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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Keady All Candidates Meeting Tackles Rural Issues

Keady | by John Divinski  

The subjects were familiar but all had an agricultural bent in Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound.

The subjects were familiar but all had an agricultural bent on them as the Grey County Federation of Agriculture hosted an all-candidates meeting for Bruce Grey Owen Sound riding hopefuls.

Around 100 people were at the Keady Community Centre to hear candidates discuss economic development, transportation, high speed Internet in rural communities, energy costs and labour shortfalls and how they affect the agriculture industry.

Liberal candidate Francesca Dobbyn says the Liberal government has committed millions of dollars into rural communities.

Dobbyn says $500-million has been invested into the Southwest Integrated Fibre Technology or SWIFT project because her government believes that farms have become a high-tech business and high speed broadband is needed to compete on a global scale.

She says the government has also invested in infrastructure, roads and bridges and also invested in protecting agricultural land and forestry.

NDP candidate Karen Gventer says her party doesn't have a special agricultural policy because they don't need one.

Gventer says, unlike the other parties, their platform has rural Ontario incorporated throughout the document.

She says rural Ontario is not an "afterthought" but is part of the NDP platform that highlights free pharmacare and dental service, along with a plan to reduce energy costs by 30% by buying back Hydro 1 that was sold to the public.

Trillium Party candidate Elizabeth Marshall says her party wants to change the entire set-up at Queen's Park so members don't have to tow a party line in a vote but can vote according to the needs of those in their riding, be it agriculture or urban.

Marshall says until the system is changed, failures in government will continue as the debt grows out of control.

Attending his first all-candidates meeting was Enos Martin, representing the Alliance Party.

He says his party wants to bring in the Farmgate Act which will allow farmers to sell directly to consumers who want that sort of service.

Martin pinpointed the sale of eggs and raw milk as two commodities that should be allowed to be sold without any government intervention.

He stated no matter what issue is brought up, it can be traced back to too much bureaucracy in the government which his party would reduce.

Incumbent Progressive Conservative Bill Walker says his party recognizes farmers as legitimate business people that need to be shown respect for the work they do.

He says the PC's would lower energy costs and lower gas prices to allow farmers to get the job done.

Walker says farmers are the backbone of the world, stating without them "We don't have our food and that means we have nothing."

Libertarian Jay Miller and Green Party candidate Don Marshall, along with Janice Kaikkonen of the Consensus Ontario party did not attend the Tuesday night all-candidates meeting.

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