News Local

Graydon reflects on the issues

Greg Vandermeulen

Emerson MLA Cliff Graydon hosted an open house to celebrate the opening of his new office in the Altona Mall on Dec. 16.

Only a few months after the election, Graydon said the PC party is largely working on the same issues they presented during their campaign.

"I think we outlined our issues very well in the election," he said. "The NDP's platform was based on five-year-projections they had no intention of meeting."

Graydon said the NDP will not be able to eliminate the deficit in five years, without cuts to services or increases in taxes.

"Where's that money going to come from?" he asked.

Graydon said this term will also see people emerge, who will want to replace Hugh McFadyen as leader in 2012.

But, he cautioned, whoever decides to go for it, will need to be ready to commit.

"If someone is going to run for leader now, you have to make an eight year commitment," he said.

Would Graydon consider running himself? "If I was 10 years younger," he said.

Before the most recent election approached, some issues galvanized PC supporters. One of those was Bipole III, the plan to run the new hydro line down the west side of the province, adding millions to the cost.

Although the PC's lost the election, Graydon said they aren't giving up on that issue.

"We'll keep on doing what we've done in the past," he said. "Pointing out the sheer folly of going down the west side."

Although the NDP get another four years to implement their plan before another election occurs, Graydon said a leaked memo from Manitoba Hydro suggests that project may not happen as quickly as first thought.

"There's an indication that Manitoba Hydro may not have the money to go forward at this point," he said.

Graydon said it also remains to be seen if export contracts can actually pay for the expensive line, something he doubts with the downfall in the economy.

"If you can't make it on export, then you've got to raise local rates," he said. "Are they willing to do that?"

Graydon said he expects litigation from farmers to tie up this project. "I don't see those individuals giving up easily," he said.

Recently Manitoba has been shut out of the "New West Partnership" a deal that brings B.C., Alberta, and Saskatchewan together on shared priorities.

Manitoba was excluded because we are a "have-not" province, meaning we rely on federal transfers to meet our budget.

"There's certainly a stigma that goes with being a welfare recipient," Graydon said of Manitoba's status.

He said being left out of the New West Partnership is not an isolated incident.

"We're seeing it happen more and more in the business world," he said.

Graydon said one example is how the three western provinces promote their livestock industry.

"We don't have a slaughter plant, we couldn't promote it if we want to," he said.

Graydon said Manitobans need to realize they can't let the debt keep building. "At some point we have to pay this debt," he said.

Southern Manitoba has ridden out the recession better than other parts of the province, but Graydon said in order to keep on growing, infrastructure is needed.

"Manitoba has some things going for it, but what they don't have is expenditures that would facilitate growth," he said, adding the NDP had no highways south of Hwy. 1, on the list of planned upgrades.

Flooding of Devils Lake and the border road/dike issue are also not solved yet.

Graydon said recent news that the province is considering relocating Lake St. Martin First Nation, after they spent $1 million lowering the lake level is alarming. "Did we not know that (they would be relocated) in June, July or August?" he asked.

Graydon said band members just want to get home, and instead the government is keeping them from their stability. "We've inconvenienced band members," he said.

As the year comes to a close, Graydon said there are plenty of issues remaining to be addressed. Holding the NDP accountable will be part of the job for the next four years.