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Flaherty makes no promises about the runway

Mayor Victor Fedeli and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty review the numbers that support the case to keep the Jack Garland Airport runway at 10,000 feet.

Mayor Victor Fedeli and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty review the numbers that support the case to keep the Jack Garland Airport runway at 10,000 feet.

Now is not the time to make promises is what Canada’s Finance Minister Jim Flaherty told reporters about the fate of North Bay’s runway during his visit with local Nipissing-Timiskaming Conservative candidate Joe Sinicrope Monday, meanwhile, Conservative party leader Stephen Harper was making campaign promises elsewhere in the country.

“I heard about it already this morning from Joe and he certainly briefed me on it and I look forward to meeting the mayor and hearing what he has to say about it. I imagine I am going to leave North Bay a lot more informed on this subject than when I arrived and that should help when we get back to Ottawa. I want to see what it is all about, I’ve heard already about the economic aspects of it. We are for economic development we want our country to grow and we want all our regions to grow so we’ll give it a very hard look today.”

“But these kinds of issues have to be dealt with after the election in terms of the commitment of the government it wouldn’t be right for the government to be making these kinds of decisions in the middle of an election campaign. But to get information to get the story directly up front and personal that’s good for when we get back to Ottawa assuming that the people of North Bay and the rest of Canada choose to elect us.”

Before taking a tour of the runway Flaherty had a brief meeting with Airport manager Jack Santerre and North Bay Mayor Victor Fedeli where they had time to make the case that financially and for the greater good of the flying public it defies logic to shorten the runway. Santerre pressed upon the fact that it will only be a difference of $1,035,459 to rehabilitate the runway versus chopping it down to 6,500 feet. Plus the fact that the airport is always on the major carrier’s flight plans (out of Toronto, Hamilton and Ottawa) as the alternate airport in times of emergency and bad weather.

“This is a national treasure,” Mayor Vic tells Flaherty.

“Are we going to have these planes falling out of the skies when there is no place to land,” he asked the minister adding that the airport would go from profit to loss.

Flaherty told them during the presentation that the numbers made sense “I’m the money guy and what’s important to me is the economic impact.”

Following the tour Flaherty remained tight-lipped on whether a case was made or not.

“It certainly helps, I see what’s happened so far, and I see that Canadore College and Voyageur (Airways) the work that they’re doing it’s very impressive to see the asset that is here the 10,000 foot runway,”

“I heard from the mayor about some of the plans for the future what could be done here to leverage this asset really which is really a great asset for the community. So it helps and there is nothing like having a firsthand look and getting the information firsthand which I now have and I look forward to looking at this again after the election assuming that we are re-elected.”

Meanwhile, Flaherty also took time out to talk about other issues he sees as key to swaying the local vote to the blue side.

“I find that middle class Canadian people are drawn to our government they like lower taxes, we’ve reduced taxes more than $3,000 per family we said we’d reduce the GST, we’ve reduced it by 2 percentage points and we are paying down public debt, we’re balancing the books, we’re running surpluses I find that our actions speak loud and that people across Canada go yeah that’s the kind of government I want.”

“We have reduced taxes dramatically, the stimulus in the economy this year is about $21 billion the biggest tax reductions are the GST which applies to everybody all the time and the goods and services that they buy. And we’re going to continue to reduce personal taxes, as I said we have the tax back guarantee when we pay down debt we don’t just pay down debt we save a huge interest payment just as people do when they reduce the principle on their mortgages and we pass that right back every year to individuals in Canada and families to reduce their taxes,” he states.

When it comes to the environment he says the Conservative plan is simple and clear.

“Really simple about the environment, we’ll reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020, we’re going to regulate every industry in Canada, and we’ve spent an enormous amount of time on this in Ottawa developing this plan,” he explains.

“We’ve spent so much time on it because we can’t sacrifice the economy that is people’s jobs -- their ability to pay their car loans their ability to pay their mortgages for some theoretical environmental plan it has to be a solid plan, that’s our plan as I say we are going to regulate every industry in Canada.”

“Industry is concerned about it as they should be, because they are going to have to respond to this, this isn’t a gentle sort of plan it has deadlines and they are going to have to comply with it. But they know they’re going to have to do that and I think we all want an environment for our children that is better than what we have today.”