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all candidates meeting

Four of the six Huron-Bruce provincial candidates took part in an all candidates meeting May 24 in the Rotary Hall at the Plex in Port Elgin. From left, Conservative incumbent Lisa Thompson, Libertarian Ron Stephens, Liberal Don Matheson and NDP Jan Johnstone.

Hub Staff

A Huron-Bruce all candidates meeting hosted by the Saugeen Shores and Kincardine Chambers of Commerce as well as the Canadian Federation of University Women was held in the Rotary Hall at the Plex in Port Elgin May 24, with the Progressive Conservatives (PC) incumbent Lisa Thompson, Libertarian Ron Stephens, Liberal Don Matheson and Jan Johnstone of the New Democratic Party (NDP) in attendance. The Green party’s Nicholas Wendler and Alliance Ontario’s Gerry Huenemoerder were not in attendance. The event was moderated by John Divinski and allowed for opening and closing statements from each of the four candidates as well as a question period.

Elected School Board Trustee and Vice Chair of Bluewater District School Board, Jan Johnstone representing NDP was first to speak to the crowd. Johnstone mentioned that the Bluewater Board works with a $200 million dollar budget, adding that it was bigger than any municipal council in the area. Her husband works at Bruce Power and she gave examples of times she played host to the provincial and federal party leaders, Andrea Horwath and Jagmeet Singh, and toured them around the Bruce Power facility. “I’m proud to promote our power plant,” said Johnstone, making clear during her opening statement her support for nuclear energy.

Johnstone said she supported Bruce Power as it brings long term jobs to the community, and said that Horwath also supports the refurbishments at Bruce Power and Darlington and supports the Pickering station should it see its license renewed.

Johnstone later clarified that she hoped Pickering does get its license renewed. “In every party there is differences of opinion,” she said, adding that she supports the site suggestion process of the DGR. “The Federal government will make that decision,” said Johnstone, promising that if she was elected she would fight for nuclear energy at Queen’s Park.

Don Matheson of the Liberal Party is a Saugeen Shores Councillor, a high school teacher with the Bluewater District School Board, and a coach. “It was on Council that I realized that Huron-Bruce was lacking a strong voice at Queen’s Park. I believe that we do need a change here in Huron-Bruce, we need a map that will not only see problems but will look to solutions to the challenges that we face in the community.”

Matheson then took digs at the PC and NDP parties. “The PC will say the Liberals are corrupt and have mismanaged the province over the last 15 years. I can give 407 reasons or 4-0-7 reasons why their version of corrupt is not the same as mine.” Matheson went on to say that the PC plan does not add up, and that the party will be running a deficit. “Something they are accusing the Liberal government of doing,” he said.

Matheson went on to comment that the NDP voted against a livable wage and accused the NDP of making a “secret deal” to close the Pickering nuclear station and then hypothesized what would happen if the NDP closed Bruce Power.

Libertarian Ron Stephens said the he was disappointed there weren’t more young people at the meeting. “We have to get the young people involved because they have no idea what’s going on the province,” he said. “This Province and the people in it have been defrauded for many decades,” he added.

Stephens went on to say that the electricity system was a mess, a constructive mess, citing the NDP and then the PC party who he accused of “hooking up with Enron.” He went on to detail various issues, citing lobbyism with the energy system, that did not end when it was passed onto the Liberals. “The level of harm that’s been done by these three parties to the general public is not acceptable and tonight they're going to argue with each other who screwed it up the worst, they're all guilty,” he said.

Stephens said the Libertarians would repeal the Green Energy Act, and remove all Liberal government appointees on all boards and told those in attendance to find more information on the party’s platform on Libertarian website.

Last to speak was Huron-Bruce incumbent PC Lisa Thompson. “I have more work to do and there’s more change to be done,” she said, adding that it’s been an absolute honour to represent Huron-Bruce over the last two terms.

Thompson indicated that the audience may hear of parties speaking during the meeting and slinging mud at each other but said what they will hear from her is how the Conservatives will facilitate change. “It’s time to focus on bringing Ontario back from the brinks of the debt that we've carried for so long,” she said. “We are the only party that will put an end to the hallway healthcare crisis. We are the party that will be supporting our healthcare professionals and improving mental health access and services.” Thompson went on to say that they will “scrap the price on carbon” and bring jobs back to Ontario.

Following the opening statements candidates took time to answer a variety of questions from over ten audience members, answering with blatant and nuanced answers.

The first question was to all candidates regarding if they support the Carbon Tax. Johnstone said the NDP does not support a Carbon Tax but does support a Carbon Cap and Trade. Matheson said he and the Liberals do support a Carbon Tax. Libertarian Stephens said he “absolutely does not support a Carbon Tax or a Cap and Trade Tax” calling the history of it a fraud. Thompson agreed with Stephens, suggesting that when governments are cash strapped “they employ schemes” and said the Liberals’ Cap and Trade “scheme” and tax on carbon are not supported by the Progressive Conservatives.

The questions of a $3 billion debt was then brought up with the question of how each party would deal with it. Matheson said the Liberal party has a plan to look after the people first and proposed a “Care before Cuts” initiative, meeting social needs first then take back and balance the budget to bring the deficit down.

Libertarian Stephens said the debt should not exist, citing all parties for being equally involved and responsible for the debt. He suggested streamlining government and bringing business back to Ontario by making things feasible for business to start.

Thompson said the PC’s plan is following independent legislative officers and listening to the Auditor General who she said found 14 programs that could be a cost savings of $1 billion, noting government owned property that sits idle to the tune of $19 million; as well as not enforcing office space standards, something she said is a waste of $174 million. Thompson also suggested that the PC party would look at the money being spent in America for taking Ontario’s surplus energy.

NDP’s Johnstone said that they were one of only two parties able to produce a fully costed platform. She cited Canadian economist Mike Moffat of Richard Ivey Business School in London who looked at the platforms of the three major parties and said the NDP shows the least amount of deficit. She then suggested the biggest amount of deficit would be incurred by the PCs. Johnstone went on to say that the NDP’s plan to make investments, protect middle class from tax hikes, tax the wealthiest people and corporations who will pay “their fair share.”

Some questioned the candidates’ personal opinions with the candidate’s answers being more nuanced.

When asked whether they personally embraced diversity, all candidates said yes with Stephens showing concern about illegal immigrants going to sanctuary cities.

The question about whether or not the candidates would be able to stand up to their parties. Stephens said that Libertarians are independents, Matheson said that he could. Both Thompson and Johnstone said that they would talk with their party and have open dialogue, as well as ask for an open vote if needed.

Two questions were asked regarding rural infrastructure funding were asked, once by Cassie Wallace and once by Saugeen Shores Councillor Mike Myatt. Wallace brought up the need for a new pool in Saugeen Shores as well a shortage of affordable housing and a need for longterm care beds.

Johnstone, who attended the SSRAPNow walk and rally in support of a new aquatic facility, said the rally’s chosen colour of orange is her colour and the NDP will “restore funding to the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund, allowing local governments to make longterm plans,” she said. “And we will work with lower tier municipalities to ensure that they get the funding for important local priorities, increasing the Fund to 550 million dollars,” she added. Johnstone then thanked SSRAPNow who she called “the orange puff people” for bringing it to her attention.

Matheson, a Saugeen Shores Councillor, knows the plight of a new pool as well and brought the Liberals’ “Care before Cuts” platform. “It takes time and that really does apply to politics,” he said, adding that the Liberal government is going to fund these projects. Matheson said that roads, bridges and the upgrades to the Saugeen Memorial Hospital were all done through Liberal funding.

Stephens said that government likes “people in the city” suggesting that in order to win the votes of urban dwellers, they does not fix rural infrastructure.

Incumbent Thompson said that affordable housing is an issue in this riding. “We need to do better. We will be working with our local experts to determine our best past forward,” she said, adding that the Conservatives will be working to eliminate “hallway healthcare” and hoped to add 30,000 beds in the next 10 years. Thompson then blamed the Liberals for eroding the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund, which she said Conservatives will restore.

Myatt asked direct questions to Matheson and Thompson, asking them to be more specific on when the Province of Ontario will start focusing more attention on rural Ontario over urban centers via Recreation and Infrastructure funding.

Thompson said the Conservatives respect rural municipalities and noted that municipalities spend a lot of money on consultants developing application forms and programs to hope they “win the lottery” and get some money for valued community projects. “We’re going to get rid of that,” she said, explaining that there will be “one window access” in terms of moving forward to get approvals, and mandate that every approval has to been turned over in a year.

Matheson suggested that the Conservatives would do this by cuts. “[Thompson] is making statements that they can’t hold,” he said, then blamed “downloading” that occurred when then Conservative leader Mike Harris was in power. To answer Myatt on when the funding would happen, Matheson said it would happen as soon as he got to Queen’s Park.

An audience member asked what the candidates’ feelings were on wind turbines and how they would address the concerns of people who’ve been impacted by them.

Thompson said the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) and its corresponding website is broken, saying complaints go into “a black hole”.

“We will address the broken Bill of Rights,” she said, adding that if the Conservatives are elected they will “free up” the Ministry of Climate Change personnel who she said have been handcuffed and muzzled. “They have not been able to put forward their report in a factual way to allow proper remediation,” she said.

Johnstone said that she has friends who have been affected by wind turbines and said that turbines working not in compliance should be shut down. She said that the NDP would like municipalities to be able to make more decisions.

Matheson said he believes in the science, saying that science has yet to prove that people are affected by wind turbines but said he does believe that people have individual electrical systems in their bodies that are affected by it them.

Matheson addressed the controversial turbine in Port Elgin, admitting that it is running outside of compliance, and remarked that current MPP Lisa Thompson has not fixed that problem. Matheson then said that individual people have the right to have a wind turbine on their property.

Stephens said the Libertarian party would cut anything that’s subsidized. “All these windmills need to come down, they were put way to close,” he said.

Recent changes to Ontario’s sexual education curriculum was brought up Saugeen Shores’ Pat Sanagan, directing a question to Lisa Thompson. “Why is the Conservative party removing this curriculum, that would improve the understanding of consent and lead to healthy relationships,” asked Sanagan, who then asked the other candidates what they will do to prevent violence against women.

Thompson said the PC government would return the health curriculum back to where it was prior to the Liberal government’s changes. “I think it’s a travesty that only one parent per elementary school, per average was consulted,” she said, adding that they would move forward with an age appropriate program.

Johnstone, a school board trustee with the Bluewater board, said that she never received any complaints from parents and that she can ensure that the new sexual education curriculum was “widely, widely consulted" with a variety of experts, teachers and families.

Johnstone said she was concerned that the curriculum would be rolled back if the Conservatives took power and suggested that she would have liked to hear the complaints that Thompson suggested happened at the time they were made. “I never heard from either MPP in our region that there was a problem with the education curriculum,” she said. “Leave it alone, it is working and it’s all about consent,” she added.

High School teacher Matheson said with the new curriculum students are taught respect, how to be in healthy relationships, how to deal with problems and that treating people bad is not allowable. “No women should ever have to live in fear, no person should have to live in fear, it happens to men too, on a smaller level but it does happen,” said Matheson. He said that the government needs to make sure that there are places like women’s shelters and that they stay open.

Stephens started off by saying that “any man that would hit a woman is not a man.” Regarding the curriculum, Stephens said he had done “mild” research and felt that “children are being set up here in the early grades to be groomed into this LGBTQ-XYZ view.” A resounding groan was heard throughout the Rotary Hall in response to Stephens’ comments.

“Now see there is the groan,” Stephens said. “I expected it, now having said that I could care less what your sexual preference is but this is being groomed in schools, okay, that’s been documented,” he said. Members of the audience continued to respond strongly to Stephens’ comments, heckling ensued and moderator John Divinski had to intervene and ask that respect be shown.

The question period continued with members of the public asking about party platforms, keeping promises, working with other parties and heckling methods in parliament.

Fiscal responsibility, transportation and education funding were also discussed.

john mann

Attendees from the Huron-Bruce riding lined up to ask questions of the candidates at the All Candidates Meeting, May 24. Pictured Saugeen Shores resident John Mann.

table all candidates

From left, Conservative incumbent Lisa Thompson, Libertarian Ron Stephens, Liberal Don Matheson and NDP Jan Johnstone during the question period at the All Candidates Meeting, May 24.

Closing remarks can be seen here:



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