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Present were, from left, Conservative candidate Ben Lobb, NDP candidate Tony McQuail, Liberal candidate Allan Thompson and PPC candidate Kevin Klerks.

Hub Staff

Four of the five Huron-Bruce candidates for the October 21 federal election gathered for an all candidates meeting at the Plex in Port Elgin Wednesday. Approximately 150 residents came to hear the voice of the Liberals, Conservatives, New Democrats and Peoples Party of Canada through their local representative. Green Party candidate Nicholas Wendler could not make the event but sent along an opening statement.

The meeting was moderated by John Divinski of 98 The Beach, who coordinated a three minute opening statement from each candidate, followed by a series of questions from the floor and a round of three minute closing statements. This year, questions were required to be directed to all candidates and were restricted to one minute in length. Answers from candidates were limited to two minutes.

The People’s Party of Canada (PPC) candidate, Kevin M. Klerks, was the first to step up to the podium with his opening statement. Klerks shared a background in all levels of retail, as well as a social media consultant and website content manager.

Living and working in Nunavut, Alberta and Ontario, Klerks said he is, and always will be, a proud Canadian.

Klerks admitted that with all the contacts he has made through social media, he believes face-to-face communication cannot be replaced. Klerks found his beliefs inline with those of the PPC and aims to preserve the true conservative, democratic values he said are found in Canada.

“I stand for freedom and respect, personal responsibility and fairness,” stated Klerks. “I stand for what I support, not what I oppose.”

Conservative representative and incumbent Huron-Bruce MP, Ben Lobb, used his opening three minutes to detail how he sees a new Conservative government building a better, more prosperous Canada by investing in rural infrastructure, water, sewer, roads, bridges, and community centres.

The Conservative MP affirmed his party's plans to restore trading relationships with China, India, and the United States. He claimed that bans on exports to China alone has cost Canada over $1 billion.

Lobb described a Conservative government as “a government who puts more money in your pocket so you can get ahead. If you work hard, you should be able to buy a home, save for retirement, care for your children and parents as they age."

To accomplish these objectives, Lobb stated they would remove GST from home heating and energy bills, scrap the carbon tax, make parental benefits tax free, introduce a fitness tax credit and lower personal taxes.

NDP candidate Tony McQuail noted his educational background in Environmental Studies, decades of farming experience, work with the Minister of Agriculture, and three terms as a school board trustee.

McQuail said it was the NDP’s unique stance on the energy crisis during the first Iraqi war that initially attracted him to the party. Rather than increasing interest rates, the NDP proposed to resolve the issue with energy efficient and renewable energy technologies, McQuail said, and pointed out that if these ideas had been followed 40 years ago, the environment wouldn’t be in the state it is today.

McQuail emphasized the three Rs that motivated him to get involved: representation, regeneration and redistribution.

“In this election, I’m running because I have grandchildren and children,” said McQuail, “and I’m really concerned about what kind of future we’re leaving for them."

Huron-Bruce Liberal candidate, Allan Thompson, announced that the goal for the evening was for residents to determine what their next MP has to offer. Growing up on a farm near Glammis, Thompson said the two important morals he was taught was to always be positive and the value of hard work.

With a background in journalism and teaching, Thompson explained his career was based on listening and communicating, skills that will transcend to representing Huron-Bruce in parliament. Thompson promised that he would work hard and use every tool available to get the job done and strengthen the voice in Ottawa.

“To be heard in Ottawa, you have to listen in Huron-Bruce,” claimed Thompson. “As a candidate I’ve tried to visit every small town and village in this riding to listen to you,” he said.

As a result, Thompson reported that he has heard that too many decisions are made by city residents and said his mission within the Liberal party will be to draw more attention to rural areas.

Heather Conlin, President of the Southport chapter of the Canadian Federation of University Women, took the podium to relay the opening statement of Green Party candidate Nicholas Wendler.

Wendler illustrated the current and impending impacts of the climate crisis, including changing weather patterns, rising ocean temperatures and mass species extinction. Wendler wrote that the Green Party plans to decrease greenhouse gases (GHG) to 60 percent below the 2005 levels.

Referring to the Green Party plan as "Mission Possible" Wendler listed carbon pricing on all sources of carbon dioxide pollution, making all buildings more energy efficient and moving to renewables by 2030 and away from fossil fuels. Wendler also noted a strategy for transitioning workers to new jobs in the clean economy. A Green government would protect 30 percent of fresh water and land, wrote Wendler.

Wendler described their proposal for a proportional representation system to make every vote count.

“The better we are represented by how we vote, the more lasting changes we can make to preserve our home the planet earth,” concluded Conlin on Wendler's behalf.

The floor then opened up to questions from the public, the first from Port Elgin resident Fred Kuntz who asked each candidate to describe the role of nuclear power in their party's plan to avert climate change.

Klerks began by expressing his support for nuclear energy but admitted that his party’s platform doesn’t have anything specific on nuclear energy. “We are looking for the most efficient and the most environmentally friendly ways of generating power,” said Klerks. “I don’t think that we have a problem with nuclear energy,” he added.

Klerks noted that he would like to see more efforts made on the disposal of nuclear waste.

Lobb highlighted the CANDU nuclear technology and said with Canada’s support the technology could go worldwide. Lobb also mentioned micro-reactors as a way to reduce and eliminate the need for diesel generation in northern communities. “I think the future is very, very bright with nuclear energy, and I believe the future is very bright for CANDU, and we all know that the future is bright for Bruce Power,” finished Lobb.

From the NDP platform, McQuail cited that they believe in halting the expansion of nuclear and upgrading the safety and security of current nuclear energy and waste management facilities. “Our nuclear technology is an incredible technological achievement but it’s also a serious biological problem,” McQuail pointed out. “I see nuclear as being a very important part of the transition, but I don’t see it unless we do a much more remarkable job in solving the waste issue,” he said.

Thompson identified nuclear energy as a cornerstone to the local economy as well as a non-emitting energy that has supplied a third of Ontario’s energy for decades.

“This [nuclear energy] makes Huron-Bruce... really a centre, a place that has the knowledge, the innovation, the talent, to end our reliance on fossil fuels,” insisted Thompson. “We are home to alternative energy, not just nuclear, but wind, solar and new ideas in hydrogen that are coming down the pipe.”

Kim Lake of Southampton asked each panel member to identify the most important issue for this election that specifically impacts Huron-Bruce and how they will advocate to see the matter improved.

Klerks responded that the most significant problem in Huron-Bruce is the amount of taxes residents pay and added that the addition of a carbon tax will only make matters worse. Klerks described his party's plan to eliminate taxes for those who make less than $15,000; and for income ranging from $15,000 to $100,000 taxes will be 15 percent.

Klerks also talked about diversifying the local economy so it’s not solely reliant on the nuclear industry. “We’d mentioned recycling before,” said Klerks. "Let’s bring some of that industry into here. Instead of shipping stuff overseas, let’s bring some of those companies here and make things here at home,” he suggested.

PC incumbent Ben Lobb stated the two most pressing issues locally to be the labour shortage and affordability.

To improve the labour shortage, Lobb called for focusing efforts on retraining individuals to fill available positions and get people who are not accounted for in unemployment numbers back into the workforce. Lobb also stressed a need to improve the economic immigration system.

On affordability, Lobb restated the tax cuts mentioned in his opening statement and added that it was going to put money back in people's pockets. "Live is getting more expensive," said Lobb.

McQuail explained that figuring out how to regain control of our speeding economy will become an important survival strategy and recounted the key points of the NDP platform: affordability, housing, healthcare, and childcare; and said “with a fair tax system we can spread the wealth out but we have to get a heck of a lot more creative in the next eleven years as to how to use a lot less energy and have a lot less waste so that we actually, as biological organisms on a living planet, still have a home here."

Thompson echoed his previous point that the rural voices are not being heard at the national level and stressed the importance of an MP communicating with everyone in the community, all 14 municipalities, to accurately represent them in Ottawa. Thompson praised the evening’s event and suggested having a monthly town hall in different communities or a monthly conference call with mayors and reeves.

“You deserve a member of parliament who will work their hardest to get out there, listen to you, hear your voices, work with everyone at every level in this riding to find solutions to the kinds of problems that we face," said Thompson.

Reflective of news headlines across the globe, many of the evening’s questions related to how each party will tackle climate change. One such question came from Jamie Kuhl, a Grade 12 student from Saugeen District Senior School (SDSS) who would be exercising his first opportunity to vote on October 21.

“My future is dependent on your generation’s decisions and that shouldn’t be the case. That should be my responsibility,” said Kuhl, who then questioned the candidates on whether they were prepared to alter their strategies for climate change, that he felt were lacking.

McQuail started off by telling Kuhl that his party plans to lower the voting age to 16 to give the younger generation more of a say. McQuail then spoke of removing carbon from the atmosphere by sequestering carbon in the soil through alternate farming practices.

McQuail agreed that there needs to be much more done than any of the parties are talking about and believes his platform is a good start.

“If I am your MP,” answered McQuail, “I will be working very hard to access money in the department of transportation, agriculture, all the different ministries to figure out trial projects we can do in Huron-Bruce that will help us dramatically lower our energy use while increasing the enjoyment of our community."

Thompson acknowledged Kuhl’s generation as the first to fully realize the climate crisis and the last to have the time to avert the crisis. Thompson referred to the walkouts that took place the previous week in Port Elgin, Goderich and Kincardine and declared that local leaders should be standing beside the younger generation when they decide to take action, helping to support them in any way possible.

“We can put forward a plan, we can get to zero emissions in a generation,” stated Thompson.

The Liberals are proposing to legislate and pass a law to reach their targets and Thompson explained that it’s not just GHG, it’s also investments into alternative sources of energy such as nuclear, hydrogen and other innovations. “We can lead on this and we should,” finished Thompson.

Klerks identified the global reaction to the climate change as hysteria that is directing attention to problems rather than solutions. Klerks stated society’s dependence on fossil fuels and expressed his doubt in breaking this dependancy. He instead questioned why we aren’t looking at better filtering or cleaning systems. Klerks also suggested we shift our focus back to recycling plastics rather than banning them.

“You can build a house out of recycled bottles,” announced Klerks. “Plastic bags can be recycled into roads,” he said.

Lobb shared his pride in his party's comprehensive climate plan that he said deals with many different topics and explained that domestically Canada could be a world leader in green technology and transferring that technology to countries like China or India presents a great opportunity to better the environment and make a profit.

The conservative candidate credited local crop and soil associations to innovative farming practices through farm drainage, no-till farming and maximizing crop efficiency. “There’s a lot that we can do here with our technology and we need to continue to push the envelope,” said Lobb.

In closing remarks, Liberal candidate Allan Thompson recognized the current cynical, negative views that surround politics, and commended everyone who came out and asked questions. He encouraged voters to think very carefully about who they want to represent them in parliament.

Government needs to be there to support the people who really needs them, explained Thompson. “Those who are in lower income, those who really need their government to go to work for them," he said. “That’s my commitment to you," Thompson confirmed.

NDP candidate Tony McQuail warned voters to not only look at policies but also the people who are implementing the policies, referring to the number of times proportional representation has been brought forward but never put into practice. McQuail recounted the three R’s from his opening statement. Representation, to help make real progress on what the majority wants, he said. Regeneration, "because we damn well better start taking better care of this planet or it’s going to stop taking care of us,” he cautioned. Lastly McQuail touched on redistribution and the flaws in an economy that concentrates on the wealth at the top.

Conservative candidate Ben Lobb determined Canada to be at a crossroads where we could invest, cut back on spending, balance the budget, pay down the debt and grown the economy. Lobb recognized Canada’s potential to be a leader on many fronts with the right government and the right leadership to work with the provinces and municipalities.

PPC candidate Kevin Klerks used his final three minutes to communicate the commitments of the PPC platform. His party proposes to lower immigration to a sustainable level and accept the majority of economic immigrants to help stabilize and regrow the economy. Their two year plan to pay off the deficit involves halting corporate bailouts and wasteful foreign aid programs.

“We will end agreements with [the United Nations] regarding climate change, like the Paris Accord, encouraging provinces and territories to develop their own unique and sensible plans to adapt to an ever changing climate.”

Klerks promised lower personal and corporate taxes, the transfer of the GST to provinces to fund their own healthcare system, to respect the rights of gun owners, to only treat the criminals as criminals, and guarantee equal rights and responsibilities to the aboriginal peoples.

Divinski reminded attendants that advance polls were taking place on Thanksgiving weekend, October 11 to 14, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Masonic Hall in Port Elgin. Election day voting will take place on Monday, October 21 from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Southampton Rotary Hall, 39 Grey Street South.

audience

Approximately 150 were in attendance at the October 2 All Candidates Meeting in Saugeen Shores with four of the five Huron Bruce candidates present.

Kuntz

Fred Kuntz from Port Elgin asked candidates to explain the role they see nuclear power playing in their climate change strategy at the Saugeen Shores All Candidates Meeting at the Plex October 2.

Kuhl

Jamie Kuhl, a Grade 12 student from Saugeen District Senior School (SDSS), took his first time voting experience seriously by addressing the Huron-Bruce candidates with a question on the climate crisis.

 

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