Election candidates face-off in Winchester

DFA and North Dundas Chamber of Commerce host all-candidates debate – The Dundas Federation of Agriculture and North Dundas Chamber of Commerce hosted the first all-candidates debate of the 2018 provincial election in Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry May 17th in Winchester at the Joel Steele Arena. All five candidates running in the riding took questions from an audience of about 75 people. Pictured above (l-r): Sabile Trimm – Libertarian, Jim McDonell – Progressive Conservative, Heather McGill – Liberal, Marc Benoit – NDP, and Elaine Kennedy – Green Party. (The Leader/Blancher photo)

WINCHESTER – A crowd of about 75 people gathered at the Joel Steele Community Centre in Winchester May 17th for an all candidates meeting hosted jointly by the North Dundas Chamber of Commerce and the Dundas Federation of Agriculture.

Those gathered heard opening and closing remarks from all of the candidates who will be on the ballot for the June 7 provincial election.

Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry’s incumbent PC MPP Jim McDonell is seeking a third term representing the riding provincially having served since 2011.

Looking to unseat McDonell are Libertarian Sabile Trimm, Green Party candidate Elaine Kennedy, Liberal Heather Megill and NDP Marc Benoit.

The format of the meeting allowed the audience to ask questions of the candidates and select two candidates to reply.

In total 16 questions were asked of the candidates.

McDonell was asked to respond to the majority of the questions asked (10) followed closely by Megill (9), then Benoit (6), Kennedy (3) and Trimm (2).

One third of the questions from the audience touched on specific rural issues including infrastructure, local food, internet access and public transportation.

Green energy and its associated costs was the subject of three questions as was balancing the provincial budget.

Three questions spoke to City-Counties issues including the gap between services being available in cities rather than rurally, local housing deficiencies and the need to do better at working as a region.

In answering these questions the candidates stuck closely to the scripts of their respective party platforms.

In her opening address Trimm asked people not to vote strategically. “It undermines the process,” she said. She spoke about her party which puts the individual first and foremost.

In her closing Trimm said of parties which have held power, “They are the problem. Since they are the problem, we shouldn’t be looking to them to solve the problems.”

McDonell said that life has become unaffordable under 15 years of Liberal government.

“We need change and under a PC Doug Ford government we will see that change,” he said.

Kennedy chose in her closing remarks to focus on education.

“I firmly believe in one school board, which is what we should have. Not the five that we presently have,” said Kennedy explaining that with those five boards comes the costs of five sets of administrators and more. “That money should be spent in the classrooms where it belongs,” she said.

“I want a bigger piece of the pie for the residents of Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry,” said Megill, saying that the Liberal government has been building Ontario up.

“There is a real contrast between the Liberal and PC party leaders and the NDP lacks experience,” she said in asking for votes.

“Things need to change,” said Benoit, adding that Ontario is facing a crisis in its hospitals, schools and its hydro bills. “We will address that,” he said. In his closing he lumped the Liberal and PC governments together and said that voters are facing a stark choice. “Twenty years of their policies have failed us. It’s time for a change for the better,” he said in asking voters to choose NDP.

June 7 is Provincial Election Day in Ontario.