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From The Dundas Star...

Although this opinion piece from the Dundas Star is a few months old, we here at David Sweet Watch think it sums up people's feelings pretty well:

Kevin Werner, Dundas
(Apr 7, 2006)

Ancaster-Dundas- Flamborough-Westdale Conservative MP David Sweet doesn't inspire much confidence within the political community to represent Hamilton's interests in Ottawa. Recent events since the January federal election have only confirmed those minimal expectations.

In fact, the former real estate broker, and president of Direction Works Inc., a consulting firm, seems more discombobulated than the usual rookie politician tentatively entering the world of big-time politics.

The thinking goes, if Mr. Sweet wants to retain his seat, there are two issues he must ride herd on during his term as MP. His first priority is making sure CANMET Materials Technology Laboratory, earmarked for the McMaster Innovation Park, is indeed relocated to Hamilton from Ottawa.

There have been murmurs from Ottawa politicians to keep the laboratory from moving to Hamilton. That background noise hasn't quieted down, and Mr. Sweet hasn't done anything to dampen the sense of unease local politicians are experiencing.

During a recent luncheon with Dundas business people, he stated that getting CANMET to Hamilton is his No. 1 priority. But curiously, he said later he can't assure residents he will follow through on the Liberal's promise to relocate CANMET.

"I will do what I can," he said in a less than confident tone. "But all the announcements that the previous government made we need to check and see if they are financially sustainable."

McMaster officials remain in limbo about the future of CANMET. They do have a letter of intent from CANMET, but not a lease signed to relocate the facility to Hamilton.

The other high profile federal issue for Hamilton is quashing an attempt by Pickering to begin constructing a multi-billion airport. If Pickering is allowed to be built, politicians' dream of a low-cost, alternative airport in Hamilton, along with the much-hyped aerotropolis plan, crashes to the ground. Yet not a peep from Mr. Sweet on what he will do to stop Pickering.

So what has Mr. Sweet been doing instead for nearly two and a half months?

To his credit, he has scoped out a few local issues, turning up at a city council meeting, appearing at a rural official plan meeting in Ancaster, dressed as Father Merrin, and according to Mr. Sweet, he's responding to "hundreds" of requests for help from residents.

He opened up a constituency office outside Dundas, where only the cows roam, and more recently he has spoken at area chamber of commerce luncheons.

He left a few Ancaster business people with mouths agape, with his vision of Canada. While they wanted to know how his government would assist Hamilton's urban areas, he talked about Canada's apocalyptic food crisis, Hurricane Katrina, and capital gains tax reductions.

His Dundas talk was more subdued, and followed Conservative talking points. He answered most questions by quickly regurgitating Stephen Harper's five point plan - child care, accountability legislation, lowering taxes, getting tough on crime and patient wait times. But how to answer a question about reducing fuel prices by referencing the five programs? You don't.

Which brings us to a disturbing core of the whole Conservative agenda that Mr. Sweet seems to have bathed himself in. Mr. Harper has placed, if not a gag order on ministers and MPs, at least a red beeper to monitor what his ministers and MPs say. The PM's office must approve of all information, comments and even letters to the editor from government officials and cabinet ministers, except those that deal with the five priorities.

As he rushed to his vehicle to leave the Dundas Valley Golf and Curling Club, Mr. Sweet denied there is a gag order in place.

"Absolutely not," he sternly said. "You're asking me questions here right now. So that's not the case. There are some priorities we had agreed upon (during the election) that all of us said yes to."

But try contacting Mr. Sweet on an issue, and it may be easier to watch for the white smoke to emerge from the building.

Even his website, which is an essential tool for today's politician, is nothing more than a picture of Mr. Sweet and a contact number for his Dundas office. Looking at wallpaper is a better use of time.

Maybe there is method to Mr. Sweet's madness. Since expectations are so low for him, if he does anything for Hamilton, he will be lauded for his abilities.

On the other hand, if you expect nothing, you should receive nothing in return.