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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound Candidates Debate Rural Issues

Keady | by Cody Misner  

Candidates from the NDP, Conservative, Green, Liberal and People's Party were all in attendance.

Left to right, Micheal Den Tandt Liberal, Danielle Valiquette Green, Bill Townsend PPC, Chris Stephens NDP, Alex Ruff Conservative 

Five candidates running for MP of Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound met at the Keady Community Centre on Tuesday night for a debate centered around rural communities and agriculture.

Candidates from the NDP, Conservatives, Greens, Liberals and People's Party were all in attendance.

Missing was Libertarian Party Candidate Dan Little.

The discussion, hosted by the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, centered around five questions ranging from broadband internet in rural communities to economic growth in rural areas.

All the candidates agreed rural voices are often overpowered by larger urban centres on many issues and that stronger representation for areas like this riding are heavily needed.

One of the topics put in the spotlight recently after the Prime Minister's visit to Owen Sound is the need for high speed internet in rural communities.

This is another issue that all candidates agreed needed to be addressed. However, it was the method of implementation that varied.  

Michael Den Tandt of the Liberal Party cited Justin Trudeau's sit down with rural business owners in Owen Sound about internet needs to showcase the importance of this issue to his party saying "you can't have a plan for economic development or even economic development in small towns and cities without high speed access as good in the country as in the city."

Alex Ruff, the Conservative Party candidate, criticized the Prime Minister's timing of the Owen Sound meeting as political tactics just days before the election was called saying "On the eve of the election being called that's when the Prime Minister makes these announcements and now it's all important. This issue would be a priority for me and the Conservative Party now."

Danielle Valiquette of the Green Party believes better broadband speeds for rural communities would drive growth and population retention saying "I think it would be such an economic boost but also keep our kids here and allow them to contribute the way they could in the city."

Bill Townsend of the People's Party of Canada agrees better broadband speeds are needed but believes that it can be accomplished by supporting smaller internet providers saying "the bigger players have the option of lobbying the CRTC, they have a way of having input to that but the small guys don't."

And Chris Stephen of the NDP agreed with the need for better rural internet services saying "Connectivity is of vital importance in rural areas and the NDP plan to improve internet and cell phone access as quickly as we can."

Other interesting comments made were centered around the current federal government's handling of trade disputes with China, disputes that having been impacting farmers.

Alex Ruff criticized the Liberals' slow response to designating an ambassador to the disputes, believing the conservatives could have handled the situation better.

"I'm not saying we will just get up there and bang this through over night but it takes leadership," he says.

Townsend on the other hand finds the idea that Canada is involved in a trade war with China due to an arrest of the Huawei CEO at the request of the American government an unwinnable battle saying "it's like being somebody's drug mule, you do the job and take the drugs across the border and we got caught and are now suffering for it."

Unrelated to trade disputes with China, Michael Den Tandt criticized the actions of the provincial Ford Government in Ontario five times while answering various questions.

These criticisms mainly centered around various cuts made by the Ford government.

When asked if residents of Ontario could expect a federal government at odds with the provincial government if the Liberals are re-elected, Den tandt states "The Ford government is going out right now and threatening gas stations with a $10,000 fine if they don't put a sticker on gas pumps that provides misleading information about the price on carbon, they are the ones offside here."

Two more all candidates debates are planned before the election date on October 21st.  


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