Wong a big step up from Fantino: NDP critic

Originally published by iPolitics.ca on May 18th, 2011. To go to the iPolitics website please click here

“She seems to have some really good credentials and she’s had that kind of community involvement that I like to see when it comes to something like this,” he said.

That community involvement includes serving on the boards of the Rosewood Manor in Richmond, the Rotary Club of Richmond, and the Benevolent Relief Seniors Care Society. Marston said he’s “optimistic” her handling of the file will be a vast improvement on Julian Fantino’s management.

He pointed to Fantino’s repeated refusal to publicly debate the issues affecting seniors, including passing on a debate hosted by the Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP) during the election, leaving Conservative candidate, Bernard Trottier stood in for Fantino.

“Mr. Trottier — who’s brand new — got shoved into that, because Fantino wouldn’t show up,” Marston said.

But Marston said he’d look forward to working with Wong if he remains seniors critic when the NDP shadow cabinet is announced next week, but that with plenty of new faces, Marston has told Jack Layton he’d prefer to focus his attention on one of the other critic positions he’s been holding, such as human rights.

“I had four critic areas before, so I’m looking forward to a little relief,” he said.

Though not a traditional headline-grabber, the seniors file got a much bigger profile during the election. The CARP’s head of advocacy, Susan Eng, made that point in a press release Wednesday.

“There has been unprecedented attention paid in this election to issues that resonate with older Canadians — and for good reason, they always vote,” she said.

“Every party made promises to address pension reform, caregiver support, eliminating poverty among pensioners and dealing with elder abuse. And now that there is a strong majority government with an official Opposition party that was even more expansive on those promises, there will be no excuse for not acting on these pressing issues. ”

Based on the prime minister’s comments following Wednesday’s cabinet announcements, seniors still appear to be near the top of the agenda.

“With a renewed mandate and a national majority, Canadians can count on this government to pursue measures that create jobs and growth, support seniors, protect our health-care system, fight against crime and reduce and eliminate the deficit,” the prime minister said.

© iPolitics.ca

Keywords: seniors, healthcare