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Applause at all-candidates’ meeting for audience members as well as candidates

Bay of Quinte riding candidates include Joanne Belanger (NDP); Robert Quaiff (Liberal); Cindy Davidson (Libertarian) and incumbent Todd Smith (PC).

The most thunderous applause at Wednesday night’s all-candidates’ meeting at Picton’s Regent Theatre was not in support of any party – but rang out whole-heartedly in support of Picton residents Keith and Valerie Taylor.

“My wife and I are the happiest, most grateful parents in the County right now,” he said as applause erupted from audience members well aware of the recent tribulations the family faced to secure life-saving medical treatment in the United States for their daughter.

“This County helped raised the money to have my daughter’s surgery paid for in Ohio to save her life. She hadn’t been able to eat food for over nine months. She had the surgery in early April and I’m happy to say she is back home eating pizza tonight.”

Joanne Belanger, NDP

A second hearty round of applause filled the room and it was clear what he wanted candidates to address.
“This all happened after OHIP denied our application for funding and I plan to advocate and knock on doors because OHIP should be working for us, not against us,” he said.
Joanne Belanger, social justice advocate and NDP candidate for the Bay of Quinte provincial riding spoke of her party’s platform to “end hallway medicine” to ensure people can get health care when they need it and address people falling through the cracks.


“We hear quite a few stories about how people are denied access to health care they need and certainly improving health care in Ontario has been a major plank in our platform,” she said.

Liberal candidate Robert Quaiff told the audience of co-operative work he, as the County’s mayor, did with incumbent PC candidate Todd Smith.

Todd Smith, PC

“We did work alongside one another in the best interests of Andrea,” he said, noting that OHIP concerns are provincial government territory.


“My office and myself went to great lengths on this issue trying to get to the government on this issue,” said Smith. “While Dr. Hoskins (then health minister) offered a compassionate ear, navigating through those bureacratic rules was very difficult. We need to ensure the services are there when people in our community need the services and not make them wait in excruciating pain to get a signature from a doctor… It was so annoying waiting to try to get someone to sign off on Andrea’s situation… Her case is not unique to Queen’s Park. There are so many people (there) on a regular basis because the system isn’t working for them.”

Smith also spoke of a recent report indicating the province has

Robert Quaiff, Liberal

more health care administrators and bureaucrats than front line providers.

“It’s a big, big problem and we need to ensure we have more doctors, more nurses. We’ve heard while knocking on doors in Prince Edward County there’s still so many without family physicians.”

Libertarian candidate Cindy Davidson said her party’s answer is to open up to subsidized private insurance “so when you have an application that is refused, you have an alternative.”

The evening – the seventh debate for candidates in the new Bay of Quinte riding – was sponsored by the Prince Edward County Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Agriculture. Prepared questions were presented from both groups covering risk management, farming jobs, labels on foods, spending and deficits and skilled trades. There were about 150 people in attendance.

Cindy Davidson, Libertarian

Candidates gave short opening remarks and that’s where Smith garnered the first applause of the evening.

“You win the award for being the largest crowd of the debates so far,” he said wondering aloud if the audience chose to escape the evening’s heat in the air-conditioned Regent Theatre “or you just didn’t want to pay your own electricity bill.”

He stated he has been a strong voice for the past six-and-a-half years at Queen’s Park on many issues – including advocating against the Green Energy Act and the invasion of wind turbines on the South Shore of Prince Edward County.

“A PC government will scrap the Green Energy Act,” he said “and that will be the end of projects on the south shore.”

Quaiff stated he was pleased to have served the past 13 years on Prince Edward County council – the past four as mayor – and said he wanted to “be your MPP to give this area a strong voice at Queen’s Park so that we can continue to work together to build our communities up.”

Quaiff also stated opposition to the Green Energy Act, and noted extensive work with the County’s three protesting community groups as well as his work with the provincial Wainfleet movement that declared “unwilling host” communities.

An audience member sought clarification on recent remarks to the media stating “there’s components with the Green Energy Act that just need tweaking.”

“I can’t control what the media write,” Quaiff said. “What I can tell you is the word ‘tweaking’ is no thank you. What I can tell you is that I know the LRP2 (Large Renewable Procurement) process is currently suspended and it’s suspended because we have enough Green Energy in Ontario right now and the LRP3 is not going to start up until changes have been made.

“All of this started years and years ago with CCSAGE and APPEC and everybody else saying they weren’t opposed to green energy, they were opposed to the placement of industrial wind turbines. I’m not changing that position. I’m going to still advocate for that. What’s puzzling to me is when they say they’re going to cancel the Green Energy Act, rip it up, tear it up, please have substantive numbers of what that is going to cost and what it is you’re going to tear up.”

Belanger and Davidson were not asked to respond to the direct question to Quaiff, as the number of people lined up at the two microphones with questions was weighed against time remaining in the evening.

Another audience member winning a round of hearty applause told the candidates she has been on a housing waiting list for two years and cannot get answers.

“Where I’m living it’s a big struggle. I have to depend on friends, the local food bank, the local church in order to get food in my apartment – on top of a $200 hydro bill that if I don’t pay the whole bill they will cut me off… I need to know from the candidates when and how you’re going to change this whole housing situation.”

Davidson admitted she didn’t have the answers as the Libertarian party as yet lacks experience that is gained by having an MP at Queen’s Park.

Smith called for more affordable housing.

“One of the things we’re proposing is we use excess Ontario lands – old schools, or other properties that are available – and give them to developers for affordable housing.”

Belanger noted that currently in Ontario there are 85,000 families on wait lists for affordable housing.

“That’s very shameful,” she said. “The NDP platform will immediately take a look at building more affordable housing. We simply believe that housing is a right. It’s scandalous that there’s that many people looking for affordable housing. It’s a huge issue here in the County – when you have 660 Air bnbs in the County and people can’t afford to pay their rent or find affordable apartments, that’s shameful.”

Quaiff spoke to the need to continue efforts already under way by the municipality.

“Legislation has to change because in my personal opinion, $230,000 to $250,000 is not an affordable house for a young couple or a person to be able to afford. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done.”

“Maybe we should be asking developers and builders for cash-in-lieu and once we save up enough of that cash, then we can look at building affordable projects municipally run.”

Independent candidate Paul Bordonaro, was not on the stage, but asked the candidates about debt and met audience members in the theatre foyer. Candidates James Engelsman, for the Trillium Party, and Mark Daye, Green Party, are also on the ballot.

Smith closed the evening reiterating his dedication to being a strong voice for the County, its people and many organizations.

Davidson said the Libertarian Party is the fifth largest party in Ontario, known as ‘fringe radical for a long time and not taken seriously’, so she’s thankful to have been given a voice at the debate.”

Quaiff stated the Liberal plan on the table is open, transparent and costed and provides more care for the things people have said they want.

Belanger wrapped up closing remarks speaking about her dedication to social justice over the past 40 years, and a sense of hope in her party’s election platform.

“It’s very easy to be cynical about politics in this point in time with the complexity of our modern lives, and the negativity you often see on social media can lead to a lack of trust and hope that things can be better. I ask that you choose carefully…”

Click here for more information on candidates and links to their websites and social media.

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  1. Dennis Fox says:

    Since this is the only article right now about the provincial election, I feel that expressing my comments here is appropriate…

    With less than a week to Election Day, I have yet to see any sign of any campaign in my area of the County. No one coming to my door, no flyers in my door or mailbox, no lawn signs anywhere around our neighbourhood, no sign of life from any of them – nothing, zip! A couple of weeks ago, we did receive one phone call about a lawn sign, but since we don’t do that for any candidate, we declined. If it wasn’t for the efforts of our local media (like this site), the public would be in the dark. I don’t believe that any of the candidates (including our incumbent) are spending any time or money in campaigning in PEC. I could and should feel insulted – does this show what our future will be like, regardless of who is elected ? It seems that they care only about the greater number of votes outside of PEC.

    Sorry but taking part in a couple of debates isn’t enough and it just doesn’t cut it! I can’t believe with a race that is so close, that not one candidate has bothered to try to get votes from hundreds of people. Despite being ignored – I will vote and I encourage all of you to vote too!

  2. Perry Brodkin says:

    I was OHIP’s lawyer. The Taylor family may wish to consider contacting me with regard to OHIP having denied their Request for Prior Approval for Full Payment of Insured Out-of-Country (OOC) Health Services.

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