There were moments of terse jabs, but overall Wednesday night’s all-candidates meeting remained civil and ended with mutual support for the riding’s best candidate, whomever that may be.
Six candidates running to replace long-time Simcoe North MP Bruce Stanton made presentations and responded to pre-submitted questions to a virtual Zoom audience, as hosted and moderated by the Southern Georgian Bay Chamber of Commerce.
In attendance were Krystal Brooks (Green Party of Canada), Adam Chambers (Conservative Party of Canada), Janet-Lynne Durnford (New Democratic Party of Canada), Russ Emo (Christian Heritage Party), Stephen Makk (People’s Party of Canada), and Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux (Liberal Party of Canada).
Peter Kostiw, president of the SGBCC and moderator for the hour-long meeting, reminded the public that, “the purpose is to enlighten us on the positions of the candidates rather than to debate the issues.”
Four pre-selected questions were posed for each candidate to answer in two-minute limits, with everyone adhering tightly to the set rules.
1: Do you believe that humans caused global warming?
Yes, said all candidates to varying degrees, except for Emo.
“There’s other factors, but to say that humans can be 100% at fault for global warming; I don’t believe it can be proven,” Emo stated, adding that sources external to himself said that climate change was false as quoted on YouTube.
Chambers and Wesley-Esquimaux aligned in their responses that the ecology of Simcoe North requires deep protection, before deviating to their respective party lines of the Conservatives noting the punishing carbon tax and the Liberals with their call for an adaptive regenerative plan.
Makk stated that climate change wasn’t an emergency issue; Durnford called it an existential threat of urgent priority; and Brooks said it was irrefutable science.
2: Do you think that your party’s plan to balance the budget is realistic?
Durnford said her party’s platform had been costed while reading from the NDP script about taxing the ultra-rich to offset social services.
Brooks mentioned the Green’s 2019 plan had been fully vetted and approved by a parliamentary budget officer as viable.
Makk called the PPC four-year plan to balance the budget “tough, realistic, but also essential“ while Emo said the CHP plan would pay off the national debt through loans and introduce mandatory balanced budgets.
“The economy is fragile right now, and so are the people,” said Wesley-Esquimaux who remarked that the Liberal budget would be balanced in the future, but that “taking services away now will only hurt more people”.
Added Chambers of the aggressive Conservative plan: “We absolutely need to be focused on restraining the growth of government and make sure that we leave a financial position for the next generation that is fair.”
3: What is your stance on mandatory vaccinations of health care workers?
Makk and Emo both stated mandatory vaccinations were a direct violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Durnford remarked, “In a free and democratic society, our individual rights are lawfully limited when they infringe on the rights and freedoms of others.” Earlier this week, Durnford invited all six Simcoe North candidates to record a “Get the shot!” video, for which only four agreed.
Brooks noted that the vaccination has been proven safe, while Wesley-Esquimaux again aligned with Chambers that mandatory vaccinations are “not a federal pursuit.“
Moderator Kostiw mentioned, “under different circumstances, we could have gone on with that juicy debate,” before heading to the final question.
4: Do you agree with subsidies to the oil and gas industry?
Chambers stated that royalty payments and corporate welfare was unhealthy for taxpayers, and equity shares worked better in the past.
Wesley-Esquimaux cited that the planet can regenerate, using an Indigenous saying: “When will the humans understand that you can’t eat money?”
Brooks provided examples of the ultra-rich getting richer as low-income jobs disappeared since the last election.
“It’s no wonder that 40% of voters in Simcoe North don’t show up on Election Day,” she said, adding that the federal government spent more time looking after corporations than average Canadians.
“I oppose all forms of corporate welfare,” said Makk, “and corporate capture of the regulatory system, the latter of which is the bigger problem in my opinion.”
Emo also opposed all subsidies, with the intent to stop reckless spending.
The meeting was recorded and will be available on the Southern Georgian Bay Chamber of Commerce website.