it as beneficial, or a challenge?
- In a riding as young, creative and tech-savvy as Trinity-Spadina, we certainly see the new media as an opportunity to reach our constituents and also help our goal to get more youth interested in the political process. Much of our campaign material has a ‘call to action’ to our website, preserving trees with a one-sheet flyer that asks recipients to look for further information on tylercurrie.com. Similarly, on this website I have my own blog that I update regularly, a link to my Facebook profile and Campaign Group, a link to our MySpace page, a link to our Flickr album, and most importantly, a series of short YouTube videos where I speak to the issues that are important to our community. The new media is a great opportunity to expand our political process and I think it is imperative that more candidates and parties take advantage of this in the immediate years to come.
Of the decisions made by Ontario's 38th Legislative Assembly, which was the most beneficial to your this electoral district? To the province as a whole? Which was least beneficial, or even harmful, to your this riding? To the province as a whole?
- Oddly enough, I will choose a negative decision that will have a net-positive effect. The City of Toronto Act gave Toronto taxation powers, but the bill did not include the vital suggested amendments recommended by PC caucus members, and John Tory voted against it because of that. The uproar of Toronto citizens after facing additional taxes, and then the brief shutdown of community centres, highlighted the need to re-visit the provincial-municipal responsibilities breakdown. Our campaign has provided the answer for Toronto’s struggling fiscal situation, and the city and its residents will be better off in the next four years because both the city and province will be run more effectively and more efficient as a result.
- The most harmful thing is McGuinty’s health tax. $9.3-billion worth of broken promises are wrapped up in that health tax, and the cynicism that I have met at every door in our riding is directly inflated by the shameless, reckless, and irresponsible decision.
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