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Kingston East News talks to your provincial candidates

Submitted by on June 10, 2014 – 8:05 pm

By Jim Barber, Staff Writer

PC Mark Bain says PCs are telling voters the hard truths, not popular platitudes

Mark Bain believes Ontario is falling behind other western industrialized jurisdictions in terms of its ability to develop good, sustainable jobs, leading to a more robust economy. So he decided to do something about it by bringing his experience and expertise to the fore by placing his name into the electoral ring as the Progressive Conservative candidate for Kingston and the Islands for the June 12 provincial election.

“As someone with financial training, the money issues alone in this province are disheartening. It’s sending panic right across Canada and throughout the globe because we are so far behind. When you look at going from being the largest, most prosperous province to being a ‘have not’ province in less than a decade, it’s awful. We need to do something because this province cannot keep functioning on a credit card. And we can’t just hope things will sort themselves out, we have to step up and do it,” said Bain, who was raised in a military family and worked extensively in both the public and private sectors, including a stint as a government official in the then newly-created territory of Nunavut.

He has also run successful businesses in the tourism, food services and high tech sector, and is a recognized expert in business development. Bain’s years working in the Ontario public service, much of it in the Ministry of Community and Social Services, has given him a unique perspective on how government works in comparison to private enterprise.

“When I moved here from the Maritimes, Ontario invested a lot in me. I got the benefits of great schools. I got the benefits of a university and college education here. The training was phenomenal, and I landed right in the job market when I began working for the Ontario government. And then like a lot of people, I went away for a while. When I came back, I couldn’t believe how behind Ontario was. And I thought to myself there was no way I was going to let this happen if there was something I could do about it,” he said.
He decided to run for office, after a lifelong appreciation for and membership in the Progressive Conservative Party.

“Every Tory believes in fiscal management. But we also believe in doing the most for the most people we can with the dollars we have. What drew me to the party in the beginning was that the PC party believes in freedom and choice. Business and the economy are priorities. We are the job creation party. We are the party that Canada and Ontario consistently turns to, to put us back on track for jobs and economic growth. As a business owner and someone who has worked with people around the globe, I recognize that this is the party supporting individual endeavours and entrepreneurialism. It represents everything I want my kids to do: go out and make jobs rather than stand out there and say, ‘give me jobs,’” Bain said.

“And as I said before, there is a line that we won’t let people fall below, but we also believe that people need to get up and work and they need to be active and they need to participate in the community.”

Based on the many pronouncements from PC Party leader Tim Hudak in the early days of the campaign, it comes as little surprise that Bain identifies job creation and economic growth as the primary election issue.
“We need to get this economy rolling. There are a million people walking around this province with no job and there are a great deal more who are underemployed. We need to make Ontario an environment where companies want to invest and we have to be educating our young people to be ready to enter the workforce. I have three kids and I don’t want to see them go to Alberta or the United States to start their careers,” he said of his 19, 16 and 12-year-old children, the older two being boys.

“I was recently doing an interview down on Princess Street and I waded into a group of 20 year olds and every last one of them said they were giving up, that they are going to Alberta. They said there are no jobs for them here, no career choices in this region.

“We need good policy ideas to move Ontario forward. We need job creators, large corporations, entrepreneurs, people and families to stop flooding out of this province. They have recognized that Ontario has not recovered like the rest of Canada. Ontario has truly declined under this current Liberal government. When I travel I hear business leaders around the globe talk about Ontario’s bond downgrades, Ontario’s’ poor financial position and that Ontario is not a place to go anymore. That is very concerning to me.”
He said local voters are telling him they are most concerned with the rising cost of electricity, both for homeowners and businesses.

“The Liberals say it’s going to increase by 42 percent. We know their math skills are pretty poor and we figure it’s going to be more like 68 per cent if we continue under this government’s policies,” Bain said.
“Tim Hudak announced that we will be getting rid of the debt retirement charge on all hydro bills. It’s been turned into a cash grab by this Liberal government that sees it as revenue, when it’s not supposed to be. It’s a huge extra burden when you compare it to the actual cost of power.”

He also said Tories would scrap the Green Energy Act, projecting that this would create further savings, and also mean less regulation hampering business growth, in his view.

“It’s billions of dollars going out the door to generate electricity ineffectively. Doing that also means we end billions of dollars in unneeded infrastructure costs to the municipalities for building the roads and putting in the services for the solar farms and wind turbines. And we are also being told that ever year, $1 billion is being paid to the American or Quebec government to take our power. We are overproducing at the wrong times for the grid and we are forced to dump energy and pay people to take it. We would renegotiate those contracts and work hard to encourage existing or new manufacturers to come into Ontario, and chew up some of this extra energy by running more at night. We will find ways of effectively using that energy instead of paying other jurisdictions to take it,” Bain explained.

“Immediately, these moves are going to signal relief for ratepayers and it’s going to give job creators in the private sector a glimmer of hope that they can move forward with their own investment and growth plans.”
While he acknowledges the notion of a third crossing for Kingston is important, he said a PC government would develop an infrastructure program to kickstart the economy, but would not be able to guarantee that this program would make the cut.

“It’s going to have to be a decision between municipal, federal and provincial officials as to where the money will come from. I would love to promise it, I would love to help the riding out any way I can, but we have to find that money and make sure that it’s going to be affordable for the taxpayers,” he said.

“I have been on record before saying that if that is what the people of Kingston and the Islands want and it’s their priority, then I will certainly go to bat for it. Personally I do think there are better priorities in the riding than to tack on that bridge right now. But it’s a debate and I represent the public and If they think it’s a priority after they hear my side, then that’s what we will pursue.”

Bain was also adamant that he thinks Hudak would make a good premier.

“From the moment I first met him, he stood out as someone who says what needs to be said. Like me, he is not out here trying to win popularity contests like the other leaders. Sometimes you have to have tough talk. People want to hear the truth – they need to hear the truth as to why we’re in this mess and how we’re going to get out of it,” he said.

“Mr. Hudak has been through the fire and back through several elections and hasn’t wavered from what we need to do – jobs and the economy. He is a skilled politician and he knows where we need to go as a province and I support him 100 per cent. Mr. Hudak and I speak for all of our ridings and all of Ontario and we don’t care if we take hits from the special interest groups, we’re trying to win for Ontario and provide the straight talk and a real dialogue.”

For more information visit http://kati.ontariopc.com/Homepage/Index.
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NDP Mary Rita Holland has high hopes for NDP in June 12 vote

With an impressive history of community advocacy and involvement, as well as a familial background in electoral politics, it wasn’t a big surprise to many of her friends, family and colleagues when Mary Rita Holland first ran as a candidate in the 2011 provincial election representing the New Democratic Party (NDP).

With a solid second-place showing and local support on the rise, it was a no-brainer when she decided to take up the NDP mantle again for the June 12, 2014 election – a campaign that was sparked when her party’s leader, Andrea Horwath, decided to stop propping up the minority Liberal government under Premier Kathleen Wynne by rejecting its spring budget.

The former project manager for the Sir John A. MacDonald Bicentennial Commission, a long-time analyst for the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, as well as one of the community leaders responsible for starting the Memorial Centre Farmers’ market, among other achievements, Holland has spent her life studying the ins and outs of public policy formulation and implementation in order to find better ways of doing things. She has also used her skills, training and enthusiasm to volunteer for numerous local causes.

Holland said the top-of-mind issue for most voters she is encountering, and one that mirrors the NDPs priorities, is the struggle to make ends meet and obtain and retain solid employment.

“People aren’t happy. They are having great difficulty making ends meet. They have told us that they were very disappointed in government and the lack of accountability. In recent canvassing when I start talking about affordability, everybody nods. That’s what people want more of. They want the government to be more involved in making life affordable, because so many have their backs againstin box seats at the Air Canada Centre.

“We are going to eliminate those and we are actually going to raise the corporate tax rate slightly from 11 ½ per cent to 12 ½ per cent, which still keeps it very competitive amongst the Western economies. These steps will allow us to be investing in creating actual new jobs through small business.”

But Ontario’s long-suffering manufacturing sector is also going to get a boost if the NDP is elected to power.
“We are going to offer companies incentives if they are going to invest in machinery or equipment. This will be an investment tax credit for up to 10 per cent of the investment. So if a piece of machinery costs $20,000, they will be eligible for a $2,000 tax credit. This is another measure to help develop business that has real, tangible results,” Holland said.

“And we are going to fund these through a whole bunch of measures that we have to save money. First of all, we are going to end the waste; billions of dollars being spent on things like eHealth and gas plants. We are going to introduce a financial accountability office, which we talked about in the last election and the Liberals haven’t implemented, even though they said they would.

“We are also introducing a new Ministry of Savings and Accountability and shrinking the size of cabinet overall. With these measures we can come up with $600 million annually. There are ways we can save and ways we can ensure we are using taxpayers’ money wisely.”

Holland admits these may not be seen as traditional NDP policies, which historically have seemed to lean into areas of social justice, issues of poverty, equality and environmental protection. But she said that in order to do all those things that improve the quality of life for people in Kingston and the Islands and throughout Ontario, there has to be a more robust economy and more accountability as to how public money is spent.
“Part of the decline in the economy has come from the fact that under Liberal and Conservative governments we have been offering at least $1.8 billion a year to big corporations with no obligation for them to reinvest that money in the Ontario economy or to create jobs. There would be so much that we could do with that money and we are focussed on being really smart and spending money where people want it to be spent – protecting the public services, protecting public service jobs here in Kingston and developing the economy through small business,” she said.

With the savings, efficiencies and increased tax revenues from an improved economy, Holland said the NDP will work to cut emergency room wait times in half by hiring 250 new nurse practitioners and 50 family health clinics that would be open 24 hours.

She said the party would help families stay healthy by hiring 1,000 more physical education teachers and also provide dental care for 100,000 kids from low-income families.

“The most urgent needs will be addressed right away by an NDP government and we will move towards a more balanced society as best we can,” said Holland.

She said the NDP also has an infrastructure plan that focuses a great deal on public transportation as well as the emerging high-tech sector, something she feels the riding of Kingston and the Islands is perfectly poised to take advantage off, thanks to having Queen’s University, RMC and St. Lawrence College in its environs.
For Kingston East voters, Holland said she is a proponent of the third crossing, but wants to ensure it is part of a broader plan that improves and enhances public transit, not just on the east side of the river, but throughout the city.

“It’s obviously one of the key problems in this area. There are towns much smaller than ours that have much better access than we do. But this issue has been going on for so long, and it is desperately needed. That part of the city has been growing so much – I’ve noticed the change since the last election and it’s incredible. I am definitely committed to extending the transit infrastructure in the city and developing a third crossing,” she said.

Holland was born in New Brunswick and did her undergraduate degree at the University of New Brunswick, before doing post-graduate work at Queen’s. She has lived in Kingston ever since.

As a child, she admired how her parents, both public sector workers and union members, worked hard and gave back to the community through a variety of projects. She was also the niece of a Conservative MLA in the New Brunswick legislature under the government of long-time premier Richard Hatfield.
While in university, she worked as a page in the legislature and was inspired by the energy of the place, as well as the personage of one MLA in particular.

“Liberal Frank McKenna was in power and he really dominated the legislature. So there was only a handful of Conservatives and only one NDP member, Elizabeth Weir. She was a phenomenal politician. She was the lone female and lone NDP member and she was my idol. Watching her every day was amazing. She was a fighter and people respected her. I realized how important it was to have a woman in that role. That was my first introduction to the NDP as well, although I didn’t get involved until Jack Layton’s federal campaign in 2011,” she said.

“I had been home with my daughter and working on my PhD and I wanted to something that matters. I had the experience and the education that made me feel more confident about becoming involved in partisan politics. That campaign was a total inspiration in the way Jack believed in fighting for people every day. Shortly after that they were looking for a provincial candidate and because of my background people encouraged me to try. So I ran and got the nomination. That 2011 campaign really helped us build the party locally. We came in second place and that was the best standing we had in about 20 years.
“We felt it then and we feel it now. People were paying attention to us and the momentum from there has been amazing. There is no turning back.”

“We are going to eliminate those and we are actually going to raise the corporate tax rate slightly from 11 ½ per cent to 12 ½ per cent, which still keeps it very competitive amongst the Western economies. These steps will allow us to be investing in creating actual new jobs through small business.” But Ontario’s long-suffering manufacturing sector is also going to get a boost if the NDP is elected to power.

“We are going to offer companies incentives if they are going to invest in machinery or equipment. This will be an investment tax credit for up to 10 per cent of the investment. So if a piece of machinery costs $20,000, they will be eligible for a $2,000 tax credit. This is another measure to help develop business that has real, tangible results,” Holland said.

“And we are going to fund these through a whole bunch of measures that we have to save money. First of all, we are going to end the waste; billions of dollars being spent on things like eHealth and gas plants. We are going to introduce a financial accountability office, which we talked about in the last election and the Liberals haven’t implemented, even though they said they would.

“We are also introducing a new Ministry of Savings and Accountability and shrinking the size of cabinet overall. With these measures we can come up with $600 million annually. There are ways we can save and ways we can ensure we are using taxpayers’ money wisely.”

Holland admits these may not be seen as traditional NDP policies, which historically have seemed to lean into areas of social justice, issues of poverty, equality and environmental protection. But she said that in order to do all those things that improve the quality of life for people in Kingston and the Islands and throughout Ontario, there has to be a more robust economy and more accountability as to how public money is spent.

“Part of the decline in the economy has come from the fact that under Liberal and Conservative governments we have been offering at least $1.8 billion a year to big corporations with no obligation for them to reinvest that money in the Ontario economy or to create jobs. There would be so much that we could do with that money and we are focussed on being really smart and spending money where people want it to be spent – protecting the public services, protecting public service jobs here in Kingston and developing the economy through small business,” she said.

With the savings, efficiencies and increased tax revenues from an improved economy, Holland said the NDP will work to cut emergency room wait times in half by hiring 250 new nurse practitioners and 50 family health clinics that would be open 24 hours. She said the party would help families stay healthy by hiring 1,000 more physical education teachers and also provide dental care for 100,000 kids from low-income families.

“The most urgent needs will be addressed right away by an NDP government and we will move towards a more balanced society as best we can,” said Holland. She said the NDP also has an infrastructure plan that focuses a great deal on public transportation as well as the emerging high-tech sector, something she feels the riding of Kingston and the Islands is perfectly poised to take advantage off, thanks to having Queen’s University, RMC and St. Lawrence College in its environs. For Kingston East voters, Holland said she is a proponent of the third crossing, but wants to ensure it is part of a broader plan that improves and enhances public transit, not just on the east side of the river, but throughout the city.

“We felt it then and we feel it now. People were paying attention to us and the momentum from there has been amazing. There is no turning back.” For more information, visit www.maryritaholland.ca.
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Liberal Sophie Kiwala hopes to keep seat Liberal

For seven years Sophie Kiwala worked in the local constituency offices of first long-time federal Liberal MP Peter Milliken and later for his successor, Ted Hsu, for the riding of Kingston and the Islands.

In that capacity she believes she got to know the issues and needs of local residents and also connected with a wide range of stakeholders from the private and public sector. Enjoying working with and for the public, Kiwala decided to step out from behind the administrative side of politics and run for elected office.

She sought and won the nomination as the Liberal Party standard bearer for the June 12 provincial election. She will be trying to retain the seat held for 19 years by John Gerretsen, who decided to step away from elected politics after many years at the municipal level, before moving on to provincial politics in 1995.

Kiwala hopes to keep Kingston and the Islands Liberal red. Gerretsen won it in 2011 with a little over 48 per cent of the popular vote, with NDP candidate Mary Rita Holland coming second with 23.74 per cent of the vote, and Progressive Conservative candidate Rodger James in third with 22.5 per cent of the vote. Green Party candidate Robert Kiley had 1,590 votes for fourth. Both Holland and Kiley are running again in 2014, with another first timer, Mark Bain, running for the Tories.

“One of the reasons I decided to run is that I love the work that I am doing and I am encouraged and excited about being able to do more. The other thing is that, even though I worked in the office of our federal MP for seven years, I think that federal politics is slightly more distant from people than provincial politics is. At the federal level we do help people with employment insurance issues, child tax credits or other Canada Revenue Agency issues, as well as citizenship and immigration,” Kiwala told the Kingston East News.

“Provincial issues are closer to the ground. We deal with health care, housing issues, infrastructure, education and jobs. My forte is dealing with people. I enjoy it. I have developed some great relationships in the community and I have a good understanding of the different programs and services that are available in the community. And I have some ideas as to how we might be able to integrate those programs and make them more accessible and work even better. I think dealing with provincial issues will allow me to continue those great relationships and make a real difference to the people of Kingston and the Islands.”

Prior to working for Milliken, Kiwala was involved in the retail sector for 17 years in management and ownership capacities. She lived in France and Turkey for a few years and has done volunteer work amongst the expat Turkish community in Canada to help raise funds for that nation’s first ever women’s shelter.
When she returned to Canada she worked in commercial and residential renovations, interior design and rental property ownership.

She said all of this experience makes her a good fit as MPP for Kingston and the Islands.

“I think having a deep understanding of our community and constituents’ lives and what they are concerned about and listening to them on a daily basis for seven years is irreplaceable. Understanding the different groups that are out there and how people can access services and programs from those groups is a very big step forward. I would say it’s pretty rare to have an MPP or MP go into the position with that kind of knowledge and those relationships already established,” Kiwala said.

“My ability to reach out to be open and reach out to people is also something that I think will be important going forward.”

Like most of the candidates across the province, Kiwala said that improving job prospects in the province is a top priority. She said that many of the programs and policies already in place in the Wynne government can be maximized to help create jobs and improve the provincial economy, especially in eastern Ontario.

“We have the Eastern Ontario Economic Development Fund which has contributed quite a bit of money and will continue to do so. It is something the Wynne government certainly recognizes as absolutely critical going forward to have economic sustainability in this part of the province. We are looking at infrastructure projects to help stimulate the economy. If the Liberal government is elected again we will be bringing that program forward,” she said adding that, locally, with the right amount of co-operation and strategic investment, Kingston can become a high tech hub and national leader in the Green economy.

“We have programs already started at St. Lawrence College and if you combine that with Queen’s and RMC, that’s an area we can expand into, creating good jobs for our young people. We already have some wonderful high-tech companies here and we just need to continue to support those firms and encourage others to come to Kingston or develop here in Kingston.”

Kiwala is well aware that many Ontarians, including those in Kingston East, are concerned about the financial toll escalating electricity bills are having on residential and commercial customers. She is confident that a new Liberal administration would be able to take on this issue, but that solutions such as simply chopping rates are not realistic.

“Interestingly, I have had people approach me who have said that nobody likes to pay a lot for hydro, but that it’s unlikely that the scenario would be any different no matter what party was in power, as much as they would like to think it would be different. I think there are people out there who do understand that hydro is expensive everywhere and we do need to look at ways we can reduce costs in the future. We also need to be looking at new methods of green energy technology and fuel savings as to help reduce our need for electricity,” she said.

“People are looking at the future and they do seem to understand the broader issues. But when it comes down to people’s individual pocketbooks, it’s very hard to look at the big picture. We understand it is a significant issue for everybody right now and I know the Wynne government recognizes that too and will work hard to come up with solutions.”

Kiwala said she is a big proponent of a third crossing for Kingston to help alleviate traffic and access issues for the people of Kingston East.

“It’s an important infrastructure project that I would be supporting and it’s one of the infrastructure investments that is a key part of our future. The Wynne government has already proposed $130 billion in infrastructure projects over the next 10 years, so you can be sure that if I am elected I will be fighting to bring some of that money to Kingston to help with a third crossing project,” she said.

As for her sometimes embattled leader, Kiwala said over her 15 months as premier, since taking over from Dalton McGuinty in 2012, Kathleen Wynne has demonstrated the abilities and mettle to warrant more time in the premier’s chair.

”I think she has excellent collaborative skills. She has demonstrated time and again that she is willing to work with others and I think that is critical. I think she has done a very good job of managing the economy. She had developed a fair budget which had a lot of things designed to appeal to the opposition parties. But despite that they voted it down and we now have this election.

There were quite a few people in this riding who have expressed serious disappointment with the opposition not supporting the budget,” she said.

“She has a wide range of interests and she truly believes that politics is about helping people, and that’s why we need to be there and it’s why I am running as well.”

For more information, visit www.sophiekiwala.ca.
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Green Party Robert Kiley says Greens have a more balanced approach to government

The primary reason why Robert Kiley became a supporter and enthusiastic worker for the Green Party is the same reason why he believes the party is the best one to govern a province as diverse and complex as Ontario.

Always interested in politics and public policy, Kiley is running as the Green Party candidate in the riding of Kingston and the Islands in the June 12 provincial election. It is the second time Kiley has run at the provincial level, having also carried the Green banner in the 2011 campaign.

“Reading the Green Party policy book about seven years ago now, I realized that they are the only party that has a true balance between social, economic and environmental realities and that’s what continues my commitment to be a Green. That’s why our platform is about eliminating the deficit and improving quality of life. And we are trying to get the message out to the people of Kingston and the Islands that there is not a contradiction between those two ideas,” said Kiley in an interview with the Kingston East News.

“You can have robust programming that benefits the most vulnerable in society while keeping the books in the black or at least not in the red. We believe that fiscal responsibility, social sustainability and environmental consciousness is extremely important, but they have to be held together. We can’t have policies which contradict those principles. For us, this is our triple bottom line.

“We even tell people directly that we’re not all about kissing dolphins and hugging trees. There is a time and place for that. I think we need to remember that society has different facets: not everyone is going to take a balanced approach, but we think that a balanced approach is the best for good public policy and for strong local representation.”

Kiley was born and raised in Kingston and has had an interest in public service and electoral politics since he ran for school council in Grade 8. He was elected student council co-president while at Bayridge Secondary School and ran for student government while taking his undergraduate degree at Trent University, where he focused on issues around aging and seniors, and has a Master’s in Public Administration from Queen’s.
He has been a teacher and has worked in both the public and private sector as a leadership trainer, education officer and facilitator. Most recently he completed a contract position as the executive director of the Frontenac-Kingston Council on Aging.

He has worked behind the scenes for the Green Party for the past number of years, including the 2010 federal campaign. When he was named campaign manager for the provincial election in 2011, he and party officials were struggling to come up with a candidate who was available to put in the time needed, so Kiley himself was urged to run, which he did.

“I guess the party felt that I had done a good job in presenting the balanced approach we believe in and we talked about me running again, so here I am,” he said.

Kiley said the top three priorities in this election, from his perspective, are revamping and refocusing elementary, secondary and post-secondary education; job creation major policy choice – taxing carbon, according to Kiley and his fellow Greens.

“We believe the tax system is a bit skewed right now. We are taxing most things equally when we should tax things that are harming us, not those things that are helping us. If something is going to cost more in the long run, we need to tax it more to signal the market that we recognize that. With carbon pollution, all credible researchers acknowledge that climate change is one of the most pressing, if not the most pressing environmental concern to ever arise on planet Earth, especially as it pertains to human economies and the human way of life,” he said.

“If we don’t get our carbon emissions under control today, we know that in the long run we will be paying billions of dollars on infrastructure repair because we will be completely re-doing infrastructure as we know it. And we will be paying a social cost because the most vulnerable will be the ones most affected by climate change – those people who can’t afford fluctuating food prices. We want to use market mechanisms by taxing carbon pollution to encourage people to consume less carbon.”

Kiley also said the Green Party would tax resource extraction at a bit higher a level.

“We are saying lets raise that amount to the national average and work harder to encourage those companies to be mindful of the impact they are having on the planet when they extract things. It’s a balance between the environment and the economy,” he said.

“And all of this comes back to paying down the deficit. We want to eliminate the deficit as soon as possible. And it’s not only through these eco-taxes but it’s also about finding efficiencies in the systems we already have. We think we can find at least a one-per-cent efficiency across the Ontario public service without cutting jobs, but through better management practices. We feel this way we could save another billion dollars.”

As for Kingston East specifically, Kiley recognizes that the third crossing is top of mind for local voters.
“I think if we have a third crossing that prioritizes public transit a few good things will come from that. We could either have a light rail line go underneath, which is infrastructure that can be developed, or an extra lane for bus service that can be used as an express service for residents coming to and from the east. The third crossing needs to do this because it will increase ridership on public transit, which is beneficial for seniors, and it will lessen emissions, which brings us back to lowering our environmental impact. And socially I think it will help make the riding and the city more cohesive,” Kiley said.

For more information, visit www.gpo.ca/riding/36/candidate, or www.kingstongreens.ca, or email robertkiley@gpo.ca.

Kingston Frontenacs

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