By Charlie Senack, Manotick Messenger
Background: The riding of Carleton has sent a Conservative to Queens Park every election since 1871. In the latest June 2018 election four years ago, Progressive Conservative candidate Goldie Ghamari won with a little over 51 per cent of the vote. Before politics Ghamari was a small business owner and former lawyer..
Q: You are wrapping up your first term in office and are seeking a second term as Carleton’s representative at Queens Park. What do you find some of your biggest accomplishments are from the last four years?
A: When the Liberal government was in power for 15 years, not only did they make a huge mess across the province, but they really ignored the needs and concerns of people in Carleton. There were not enough schools, there was not enough infrastructure, no one in Ottawa was really being supported.
Riverside South had been trying to get a public high school for 15 years. I was very, very proud that within two years of being elected, I was able to secure the funding. I’ve also managed to secure funding for eight other schools, three of which are in this side of the riding.
On the infrastructure side one of the local announcements I’m really excited about is the Manotick Arts, Culture and recreation association. They applied for funding to rebuild and revitalize the centennial community centre, and make it more accessible and family friendly, while providing resources and a place for families to go and work out. The province is giving them over $360,000 to help get that project built.
Q: Saying you are elected for a second term, what are some of your wants for the riding of Carleton and Ottawa as a whole?
A: There is still a lot I want to do and I think the last four years really speaks to our government’s priorities and commitments. We are the only party that will get it done, and looking at it on a local level, actions speak louder than words. We have a plan to build new homes, new roads, new highways. We have a plan to give you a break and put more money back in your pockets while making Intario more affordable. With the pandemic that’s been difficult for all of us and nobody ever really imagined we’d be going through this. I’m so glad we are on the other side of it now and I can’t think of anyone else being at the helm other than Premier Doug Ford.
Q: You mention Premier Doug Ford and his handling of the pandemic. There has been some controversy over some decisions that were and weren’t made. How do you feel the government’s response has been?
A: To date we have invested nearly $20 billion in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. That money includes over $3 billion in support to 210,000 small businesses; $60 million to help businesses offset their costs; over $1.6 billion in the 2020-2021 school year alone for safe schools reopening $1.5 billion to support long term care; and $703 million to add over 3100 hospital beds.
I think moving forward we know that COVID is not going away, but the important thing we look at is even though COVID has become an endemic, it’s really about hospital capacity and utilization. Even though numbers are up it’s not the same as before. We have vaccines, PPE, there are antiviral medications.
Q: Funding for new schools has been a priority for you, but as the community continues to grow, the need for even more is present. Infrastructure will also need to keep pace. If elected again, what are your main pieces you want to advocate for?
A: We are going to be investing $14 billion over the next 10 years to build schools and give the next generation the skills they need to work in the workplace. If I’m re-elected, I’ll be fighting for a piece of that funding to get even more schools built in the area.
With respect to traffic and safety, I know that’s a big concern and a number of constituents have reached out to me about. It really is at the municipal level but my role as your provincial MPP is to communicate and share these concerns with the local city councillors and make sure that constituent voices are being heard.