By Rick Vanderlinde
Newly-elected Conservative MP John Brassard knows he has to be more of a friend than a foe of the new Liberal government to get things done for Barrie-Innisfil.
“Rather than point my finger, I want to reach my hand across the aisle to say we need your help,” Brassard told Innisfil council last week.
Brassard carries on a tradition of Conservative representation for the area, taking over for Peter Van Loan and Patrick Brown, who remain strong proponents for the Conservatives in Ottawa and at Queen’s Park.
But unlike his predecessors, who were part of the majority Harper government, Brassard finds himself in a different role as part of the opposition.
Still, Brassard hopes to create relationships within the Liberal government to ensure his constituents aren’t overlooked simply because they live in a Conservative riding.
He believes Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government won’t take sides when it comes to investing in infrastructure to boost local economies.
“Mr. Trudeau has promised to direct spending in areas that will create economic growth. He’s planning to spend billions more on infrastructure,” Brassard said, adding the Hwy. 400 corridor through Innisfil and Barrie fits the bill for federal grants.
He pointed to new Hwy. 400 interchanges at Innisfil’s Line 6 and McKay Road in south Barrie as obvious improvements that are needed to create industrial growth.
“We can create an economic corridor that will start in Innisfil and lead to Barrie,” he said. “We need to take a more regionalized approach and work together to achieve common goals.”
Brassard also pointed to the need to continue to secure funding for Lake Simcoe, which received millions of dollars in grants during the Harper era. Lake Simcoe continues to be surrounded by Conservative ridings.
Innisfil Deputy Mayor Lynn Dollin asked Brassard to remind the Liberals of how important the federal gas tax is to help pay for road improvements. Innisfil receives about $1 million a year through the federal tax.
“I know you are a blue island in a sea of red, but please ask them not to replace the gas tax,” Dollin said.
Brassard said he understands the importance of the gas tax to municipalities after serving on Barrie City council for nine years.
“We really relied on that funding in the City of Barrie,” he said.
Brassard said he will update Innisfil and Barrie councils formally once a year, but will also continue a running dialogue with both mayors on federal issues impacting the riding.
“The best advice I received so far is to remember that you were elected in Barrie-Innisfil, you were not elected in Ottawa.”