Candidates for the Scarborough Rouge River Riding in tomorrow's Provincial election faced questions from students at Albert Campbell Collegiate Monday morning. They are seen here along with the principal of the school. (L-R) Raphael Rosch, Family Coalition Party; George B. Singh, Green Party; Bas Balkissoon, Liberal Party; Neethan Shan, New Democratic Party and Principal Roy Hu. (William Doyle-Marshall pix)
By William Doyle-Marshall
Students at Albert Campbell Collegiate Institute quizzed candidates in Thursday's provincial election who are seeking to capture the Scarborough Rouge River Riding currently held by Bas Balkissoon since it was vacated by Alvin Curling to take up the position of Speaker of the House several years ago.
Transportation, jobs and the economy, health care, affordable living, taxation and cost of education were among the issues on their mind. Participating in the assembly were Bas Balkissoon, Liberal Party; Felix Liao, the Libertarian Party; Raphael Rosch, Family Coalition Party; Neethan Shan, New Democratic Party and George B. Singh, Green Party.
Absent from what was billed as a debate were PC representative Ken Kim and the Freedom Party's Daniel Walker.
All candidates at the end of the discussion expressed appreciation for the way the students were in tune and showed concerns about very important matters.
Singh was touched by their desire to have transit fares frozen. "That hits directly home to their actual expense. Transit is the way that they get around if they don't own a car and most students don't own a car. That really hit home and the realization that we abuse our citizens by over-charging them for a simple thing such as transit." The University of Toronto student advocates for transit to be subsidized heavily so that riders don't pay $3 or $2-plus to get around. The question of health care: providing doctors for every citizen in the province is very important for Singh who insisted that resources be re-allocated properly because Canada has a good health system. "We have $39 billion towards health in this province and there is no reason why any citizen or Ontario resident should not have a doctor," he concluded
Rosch talked about waste in government, which he identified as one of the main platform points he has been pushing in all the debates. "The waste in government and all things related. The problem is not that we need to tax people more or that we need to do more with what we have. It's that there is so much waste in bureaucratic levels, in nepotism, in having your friend suddenly come up with an idea as a solution to a problem that you suddenly realize existed and you decide to hire him to provide the solution and then all this money disappears into that bureaucracy into these things that are designed just to keep your friends on the payroll; and your friends who have friends who then will get you the votes. It's a lot of politics that is hurting a lot of people," he argued.
Affordability related questions was the key resonating factor with students who traditionally were interested in education, Shan noted. "I think many of the students are also feeling the crunch of the lack of affordability in various things like TTC, tuition fees, jobs and so on.
Balkissoon, who toils non-stop to improve life for residents of the Scarborough Rouge River Riding, is proud of Premier Dalton McGuinty's support and investment of about $10 million pumped into Malvern, making life safer for all.
"So the fact that we brought trades back into the high schools is making a difference because we have kids who are going into those programmes and instead of being dropouts they are actually being graduates; so when they come out of high school they either have academic skills or they have other skills so that they could contribute to society," the MPP reflected.
Balkissoon is making another bid to be re-elected to the Ontario Legislature at October 6 election and is on the campaign trail daily reminding voters that he is still there and wants to continue working for them. Someone has been removing his lawn signs constantly in the Malvern end of his Riding. But the incumbent is not allowing that to bother him.
"Signs are a form of promotion but signs do not vote. I am paying attention to the people who I am depending on to go out and vote," he told Indo Caribbean World. His Finch Avenue East campaign headquarters is buzzing with activity as volunteers, acquaintances and campaign staff take turns collecting literature and signs for dissemination.
Shan said about 300 signs have disappeared from his campaign. It has been reported to the police and the Returning Officer. Admitting the act is pretty upsetting, he hopes for an early resolution. "My plea is for them to stop this so that democracy could survive in good environment," Shan added.
Guyana's President Bharrat Jagdeo (centre) recently visited the facilities of Canadian Superbilt Shutters & John's Specialty Blinds in Etobicoke, Ontario owned and operated by Guyana-born John Persaud. From L-R: Basil Punit, Robin Sukhu, John Persaud and his wife Janet, President Jagdeo, Reg Sukhu, Eric Narine, Dave Kamta and Guyana's Housing Minister Irfaan Ali.
In his recent visit to Toronto, Guyana's President Bharrat Jagdeo took the time to tour the very impressive showroom and plant of Canadian Superbilt Shutters and John's Specialty Blinds at 1571 The Queensway, Etobicoke. This highly successful business enterprise is owned and operated by well known Guyanese born patriot, John Persaud.
To say that President Jagdeo was impressed with the operation is an understatement. And why not - when he was greeted at the facility with a flag of Guyana fluttering proudly over the building and inside, pictures of the Kaieteur Falls, St. George's Cathedral and the Stabroek Market adorning the walls.
Entering the impressive office of John Persaud, the President observed on the proprietor's desk, a miniature Guyana flag with a photo of the Founder of the People's Progressive Party which now forms the government in Guyana, the late President Dr. Cheddi Jagan.
Persaud, whose Guyanese patriotism remains unshaken, immigrated to Canada in 1975. He graduated from Humber College and Ryerson and thereafter worked for Shell Canada for 15 years as a Research Technologist. After Shell relocated the Research Center to Calgary, Persaud decided to remain in Toronto and started his own business.
From inception, Persaud was determined to succeed regardless of the odds. He holds firmly to the belief that despite unfavourable external forces, his destiny is his to make. So in difficult times he works harder, he innovates and he challenges himself to be flexible enough to meet changing circumstances. He makes it a point never to complain nor to expect manna from heaven. With this attitude, he has attained success as an entrepreneur, and is a role model for the Guyanese community.
Despite personal successes, Persaud is never oblivious of his roots. He is very responsive to the needs of his community and his countryfolks. Three weeks ago, he and his wife Janet with support from Richard Aziz of Shabnam Radio were instrumental in raising over $15,000 for the Three Rivers Kids Foundation towards the medical expenses of baby Sachin who traveled to India earlier this year for surgery for a large VSD (hole in the heart), a PDA (patent ductus ateriosus) and severe pulmonary artery hypertension. Earlier, the Persauds organized two other fundraisers for fellow Guyanese who desperately needed medical care and are now in good health. Along with a team of friends they also raised thousands of dollars for the Guyana Flood Relief.
Persaud shares his business experience, knowledge and vision with Canada's number one home decorator Lynda Reeves, publisher of the Canada House and Home Magazine. With his exposure in the magazine, Persaud was able to build links that led to his making shutters for the Princess Margaret House in Oakville which raises money for Breast Cancer Research.
"We provide various coverings that include remote control, hardwire and hand-operated blinds that are at your finger tips," Persaud disclosed. He encourages customers to check out his company's services online and invites anyone to grace his showroom that's professionally outfitted with state-of-the-art technology. Needless to say, his honoured guest, President Jagdeo was most impressed.
"It's more than just window coverings. There's beauty, classic styles with privacy and superb elegance. All our wood shutters are manufactured entirely in our plant here, with a shorter waiting time," Persaud stated.
As a testament to the quality and value of service offered by Persaud's establishment, TV personality and comedian Mike Bullard wrote on Homestar.ca: "Canadian Superbilt Shutters are the best! The work was well beyond my expectations, done in a timely manner, the price was better than the estimates of two other companies. I am truly amazed at the difference it has made in my home. I will recommend this company to all my friends."
In the same manner that Persaud planned his work and worked his plan on his journey to success, he similarly sets the example by not only talking the walk, but walking the talk.