By Kevin Werner, News Staff
Hamilton Mountain Progressive Conservative candidate Albert Marshall continued to questioned Liberal candidate Javid Mirza’s decision to relocate part of his family-owned business, Seven Star Sports, to China.
“The truth is the truth,” said Marshall, a day after questioning Mirza about the business decision June 5 during a radio debate at CHML. “At the end of the day the question is about Hamilton and its people.”
But Mirza remained “shocked” that Marshall would make what he considered personal attacks against him.
“Albert doesn’t even know what I do for a living,” said Mirza. “He is just making up stories because (the Progressive Conservatives) have nothing else. I don’t go personal with anybody. This is just like the old American politics.”
Early in the CHML debate,Marshall pointed out on Seven Star Sports website that even though Hamilton remains its corporate headquarters, manufacturing is done in Shanghai, China.
“(Javid talks) about helping Hamilton but he doesn’t walk the walk,” said Marshall during the debate. “He took jobs to Shanghai. Why can’t the people in Hamilton make it? There are good people here.”
Hamilton Mountain NDP MPP Monique Taylor was surprised at the revelation, and added her disapproval to Mirza’s actions.
“You don’t have your product being manufactured here,” said Taylor during the debate. “You shipped it to another country for cheaper labour, for cheaper product.”
Taylor said later it was “disgraceful” that Mirza had relocated his manufacturing operation to China.
“(The issue) caught me off guard,” said Taylor. “He’s been talking about bring jobs to Hamilton and here he is taking jobs out of the local community. It goes against what the Liberals have been campaigning on. It’s really unfortunate he made the decision.”
Mirza argued for his family-operated business to remain competitive, he had to relocate his manufacturing operations to China, a move other sports goods operations had already done.
“We still do research and development (in Hamilton), we do all of our marketing here, we do all of our sales here,” said Mirza. “Wow, it’s amazing you are talking about Shanghai. You have absolutely no clue. How (am) I going to compete? We would not even be in business.”
Later, Mirza said he made the move to China about 20 years ago. He said the eight or 10 part-time employees who worked in the manufacturing sector all eventually found work in Hamilton.
“I never fired anybody,” said Mirza.
The Liberal candidate remained upset with Marshall’s accusation a few days after the debate, calling it a “cheap shot.
“I have a good record in the city of Hamilton” said Mirza. “My family, myself, we have contributed a lot to the community, to our city. (The question) offended me.”
Mirza said he could have attacked Marshall, who is also a small business owner operating Hear Right Canada on Upper James Street.
“Instead of talking substance, instead he went into personal (questions),” said Mirza.
Marshallalso announced during the debate that if elected MPP, he would donate $10,000 of his salary each year to assist Hamilton’s most vulnerable. An MPP makes $116,500 in salary.
He got the idea about the donation after campaigning along the Mountain riding and seeing how financially desperate some families are. He said there are seniors on fixed incomes and people working two or three jobs simply to pay their bills. In some cases,Marshall said, people are making a choice to either pay a bill or put food on the table.
“I knew things were bad,” said Marshall. “I didn’t know how bad they were. There are people really hurting in the community. I personally blame the Liberal government for creating an environment that is not attractive to jobs.”
But both Mirza and Taylor dismissed Marshall’s gesture, saying it was nothing more than an election gimmick.
“What is $10,000 going to do in the bigger scheme of things? Hamilton Mountain needs representation,” said Mirza.
Taylor said the offer is really “disrespectful” to Mountain residents.
“They deserve more from a MPP,” said Taylor. “They are looking for respect.”
Meanwhile, even though Mirza has shrugged off the idea that he has come under attack because he is the candidate to beat in the June 12 election, he has received some high-powered support on election night.
Tom Allison, who engineered Premier Kathleen Wynne’s win as party leader in 2013, and became her deputy chief of staff, will be overseeing Mirza’s election strategy in the run-up to election night.
Allison, who is now the campaign manager for John Tory’s Toronto mayoral campaign, sees Mirza in the winner’s circle on Election Day.
But Taylor may have something to say about that. First elected in 2011 after upsetting Liberal cabinet minister Sophia Aggelonitis, the veteran NDP campaign worker will be hard at work up to Election Day meeting people.
“I definitely like what I have been hearing and seeing out there,” said Taylor. “It looks great at the doors. I’m definitely confident with my chances.”