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Friday, May 02, 2008

Dion talking 'fast and loose'

Dion talking 'fast and loose'; Local MP says Dion's promises ring hollow
Simcoe North MP Bruce Stanton says Stephane Dion was long on promises and short on specifics during his visit to Orillia last week.

Stanton criticized the federal Liberal leader for his vague vows to help Orillia clean up a brownfield on West Street for a new recreation facility.

"First off, on the question of the MURF (Orillia's Multi Use Recreation Facility), I think the leader of the opposition really talked in general terms," said Stanton Saturday. "Sort of philosophic support for brownfield remediation and sport centres and I don't think anyone in public service could disagree with that and I certainly support those sentiments as well."

In terms of brownfield clean up, Dion told The Packet & Times a Liberal government under his leadership would spend a large portion of any surplus on green infrastructure that would include brownfield clean up.

But Stanton says promises can't be made to specific projects until a program is in place and criteria are set out.

"My worry is without there being any kind of mechanism to allocate funds, as a politician you just can't be fast and loose with that kind of commitment," said Stanton.

Once approvals come through for the MURF and the West Street site, Stanton said he will work within the available programs to get funding for the facility itself as well as the brownfield rehabilitation.

The continuing clean up and monitoring of Lake Simcoe was also targeted by Dion on his trip to the Sunshine City. Dion said that while the federal government has committed money to the cause (totalling $30 million), that money isn't being put into programs in a timely fashion.

But Stanton said the Conservative government is waiting for recommendations from a citizens committee on how the money can best be used.

Local representation on the committee includes Orillia naturalist Bob Bowles, Neil Roe from Ramara Township, a founding member of the Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition, and former municipal councillor Dave Edwards from Oro-Medonte. Stanton said the results of that are expected sometime this spring.

When it comes to Lake Simcoe he doesn't think much of Dion's own record.

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"While he was the Minister of the Environment in the previous government his government did nothing with Lake Simcoe despite the years it was signalled to the federal government that it was continuing to be a problem for phosphorous loading and other pollution issues."

With the federal government set to make an announcement about the Trent Severn Waterway today Stanton said Dion was in error last week when he said Environment Minister John Baird had the report on the Trent Severn since December. While originally scheduled to be to the Minister in December, Stanton said delays meant the report didn't get there until February.

He understands the benefit of having a high profile party member such as Dion come to the riding as a way to raise the profile of candidate Steve Clarke and said it did much the same for him when then leader of the Official Opposition Stephen Harper visited the area in October of 2005.

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