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SEAN FRASER: An open letter to George Canyon, and those who believe tearing others down is the path to success

Sean Fraser is the Liberal candidate for Central Nova.
Sean Fraser is the Liberal candidate for Central Nova. - Contributed

Dear George,

We have met a couple of times at community events, and you seem like a nice person. I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume someone else wrote your most recent opinion piece in The News. That person seemingly spent all day Googling me in order to launch a series of negative and misleading attacks.

While your team was mining for ammunition to make mean-spirited and false arguments against me, my team was talking to voters and having conversations about the issues that matter most to them. 

Just like we did in 2015.

In response to your letter, I’d like to help you offer truth and transparency to voters:

• Our Government actually signed health agreements that see an average increase in funding to the provinces of 4.1% per year over 10 years. Your party is promising 3% increases and is suggesting to people that 3% is somehow more than 4.1%.

• The “carbon tax” you are so fixated on literally doesn’t apply in Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia has been a national leader on climate policy through successive governments of different partisan stripes and has a system to price pollution that is entirely independent of the federal government.

• We will not only meet but will surpass our Paris targets as part of the fight against climate change. I’ve stood in the House of Commons hundreds of times to debate Conservatives who barely believe climate change is an issue - you skipped the climate debate in Antigonish. Voters know where you and your party stand on this issue.

• You raised Stephen Harper’s “Children’s Fitness Tax Credit.” I didn’t support this program because I know that the low-income and middle-class families in our region who need help barely benefit from tax credits like this in the first place. Tax credits of this nature disproportionately serve the interests of wealthier people who want to avoid paying more taxes. Families in poverty dream of having a problem like that. That’s why we replaced a series of Harper’s boutique tax credits with the Canada Child Benefit which gives significantly more money directly to families that need it. Every Conservative Member of Parliament opposed this new and important benefit that provides $6,800 tax free to the average family who receives it in Central Nova.

• To your point on pensions, Bill C-405 was rife with problems that would have dramatically disadvantaged Canadian workers. Voters asked me to be their voice in Ottawa, so I had a duty to vote against that reckless and harmful Bill. Your suggestion that this Bill would have served the interests of workers at Northern Pulp is disingenuous and inappropriate given the serious stress many of our community members face as they stare down the barrel of a potential closure.

Your letter seems to lack the very qualities you call for: truth and transparency.

I encourage you to campaign against me by presenting competing ideas to local voters - but don’t be dishonest.

You called for transparency. One of the most important aspects of transparency in our democracy is the need for candidates to make themselves available to members of our community when they are deciding who to vote for. To date, you have skipped three all-candidates’ debates during this election including a session on seniors’ issues in Abercrombie, food policy in Antigonish, and climate change on campus at StFX. You also chose not to be present in our communities for the first half of the federal election campaign.

There are less than 300 hours to go in this campaign. Because you and your party have been so busy criticizing me and the Prime Minister, the public has not yet seen a Conservative platform to consider. This is not what transparency looks like. If you want to champion transparency, practice what you preach.

I also understand your campaign has made a habit out of misleading voters by asking whether I’ve done anything for our community to suggest that I have not effectively represented our area. Here is a short list of some of the projects we’ve advanced under my watch:

• $90 million for twinning Highway 104 between Pictou County and Antigonish;

• $100 million for cleaning up Boat Harbour;

• $6.9 Million for a new NSCC Skilled Trades wing in Stellarton;

• $29.9 Million for a new Institute of Government and Centre for Innovation in Health at StFX University;

• $18 million for a new seafood export facility at the Halifax Stanfield Airport (that’s in this riding);

• Millions in building or repairing wharves for the local fisheries on the Eastern Shore and Northumberland Strait;

• Replacing the aging MV Holiday Island PEI Ferry;

• Constructing a new year-round Farmers’ Market in Antigonish;

• Kickstarting a local Innovation Hub in Pictou County;

• Several hundred thousand dollars invested to improve local seniors clubs;

• Renovating community facilities to make them more accessible for our friends and neighbours living with disabilities;

• Investing in critical water and sewer infrastructure in Pictou County, Antigonish, and the District of St. Mary’s;

These investments just scratch the surface of what we’ve accomplished for our communities in the past four years.

Let me remind you that our communities are filled with good-natured and neighbourly people. Your approach to this campaign, as well as your party’s, is the kind of thing we have seen in hyper-partisan American politics in recent years and is not welcome.

Being a member of Parliament is not about me, nor is it about you. It is about our communities and making life better for those who live here.

Sincerely,

Sean

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