Sudburians didn’t really get chance to meet premier – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – August 30, 2013)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

Premier Kathleen Wynne visited Sudbury for two days to get to know people — Liberals and non-Liberals , she says — and for them to get to know her. But there were few opportunities for Sudburians to speak to the premier about what’s on their minds or for Wynne to tell them how a Liberal government led by her would improve their lives in any real way.

Wynne visited a diamond manufacturing plant Thursday afternoon, with every move photographed and videographed by the media, and later attended a “celebration party” with Liberal riding association members. No doubt, Grits were required to pony up for the party at the meet-and-greet.

Wynne conducted one on one interviews with reporters — as well as a short call-in on CBC Radio and an online chat with a Sudbury newspaper — but most of her appearances were by-invitation-only.

The premier spoke briefly with a Liberal supporter when she arrived for an interview with The Sudbury Star on Friday morning at Old Rock Coffee Roasting Company on Minto Street. Earlier, a security guard scoped out the small coffee house, consulting with owner Carole Roy about where the back entrance was should the premier have to leave in a hurry.

Wynne was driven up to the front entrance of the cafe in a Black Chevy Tahoe, accompanied by at least two more security personnel and two female aides. (Wynne started her morning with a 20- or 25-minute run in the rain at Laurentian University.)

Over a decaf latte and a date square, Wynne listened to a reporter’s questions, answering them quickly but briefly. There were few solid answers.

It’s small businesses likes Roy’s that are great success stories, said Wynne, after learning Roy, a former nurse, employs 10 people.

That’s her point when she talks about mining and the direct jobs created by it, said Wynne. Those jobs are important, “but it’s all these jobs that are important, too. If you have a strong central economy, then you have all this small business that’s successful.”

The discussion turns to wages at jobs such as Crossworks Manufacturing and other industries that pay $14 or $15 an hour and whether people can afford to raise families on that kind of money.

“This is a bit of a global issue,” says Wynne, adding her government is working with the private sector to create “good livable jobs.”

It’s why her government invested $295 million in a youth and employment fund to connect young people with jobs as welders and electricians, and tool and die makers, jobs they might not have thought about otherwise.

Talk turns to the minimum wage which, at $10.25, has been increased nine times by her government, says Wynne.

Her government has struck a panel to look at how to raise it “in a rational way,” she says, not just on a political whim, but in way tied to the cost of living or another objective measure.

These and other issues are ones that can’t be approached ideologically, she says.

That’s what worries her about “left-wing policies that really vilify the private sector. Seeing the private sector as the enemy isn’t the answer.”

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