Saturday, August 1, 2015

Candidates stumping for votes

In the thick of campaigning for the provincial election on June 12, the four candidates running in Kenora-Rainy River say they’re hearing a similar message: people want change.
But whether that change is a different local representative, or an entirely different government at Queen’s Park, seems to be a question that only will become clear after those people speak with their votes on election day.

“Whether I’m talking with people in Fort Frances, Emo, or Rainy River, the message I hear is the same,” said incumbent MPP and NDP candidate Sarah Campbell.
“It’s time for a government that listens to families in the northwest.
“We’re all tired of hearing about one huge Liberal spending scandal after another,” she added.
“Folks want a fair deal for Northern Ontario,” Campbell noted.
“I’m proud to carry that message to Queen’s Park and I look forward to working with Andrea Horwath to make life here more affordable.”
Without a doubt, Campbell said the main issue on people’s minds is jobs.
“People are already worried about how many good jobs we’ve lost and then they hear Tim Hudak talk about destroying 100,000 more,” she remarked.
“It makes no sense.
“Many of those jobs are in health care, which we already have a shortage of in the region,” Campbell added.
Campbell said the high cost of electricity also is a very real problem in people’s lives.
“We are blessed with some of the lowest-cost hydroelectricity in the country but we pay some of the highest rates,” she noted.
“Since I’ve been elected, I’ve been fighting to make this right,” she stressed.
“That’s why Andrea Horwath and I have a plan to make electricity more affordable.”
For Liberal candidate Anthony Leek, he said it’s clear people want a change as to who represents Kenora-Rainy River at Queen’s Park.
“At the Rainy River and Fort Frances trade shows, local residents were pleased with Kathleen’s Wynne recent visit to our region and were looking for local change to ensure we elect an MPP who is willing to work with the government to deliver positive and constructive results for Rainy River District,” Leek said Monday.
He noted the local economy and local infrastructure investment were the top priorities among the voters he’s spoken with, and in particular “the local impact of Hudak’s pledge to fire 100,000 public-sector
[workers] was a major concern.”
Leek feels the Liberal platform is able to provide many of the answers people are looking for.
“I had positive conversations discussing the importance of the Northern Heritage Fund on local job creation, a small town/rural infrastructure program to repair pressing municipal needs such as aging water pipes, and the importance of the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan to ensure we can all enjoy a financially-secure retirement,” he remarked.
Randy Nickle, the Progressive Conservative candidate for Kenora-Rainy River, attended the trade show in Rainy River, knocked on doors in Emo, and met the public in Fort Frances, Dryden, Sioux Lookout, Hudson, and Red Lake while travelling back and forth between his campaign offices in Kenora, Dryden, and here.
Nickle said different areas of the riding have unique issues, but the biggest ones are the cost of hydro and, in general, the cost of living in Northwestern Ontario.
“They feel there’s lots of pressures on them wherever they turn and whatever they do, whether it’s through the municipality or the province, whether it’s hydro or their water bills in a lot of communities,” he noted.
“Those are the biggest things.
“Our [the PCs] main focus is jobs, and here in Northwestern Ontario that’s a given,” Nickle continued. “It’s a given there’s not a lot of jobs out there and for us, part of our ‘Million Jobs’ plan is to reduce the electricity price by getting rid of some of the bureaucracy in there, as well as eliminating the Green Energy Act.
“Those are two hugely-impactful components of our energy program.”
Nickle noted lowering hydro rates not only would help individual consumers, but foster business and industry investment.
“Here in the Kenora area, the discussion the last couple of days has been that there’s a lot of people who want to move,” he remarked.
“They want to leave Ontario because the cost is just so high.
“That’s why we need to get the budget balanced; start focusing on that because people are fleeing and business are fleeing,” Nickle stressed.
“They’re looking at these extra costs and they’re going, ‘Wow, this isn’t a good place to be.’”
And Nickle said it’s clear to him voters want an election—and want a new government.
“I would honestly say that people are of the sense that something needs to change,” he reasoned.
“When I talk to them, the feeling is the Liberal government needs to change.
“Some people are specifically saying it but the true sentiment among the majority of people I’ve talked to is, ‘Enough is enough.’
“‘What are they doing? Somebody needs to fix the problem. Somebody needs to resolves the issues for the long-term, not just the short-term.’
“And there really seems to be a fair amount of animosity to the existing government right now,” Nickle added.
Meanwhile, local Green Party candidate Tim McKillop said it’s been “a great two weeks on the campaign trail.”
“When talking to the electorate, I am hearing that people are tired of the current state of politics,” said McKillop, who was in Fort Frances on Saturday night working with the Red Cross and assisting the Attawapiskat First Nations’ evacuees who had arrived here.
“There seems to be a real distrust—and even anger—towards the political parties at Queen’s Park because of the events of the past few years,” he noted.
“I have heard from several people that they believe it’s obvious the current minority government is not working and that it is time for a change,” McKillop added.
“They are hoping that this campaign will put some of their concerns back on the political radar.”
Among the people McKillop has spoken to, there seems to be two important issues: the skyrocketing costs of energy and natural resources.
“People have really felt the pinch of increased hydro costs this past year and they want their politicians to address this,” he stressed.
“Surrounding our natural resources, I am hearing plenty of talk about the potential impacts of the ‘Ring of Fire,’ the Energy East pipeline, timber harvesting—particularly in the Whiskey Jack Forest—and the opening of our northern territory to the forestry and mining industries,” said McKillop.

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