August 06, 2009
I hope you are all having a fine summer—despite labour disruptions and the weather! I know many of you are as busy now as you are the rest of the year—some of you in the tourism business are busier now than the rest of the year! In any case, I hope that you all have a chance to spend some time outside in our precious warm season.
For me, while the Legislature is not sitting, I have an opportunity to reach out to more of you, hear your thoughts and catch up in Don Valley West. To that end, we are holding a series of ‘coffee klatches’ or gatherings at local coffee shops. Our third of these gatherings is this Saturday at the Tim Horton’s store at Lawrence and Don Mills at 10 am until noon. These are an opportunity for us to talk about a whole range of issues but I am especially interested in people’s thoughts on the tax restructuring that we introduced in our March budget. Future dates for Coffee Klatches:
So far, I’ve heard a lot of concerns about the change to a single sales tax—I’m gathering the comments to pass along to my colleague, the Minister of Revenue, John Wilkinson. We know that this is a change that will have many impacts including, and most importantly from our perspective, the stimulation of the manufacturing sector. The change will make us more competitive in a world market and will ease the administrative burden on small and large businesses alike. Having said that, we recognize that there are impacts that will affect individuals and we have put in place a series of mitigation measures including one-time and ongoing rebates and permanent income tax cuts. You can get more information about the taxation changes at http://www.fin.gov.on.ca/english/budget/ontariobudgets/2009/chpt3.html
I’ve also been able to get out to some neighbourhoods to knock on doors and check in with constituents. Many thanks to the volunteers who have come with me—even though there is no election happening—we have had a great response with more volunteers than we have time slots! I believe that it is so important to find a variety of ways to talk with the people I represent because not everyone is interested in attending political meetings—but if I show up at their door, they often have an insight or a concern to share. Thank you!
Finally, I wanted you to know that I took the opportunity last week to attend a one-week French immersion program in Trois Pistoles, Quebec. The program is run by the University of Western Ontario for adults and runs concurrently with credit programs for university students but is much shorter. This was a personal venture financed by me as an individual but I share the information with you because I believe that the relationship among the Ontario Francophonie, the Anglophonie and the Allophonie (immigrants who speak neither French nor English as their first language) is extremely important to our strength as a province. As a politician in Ontario, I believe that it is my responsibility to do everything I can both publicly and privately to promote those strong and constructive relationships. I actually believe that the fact of our linguistic history, along with our historical relationship with First Nations, Inuit and Metis people are a defining part of our identity—on that last point, I am just reading John Ralston Saul’s A Fair Country: Telling Truths about Canada which is both provocative and fascinating. If any of you have read it, I’d love to hear your comments on it.
As always, if there are issues you want to raise with me, or concerns you want to share, please don’t hesitate to be in touch.
I hope this note finds you well. I may see some of you at various events over the next few weeks.
Best wishes to you all,