First Provincial Debate

Candidates at the debate

It was a packed house for the first debate with all six candidates trying to get their voices heard on the hot topics.

OXFORD COUNTY - Oxford County has had their first look at who could be representing them in Toronto.

Last night all six MPP candidates met for the first time for a provincial debate. The debate happened at Cowan Park in a packed community hall.

Hot topics for the debate included the high-speed rail, minimum wage increase, landfills and provincial deficit.

The high-speed rail came up with most candidates agreeing that it is not what the people of Oxford County want, with the rail going through or around farmland.

As the conversation continued, the debate turned to local transit.

Current MPP, and representative of the Progressive-Conservative Party, Ernie Hardeman talked about why Oxford County's local transit funding is so low.

"I think what is really important is the issue of transit, and the government policy that only funds transit where you already have it.  That's why in Oxford County we don't seem to get transit or get inter-regional transit, because we don't have it."

The proposed landfill was a major topic for the debate, with all sides saying that they want to fight it.

Tim Hodges is the candidate for the Freedom Party, and he had some strong words to say about the landfill.

"I will say that anyone basically with half a brain looking at the proposal by Walker Industries and looking at how an environment assessment works would definitely turn down this proposal."

Independent MPP candidate, Robert Van Ryswyck created an uproar of applause when he gave his passionate opinion on the matter.

"I'd like to say, if you can find someone who wants this dump, I might consider supporting it. If not, it's obvious that we don't want Toronto's trash. Not in our backyards and not in our politicians either."

Health Care was where Tara King, candidate for the NDP made her voice heard. She made it clear that the cuts to health care need to stop.

"We, the NDP will restore hospital funding immediately, and ensure every hospital's annual funding will be at or above inflation and population growth."

Later in the debate, the topic of long-term healthcare came up, and once again, Tara King was a strong voice in the room.

"Maurine Pickering, Gladys Millard, Helen Matheson, Arpad Horvath, Helen Young, Moe Granat, Mary Zurawinski, and James Silcox, the victims under the care of Elizabeth Wettlaufer. Ontario's seniors deserves care that protects their safety, health and treats them with respect and dignity. They deserve a government that makes sure they get it."

The environment was another topic commonly brought to the floor, especially when it came to businesses.

James Howard, candidate for the Liberal Party, talks about how his party has worked on environmental protection.

"The Liberal government is providing over $100 million dollars in businesses of all sizes to encourage new clean technologies and reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

Libertarian candidate, Chris Swift says his party will keep the current bylaws, but would not be in the business of intervening,

"Therefore if a property owner can 100% guarantee responsible assurance to abide by the law and the safety of these rights, we would not be in the business of intervening and preventing the prospect of hundreds of jobs and prosperity for the region."

With all of the small businesses in Oxford County dealing with the recent minimum wage increase, the candidates were all vocal on what their party's plans were for the wage changes.

Hardeman stated that the changes should have been made at a better pace.

"I just want to say that I voted against bill 148 because of the reasons that you mentioned in your question. That the impact on small businesses just... they are not able to absorb that type of an increase in that short of time."

He continued to say that his party plans to keep the current wage change, but instead of increasing to $15 next year, get rid of the income tax for anyone being paid minimum wage.

When the subject of the Ontario Disability Support Program came up, Howard revealed the Liberal's investment plan.

"The Ontario Liberal government is investing $2.3 billion dollars over the next 3 years to support a significant start on reform. The largest single investment in 25 years."

All candidates were happy with the turn out they saw for the debate saying that it means Oxford County's residents care about politics and their region.
 

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