London-Fanshawe constituents tell MP that HST relief and CPP reform absolutely needed

OTTAWA – Connecting with more than 6500 constituents in a telephone townhall live from the nation’s capital, London-Fanshawe MP Irene Mathyssen heard many different concerns from constituents. Overwhelmingly though, affordability issues dominated the discussion, as constituents expressed frustration with a Conservative government that is ignoring the increasing difficulties people are having making ends meet.

The constituent responses to the instant polls were especially telling, with 96% of people agreeing that all political parties should be supporting the NDP call to take the HST off of home heating costs, and 93% of people saying the HST has contributed significantly to the rising costs of just getting by.

“The questions and the responses I heard tonight made it very clear to me that rejecting the budget as tabled in parliament today is the right decision,” said Mathyssen. “My constituents were talking to me about the bread and butter concerns families face every day in this community. I heard from a number of seniors struggling to stay in their homes, and people with disabilities who don’t have enough to live on. These folks need a government that takes poverty seriously. I heard from a student who can’t afford to stay in school and from two members of a family who have been lucky enough to find new jobs after their old jobs were lost, but who can’t make ends meet because they cannot find an affordable childcare space.”

Mathyssen said the most difficult call was the senior whose wife recently passed away. “He said to me ‘I was born and lived here all my 76 years, and paid my taxes. But I got the funeral bill and there was that HST. I was so hurt and so angry. I know you care Irene, but when are we going to get a government that cares?” It was all I could do not to cry “ Mathyssen said. “People are hurting, and I have to tell them their Prime Minister doesn’t care!”

Mathyssen also got a positive boost when NDP Leader Jack Layton joined the call to talk directly to her constituents.

“You’ve got one of the hardest working MPs, not just in the NDP, but the whole parliament,” said Layton. “The work she’s done to try to protect severance pay, to fight for affordable housing and childcare, and for our veterans is simply remarkable. So if Stephen Harper wants an election, I hope you’ll get behind Irene and support sending her back to parliament.”

Layton stayed on the call to take questions from Londoners with Mathyssen for the final 20 minutes of the townhall and encouraged those who didn’t get to ask their questions to stay on the line and leave a message so that Irene could get back to them personally.