Natyshak, Ramsey open doors to constituents, look forward to 2017


By Ron Giofu


The federal and provincial representatives of the Essex riding held a joint open house Friday evening to wish everyone the best of the holiday season and to look forward to 2017.

Essex MP Tracey Ramsey and Essex MPP Taras Natyshak and their staffs welcomed constituents with the two New Democrats agreeing that assisting the people in the riding trumps accomplishments they may have made in the House of Commons and Legislature respectively in 2016.

“Highlights for me are not necessarily the stories that you would even hear about,” said Natyshak. “They are the people that come into our office to tell about what is important to them. To see them get their issues resolved and to give them and their families support is the highlight.”

Natyshak said it has been an easier task with a federal NDP colleague right next door.

“People come in here and put a lot of trust in us,” added Ramsey.

Ramsey said people come in looking for answers and “we do everything to help them.” She added she is completing her first full calendar year and there is much co-operation with Natyshak’s office.

Essex MP Tracey Ramsey (left) and Essex MPP Taras Natyshak held a Christmas open house Friday night in Essex. The federal and provincial members have their office side-by-side, which they say helps them meet the needs of the constituents of the Essex riding.

Essex MP Tracey Ramsey (left) and Essex MPP Taras Natyshak held a Christmas open house Friday night in Essex. The federal and provincial members have their office side-by-side, which they say helps them meet the needs of the constituents of the Essex riding.

Seniors are struggling in the Essex riding, Ramsey said, and pointed out that a seniors teleconference was so popular that they couldn’t take enough calls. She added there are still federal employees seeking their rightful pay but added there were a number of local jobs added through the Canada summer jobs program.

Skyrocketing hydro rates continue to dominate the provincial agenda, Natyshak stated.

“People can’t afford to turn on their lights,” he said, calling the ability to turn on lights a “basic” of living.

“We’re hearing that from all segments of the community,” said Natyshak. “They are mad and they have a right to be.”

Natyshak added that “costs are out of control” and that the NDP is fighting in the Legislature against a government that “continues to make wrong decisions.” He said they are firmly opposed to selling off Hydro One.

“We know privatization of electricity costs will be more than publicly generated electricity costs,” he said.

Ramsey said youth are also struggling in the riding, as many of them have to have multiple jobs to make ends meet. She hopes to make that a bigger priority in 2017.

“These are people who went to school and paid a lot of money to educate themselves,” she said.

Having families and new homes are out of reach for many of those people, Ramsey added.

Both politicians state they want to work more with the local community in 2017. Natyshak noted there are already people doing well regarding social policy and economic development and they are looking to bring their ideas to both levels of government. Ramsey said they will look at every avenue to push ideas through for the people of this community.


Federal budget has “a lot of missed opportunities,” says Essex MP



By Ron Giofu


The Trudeau Government’s federal budget is lacking in some key areas, according to Essex MP Tracey Ramsey.

“My general overview is that there are a lot of missed opportunities,” the NDP MP stated.

Some of the “missed opportunities” were in areas where the Liberals could have done more to “tackle inequality,” she stated, also accusing the government of “backtracking on key commitments.”

“Families in Essex are worried about their jobs and struggling to make ends meet but this budget told them they would have to wait longer for help,” said Ramsey. “The government missed an opportunity to really deliver change.”

Helping families find affordable child care was one area where the Liberals didn’t deliver, Ramsey said. She said families with two parents working shiftwork or where parents have to piece together two or three part-time jobs to make ends meet makes it difficult to find childcare.

“Trying to find childcare is really challenging,” said Ramsey.

The Liberal budget failed to make promised investments to improve home care access for seniors, restore home mail delivery or lower the small business tax rate, she added.

Essex MP Tracey Ramsey

Essex MP Tracey Ramsey

Regarding the home care issue, Ramsey said the Liberals promised $3 billion over four years doesn’t appear in the budget.

“There’s nothing,” she said.

Agriculture was also absent from the budget, Ramsey added. She said family farmers are hurt by “Liberal inaction on PACA or CETA compensation.” It wasn’t the first time since the Liberals took office that agriculture was not mentioned, she added.

“It was shocking to me when we heard the Throne Speech and agriculture was not mentioned,” she said. “Here we are with the budget and again it’s not mentioned.”

The government also continued the longstanding Liberal and Conservative practice of raiding the EI fund, she stated, with that resulting in “taking almost $7 billion contributed by workers and businesses and using it for general government revenues.

“I can’t believe the Liberals are repeating the mistakes of the past,” she said.

While investments were made, Ramsey said they fall far below $7 billion and she feared a two-tiered system was on the horizon. Four in ten Canadians can access EI and “money is going to be skimmed out of it again.”

The federal budget “also missed a key opportunity to fix problems with the Automotive Innovation Fund,” she added.

There are good things about the budget, she pointed out, including expansion of broadband internet. She said there are still areas of the riding that don’t have high speed internet.

The reopening of a local veterans affairs office is also pleasing but hopes it comes sooner rather than later.

“I’m very happy to see the reopening of that office,” said Ramsey. “It’s desperately needed.”

Ramsey said she reached out to municipalities within the riding to gauge their needs prior to the budget and pledged to continue to work with them. Infrastructure promises fell “far short” of what was expected and there was “no plan” revealed as to how and when municipalities can access infrastructure dollars.

“Every budget is about choices,” concluded Ramsey, “and Liberals have chosen tax breaks to CEOs and profitable corporations over helping seniors, farmers, and the unemployed.”

Ramsey named international trade critic in NDP’s shadow cabinet


By RTT Staff

The newly-elected Member of Parliament has a new set of responsibilities.

Essex MP Tracey Ramsey was named critic for international trade last Thursday by NDP leader Tom Mulcair. Ramsey’s appointment was one of many as Mulcair named his shadow cabinet.

Tracey RamseyWEB

“It is an honour to be chosen as NDP international trade critic,” Ramsey stated on her Facebook page. “This is an incredibly important role to ensure balanced fair trade that benefits the lives of Canadians in a positive way. Much of my focus will centre around the TPP and its implications. I am committed to working hard with MP’s to ensure that fair trade is the result of all our collective efforts.”

Ramsey was officially sworn in as the riding’s Member of Parliament last Monday. She knocked off incumbent Conservative candidate Jeff Watson in the Oct. 19 federal election.

“I’m honoured to be appointed to the NDP shadow cabinet as the trade critic. Our experienced and united team is ready to get to work on behalf of Canadians as the progressive opposition,” added Ramsey. “The Liberal government made a lot of commitments in this campaign. We’re going to hold them to their promises.”

In a press release sent out by the federal NDP, the shadow cabinet is described as “a combination of seasoned veterans and new voices” and it will “focus on the top priorities laid out by Mulcair at the NDP’s first caucus meeting last week.”

“Our shadow cabinet is ready to get results for Canadians and ensure the new government fulfills its promises for change,” said Mulcair in the release. “This is a strong NDP team that’s ready to move forward with hope and optimism.”

Watson, Ramsey, Festeryga square off in debate


By Ron Giofu


The Conservative, Liberal and NDP candidates for Essex squared off in a debate last Wednesday afternoon sponsored by the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The debate – which preceded similar ones in the ridings of Windsor-Tecumseh and Windsor West – saw Conservative incumbent Jeff Watson, NDP candidate Tracey Ramsey and Liberal candidate Audrey Festeryga talk trade deals and agriculture among other topics.

Regarding the latter, Watson said farm incomes and farm equity is up but more trade deals are needed to get their farm products to market. Conservatives would keep taxes low while the NDP would raise them, Watson added, though Ramsey countered by saying debt loads are up 70 per cent on the family farm.

Ramsey added New Democrats would protect supply management, something Festeryga said the Liberals will do it as well.

While trade deals are important, Festeryga added Liberals know the importance of supply management.

Ramsey noted trade deals have to be done fairly while Festeryga added Canada has to be competitive in a global marketplace. Watson noted Canadians depend on trade and exports, adding that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has entered into trade deals that have been good for Canada.

Single-sports betting was touched on with Festeryga stating it has to lead to good jobs and jobs that stay local. Ramsey said she was in support of it, believing it can lead to good jobs, but the bill has been stalled in the senate.

Watson believed the idea presents “real risk” and that unintended consequences could occur. He added the integrity of the sports has to be preserved as well.

On the topic of fighting terrorism, Watson added the Conservative approach is to confront the terrorists where they exist. He added Canada has to be vigilant on the home front as well, including removing the citizenship of known terrorists.

“Only a Stephen Harper government will keep Canada safe from terrorists,” Watson declared.

Ramsey said the NDP takes the role of protecting Canada very seriously and accused Watson and the Conservatives of fear-mongering.

“It’s the politics of fear. It’s the politics of division and distraction,” she said.

Conservative Jeff Watson, New Democrat Tracey Ramsey and Liberal Audrey Festeryga debate each other last Wednesday afternoon at the Caboto Club in Windsor.

Conservative Jeff Watson, New Democrat Tracey Ramsey and Liberal Audrey Festeryga debate each other last Wednesday afternoon at the Caboto Club in Windsor.

Festeryga said Canada has a role to play against ISIS and that prime ministers are expected to keep Canadians safe and secure. She said Harper’s mission against ISIS is an “unfocused and unending combat mission.”

How each would represent the riding in Ottawa was discussed, with Ramsey stating she is proud to be part of a party that allows MP’s voices to be heard and she would bring the voices of Essex to Ottawa. She accused Watson of bringing the Conservative voice to Essex and “imposing” it on the region.

Watson used his voting record as an example of him using his voice in Ottawa while Festeryga said leader Justin Trudeau wants his MP’s to represent their constituents issues in Ottawa.

“We need to have our voice heard for a change,” Festeryga added, before referencing the area top unemployment rate for five straight years.

Festeryga said she fully understands the issue of health care, having worked on behalf of those in the industry. She added she is also a breast cancer survivor, and knows that while Ontario has a great health care system, it needs to have funding increased and made into the priority it deserves.

Watson said Conservatives have supported universal health care and said the Liberals slashed $25 billion in transfer payments to provinces the last time they were in power. He told the crowd Conservatives have made record transfers to provinces while the NDP platform has “hidden costs” and is not realistic.

Five million Canadians have no family doctor, said Ramsey, adding a Tom Mulcair government will stop “Stephen Harper’s cuts” and strengthen Canada’s health care system.

Watson concluded by saying he should be re-elected as Canada needs a proven leader to “keep Canada safe and the economy strong.” He said Conservatives offer low taxes and have brought in 1.3 million new jobs while the NDP would raise taxes.

Ramsey said her party would create jobs and give greater opportunity for the people of Essex.

“I know the people of Essex and I know how hard they work,” said Ramsey.

Festeryga believed it will be a Liberal government that will be elected Oct. 19, adding that she doesn’t think Essex needs a backbencher calling himself “a billion dollar MP.” She added the NDP has failed to show leadership and that their plans would take four to eight years to be implemented.

Federal Essex candidates continue on the campaign trail

By Ron Giofu


Candidates in the Essex riding continue on the campaign trail with one of them coming to Co-An Park in McGregor.

Liberal candidate Audrey Festeryga was on hand with several of her supporters recently distributing frozen yogurt from Nuccelli’s to voters as well as talking issues. Festeryga said she is hearing a lot of good response on Liberal policy proposals, including recently announced proposals such as flexible parental EI insurance, Canada child benefit and the flexible working arrangements in federal jurisdictions.

Liberal candidate Audrey Festeryga distributes frozen yogurt to Mark and Katelyn Bovenkamp during a recent campaign stop at Co-An Park in McGregor.

Liberal candidate Audrey Festeryga distributes frozen yogurt to Mark and Katelyn Bovenkamp during a recent campaign stop at Co-An Park in McGregor.

As part of their platform, the Liberals have also been touting increasing infrastructure funding by $60 billion over ten years. Liberal leader Justin Trudeau has also vowed to repeal Bill C-24 and cut the middle class tax rate.

“We are knocking on doors and people are very receptive,” said Festeryga. “We’re getting a lot of people asking for signs.”

Festeryga pledged to fight for the people of Essex, if elected Oct. 19, and used a theme that is becoming common in this campaign about what people are wanting.

“I am hearing it’s definitely time for change,” she said.

Noting her background as a lawyer, the Liberal candidate added she has experience in both negotiations of multi-million dollar deals as well as labour relations thus is qualified for the job as Member of Parliament and wouldn’t have to learn on the fly.

“I can hit the ground running,” she said. “People understand that when I get to their door.”

Festeryga added voters are seeing that she is willing to work hard as she is campaigning daily in the riding. She has also been holding meet-and-greets around the area and has appeared at several festivals in the region.

“The voters are seeing I’m working hard and I’m working hard for them,” she said, adding she is hopeful Trudeau will visit Essex at some point this election campaign.

NDP candidate Tracey Ramsey reported that her campaign is “going very strong” and that she believes people are willing to shift the way they vote and go with Tom Mulcair and the NDP.

“The momentum is building and building. It’s getting stronger as we go along, which is so positive,” said Ramsey. “I think there is a deep desire for change. People are excited about going in a different direction and that means the NDP in Essex.”

Jobs continue to be an issue, she added, stating the NDP has a “clear” plan to create jobs by cutting taxes for small and medium-sized businesses. She said she has been hearing people are opposed to a $36 billion cut in health care transfer payments to provinces, something she said the Conservatives favour. The ongoing Mike Duffy trial has also having an impact locally, added Ramsey.

“It’s tough to escape from and people are tired of corruption in the government,” she said.

Treatment of veterans is another issue Ramsey said she is hearing as she accused incumbent MP Jeff Watson of having a “lack of commitment” and an inability “to stand up and fight for the people who fought for our country.” The NDP would reopen veterans affairs offices in Canada, she added.

People are coming to her campaign office and asking how they can help, Ramsey continued, and that there is an excitement in the riding for her campaign.

“More and more Canadians are putting their trust in Tom Mulcair and in Essex, we want to bring that change to Ottawa,” said Ramsey. “It’s very exciting for the NDP in Essex.”

Ramsey has been campaigning with Essex MPP Taras Natyshak and Ramsey said the provincial member is “doing a fantastic job standing up for the people in Essex” and that is being seen at the door.

“The difference is the NDP cares about the people in Essex and is helping them,” she said.

Watson, the Conservative candidate who has served the last 11 years as Essex MP, said his campaign is going well.

“The longer campaign is giving us far more opportunity to engage people at the door. More conversations are a good thing,” said Watson.

The longer campaign allows voters to become better informed, he believed, and allows candidates a chance to be more accountable. He speaks to voters about his record, he said, with the record including delivering billions to the area including “tens of millions” in Amherstburg for such projects as the wastewater treatment plant, the Libro Centre, and road rehabilitations.

The campaign is also about which leader has the experience to keep the country safe and the economy growing.

“The NDP and Liberals promise risk, not change.”

Watson said the Liberals and NDP both feel Canada has “no role to play” in combating ISIS and would bring in higher taxes that could potentially drive out jobs.

Canada has a balanced budget, said Watson, adding “there is no other major economy in the world that can boast that.”

The Conservatives have a “low tax approach,” and has an “enviable” record of job creation. Canada has created 1.3 million new jobs since the last recession, he said. Farmers have experienced the best years of revenue the last two years, low income seniors have been assisted. On the environment, local accomplishments include establishing a priority natural area in Essex County. A permanent home tax credit and improving benefits for veterans are among the planks of the party platform, he added.

Watson, who is adopted, said he has championed the issue in Ottawa starting with a motion in 2008, a report on the motion in 2012 and three straight federal budgets assisting families.

“All of these areas are to help Canadians step forward and adopt the 30,000 Canadian children waiting for adoption,” he said.

Watson said he has stood strong for Essex.

“Windsor, with two NDP MPs, has a loud voice but has delivered zero results,” he said. “I’ve had a credible and influential voice that has delivered billions to Essex County. Essex County has, in me, a strong and influential voice in Ottawa.”