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(Posted 2:30 a.m., May 16)
Conservative candidate sets his sights on local Liberal seat

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Conservative Party candidate Andrew Lister is hoping to break the Liberal Party's 11-year hold in Ottawa-Orléans when Ontarians head to the polls on June 12. Fred Sherwin Photo

It's been 11 years and three elections since a Conservative last represented Ottawa-Orléans in the Ontario legislature.

Andrew Lister is hoping to break that streak. The Cumberland lawyer has been preparing for the recently called provincial election ever since he narrowly lost to Liberal incumbent Phil McNeely in 2012.

Despite entering the race as a relative unkonwn at the 11th hour, Lister managed to capture 40 per cent of the vote compared to 46 per cent for McNeely. More importantly he improved the Conservative result by six per cent from the previous election in 2007.

It was an encouraging outcome for Lister who already had his sights set on the next election, even though no one knew when the next election would be held.

Since securing the local nomination on May 22, 2012, Lister has been making the rounds and putting in the time to gain a better understanding of the riding, its residents and the issues that people care about the most such as the escalating cost of hydro, the lack of an adequate health care facility in the riding, and the need to improve Hwy. 174.

On the hydro issue, Lister is quick to repeat the Conservative promise to scrap the Green Energy Act along with the expensive subsidies for solar power and wind turbines. A Conservative government would also seek private investment in Hydro One and Ontario Power Generation and use the proceeds to pay down the debt both corporations have been carrying, rather than force ratepayers to continue to pay for it.

They would also slash the number of individuals making more than $100,000 a year in the energy sector, potential saving hundreds of millions of dollars.

Lastly,, Lister says the Conservatives would be open to purchasing hydro from Quebec which can produce it cheaper than Ontario.

"We need to get back to focusing on providing cost effective electricity to Ontarians There's no logical reason why we shouldn't be buying electricity from Quebec if it's cheaper than producing it ourselves," says Lister.

In terms of local issues, Lister says the Conervatives are committed to uploading Hwy. 174 from the city which would allow them to properly maintain it.

"If we are elected we will upload the 174 and take the responsibility for it from the City of Ottawa, make into one of those 400 series highways, or akin to it, so the province can then fix it with its own money," says Lister.

The province has already committed $5 million to carry out an environmental assessment on widening the highway from Jeanne d'Arc Blvd. to Trim Road and further east to Rockland.

Another issue that local residents are concerned about is the need for expanded health care facilities in the east end. The Liberal government has been promising to build a health hub in Orléans since 2009. The proposed site is on Mer Bleue Road on land purchased from the Taggart Corporation by the Montfort Hospital for $4.3 million.

The project has suffered numerous delays in the planning and design process, and while the Liberal goverment made a commitment to spend $60 million on the health hub in 2011, it has yet to be identified in the three provincial budgets since then.

"The people in Ottawa-Orléans frankly were lied to. They were led to believe that this thing was properly conceived and ready to go and it was financed. Well, you know it was none of the above," says Lister.

"There's a crying need for greater urgent health care locally, but the Liberals have no plan to do it. My position is I don't make promises that I don't know for certain I can keep. I think that would be irresponsible."

If elected, Lister says he will meet with the various stakeholders, take the best of their ideas and come up with a plan.

"I won't make promises I can't keep, but what I will tell you is the need is there and I hope to be able to bring it to fruition," says Lister.

Beyond the borders of Ottawa-Orléans, the Conservatives have made some pretty bold promises including a pledge to create one million jobs over the next eight years. Before Ontarians will see any long term gain, however, they will have to endure some short term pain.

A Conservative government would cut 100,000 public sector jobs, and freeze public sector wages. They would also eliminate the 30 per cent tuition grant brought in by the Liberal government in 2011 for college and university students.and merge Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program.

“The next number of years are not going to be easy," Conservative leader Tim Hudak recently told reporters in Toronto. "Whenever you’re in a hole when it comes to jobs or debt, it’s going to be tough slogging. But the longer you postpone that, the deeper the hole gets, the tougher that job is.”

Ontario voters will go to the polls on June 12.

(This story was made possible thanks to their generous support of our local business partners.)

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