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County residents meet Bay of Quinte riding federal election candidates

The Bay of Quinte candidates for the Oct. 21 federal election are Liberal Neil Ellis (incumbent), Conservative Tim Durkin, People’s Part of Canada Paul Bordonaro, Green Danny Celovsky and NDP Stephanie Bell.

A good-sized house at the Regent Theatre experienced a respectful, but unremarkable debate Wednesday night from the five federal election candidates vying for votes on Oct. 21.

Hosted by the Prince Edward County Chamber of Commerce, and the Prince Edward Federation of Agriculture, the two-hour event moderated by Paul Martin, included opening and closing statements, six prepared questions from the two groups, followed by questions from the audience.

“We hope to have a lively, but civil event,” said Martin, before explaining the evening’s proceedings. And for the most part, there was little bashing of parties and no personal attacks.

Prepared questions spoke to investments in infrastructure, supply management, encouraging youth in agriculture, supporting small business and a review of saturated fats.

The public lineup at the microphone was longer than time allowed, but those who were able to be heard asked about affordable housing, reducing the cost of electric vehicles, stopping the killing of animals for food, climate emergencies and incentives, reducing the voting age to 16, the International Joint Commission’s Plan 2014 and youth involved in politics.

The only ‘stumper’ question was the final one of the night from Millennial Laughlin McDonald who wanted to know if the parties had disaster plans should war break out between Russia and America, as the Bay of Quinte sits neatly between two vital Canadian Forces bases.

The candidates, Liberal Neil Ellis (incumbent), Conservative Tim Durkin, NDP Stephanie Bell, Green Danny Celovsky and PPC (People’s Party of Canada) Paul Bordonaro, each received polite, and honest applause following their remarks.

The highlight conversation, by applause, was in answer to Sandy Latchford’s question about how the parties will support small business.

Ellis, a former small business owner and mayor of Belleville, said his party already lowered the small business tax in January and was applauded when he announced the Liberal’s plan to eliminate “swipe” fees on HST and GST that merchants must pay to credit card corporations. “This is a savings of over $500 million a year for small businesses,” said Ellis, following with several other plans in the platform.

Bordonaro stated the PPC party wants to lower everybody’s income tax.

“By lowering everybody’s income tax across the board, that will drive the economy, and drive small business,” he said, then further bemoaned the fact he had never been helped by federal or provincial governments when he ran a small theatre in Toronto. Following a lengthy explanation, he thanked the audience for hearing him out. “I’m not happy about it and I’m glad I could finally say all that to an audience,” he said, to supportive applause.

Celovsky wanted more than two minutes to talk about small business, and the mass market consolidations in every field. “That removes the opportunity for creation of small business. I would rather get a coffee, and a fresh home-made muffin from Jim and Sally up the street, than Tim Hortons from Brazil,” he said, to more applause.

Applause specific to Durkin came speaking to a question from the audience about getting youth involved in politics. The goal, he answered, is to focus on policy, not personal attacks.

“We’re talking on policy tonight, not not talking personal,” said Durkin. “I am so damn sick, I can’t even open my social media anymore. The cynicism in politics has never been worse. When you start making judgments on people, and everybody says everything is right… when everything is right, that means everything is wrong. We don’t have a system that people believe in. All they do is try to ruin each other’s lives and I have to say the big thing is for politics to focus on policy, and not personal attacks, so I thank the people up here for not doing that tonight.”

Celovsky noted he was at Loyalist College earlier in the day and asked students how they felt about their future.

“They are all scared,” he said. “It’s heart-breaking. Somehow we’ve got to get moving, get our asses in gear and give them hope for their futures. They know what’s going on. Are we listening?”

Bell noted an NDP national issue was made of their search for candidates. She said that was a particular search for a diverse party.

“We are actively seeking diversity,” she said. “So we wanted young candidates because we know young candidates will get young people out to vote and get interested because they see somebody like themselves. We wanted young people, we wanted women, we wanted LGBTQS+. We want all these kinds of people because we know that’s the right thing to do.”

Ellis shared a grocery-list of federal programs already in place, and one he initiated, called the Bay of Quinte Youth Council which over the years has some 50 youth discuss issues and reach out with community projects; a Youth to Youth Summit to be held Friday in Tyendinaga, and regular school visits.

During the lightning round of questions as time was running out, the candidates quickly answered yes or no to lowering the voting age to 16. Ellis, Bell and Celovsky were in favour while Durkin and Bordonaro were not.

Bell’s burst of applause related to answering a question about labelling food and a review in better support of saturated fats.

“I’m baffled by this question,” said Bell. “I feel like this is a distraction from the real issue of food insecurity in Prince Edward County and the Bay of Quinte and I’m confused why we are not talking about that, instead of a labelling issue. If the science is wrong, address it; but seriously, why are we not dealing with food insecurity? People need access to information about healthy eating and I’m excited that the Canada Food Guide has at least been updated to be a little bit more approachable, and friendly to the regular person… People need education about what it means to be healthy.”

All candidates were applauded equally at the conclusions of their closing remarks.

Bell asked for votes supporting her bid to be the riding’s NDP representative.

“I believe that our representation should bring real-life experience to the table,” she said. “Representation that is diverse in thought, age, gender and socio-economic background – as diverse and complex as our society is.”

The NDP she says, represents leadership and advocates for workers’ rights, affordability and health care. They are people, not just a party. People that care about other people.”

Celovsky said a vote for the Green Party is a vote for climate action.

“I believe in the science. I believe in the scientists and what they are telling us. I believe what they have been telling us for the past 30 years. I believe in our leaders that they would take action. Our emissions continue to go up. We haven’t reversed anything, let along moving where we should in terms of our targets. If anything, I’m here because I’m pushing for action on this.”

Bordonaro recommends the move to the new PPC.

“The current federal parties continue to grow government, taxes and regulations. We have a fair plan that will benefit all Canadians. We will completely abolish corporate welfare. We will reform income tax. Canadians will all have lower taxes with the first $15,000 of income tax free. We will cancel the capital gains tax… We will cancel the carbon tax… The PPC cares about the environment but do not feel the carbon tax is as effective as good policies. Climate change is real and we will address it with real solutions.”

So often, politics becomes about the people up here, said Durkin. “About the people who go to Ottawa and do politics, but the fact of the matter is that the voter is who this election is about. When you vote you get to have a say and we’re asking for your support as a Conservative government. I believe in people because people have taken a night to come here… everybody that believes in the process. The fact is that whether it’s provincial, municipal or federal, people are worried about cynicism. We make promises we need to keep those promises and that’s what we so worry about right now in politics – the fact that promises aren’t being kept and people are losing faith. I’m not going to make promises I cannot keep.”

“People often ask me what the biggest difference is from serving as mayor to being a member of parliament,” said Ellis. “In my experience it is the rhetoric and political games that politicians play. I hope the circus that we call Question Period does not cloud your opinion on our accomplishments that aren’t televised, or fail to make the sound bites. Our record is 92 per cent of our promises have been kept or we’re working on, so we failed on eight per cent. No government is perfect,” he said, explaining the path his private members’ bill helping homeless veterans took to be approved.

“Healthy debate and discourse should be celebrated and is the best way to serve public interests. Regardless of what party your represent, or what your opinions are, I want to work with you and support your ideas as best as possible. Every Canadian deserves a politician who will represent their needs in a fair, respectful manner. Governments must put the needs of people over politics.”

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  1. LB says:

    Quote – “Why should the wealth of the country be stored in banks and elevators while the idle workman wanders homeless about the streets and the idle loafers who hoard gold only to spend it in riotous living are rolling about in fine carriages?” – Chicago 1893 during an economic downturn.

    All the social programs, taxing of the rich and liberal, conservative and socialist government philosophies over the last 130+ years have yet to resolve the issue of social disparity. My advice? Stop blaming immigration, keep up the good work supporting the food banks, get some help to help grow your business (propose a co-op program arrangement with a local college), rent out part of your dwelling to someone in need and continue to support programs that promote growing businesses and employment.

    I’d go on but I worked 12 hours today and had a yorgurt for lunch. With my friend, the Catholic.

  2. Rob #2 says:

    Today over in Hastings County there are dire reports of the significance of the housing crisis, particularly among those at the low end of the income scale. These include younger people and single mothers.

    It should come as no surprise that when you add over 1,400 (probably a third of the student body) International students to the area, who generally need public transportation and so must live in the City limits of Belleville, that housing there in particular is reduced more than ever.

    Educational tourism has taken really off in these parts over the past couple of years and is the new moneymaker for the Colleges and the associated effects within the community are just shrugged off as a byproduct of this boost to the economy.

    These students will work hard to get ahead here and get part-time/temporary jobs and are generally able to keep them. They will also tell you that the promises they received when they were recruited to study here haven’t always been quite as they thought. They are struggling with housing as well.

    Anyone who spends time out in the community in Belleville would see that of those who are living on the street, pushing the shopping carts around, etc. practically all are people who have likely lived here their whole life. There is an entire class of people, predominantly caucasian, who are full of anger and drugs, with no place to go. Society has little answer beyond throwing money at them.

    I also don’t think there is a coincidence that the numbers of these people down on their luck on the street has gone up since Loyalist launched a significant International recruitment (as all Colleges are doing today).

    There is only so many places to rent in this area. And so many jobs that people can work at that provide enough hours at a decent wage to get by.

    You can wrap yourself in this self-righteous cloak that all immigration is positive. It’s a pretty liberal way of thinking. But it’s hypocritical as it is really just increasing competition for everything – jobs and accommodation mainly. And it demonstrates the raw effects of capitalism perfectly – the weakest, most unfortunate people going without and having nowhere to go for work or accommodation, some ending up on the street.

    I come from the STEM world where you made observations and tried to reach a general conclusion despite outliers and biases. A passing grade in the progressive world is 100%. One outlier and your whole idea must be rejected as discriminatory. That shuts down debate and dialogue and does nothing but push the issue into the closet.

    So as I see it Angela has some valid concerns.

  3. Dennis Fox says:

    Thanks Angela, but let’s be clear at no time did I refer to you or anyone else as a bigot. If people want to discuss immigration “policy,” then that’s fine – but it is not talking policy when immigrant people are being falsely identified for causing a problem they didn’t create. Anyway, onward and upward!

  4. Michelle says:

    How are immigrants offered more?

  5. Angela says:

    Dennis, we are even. I sometimes find your comments off-base and lacking in proof. For the record, recently a close friend of mine died. He was a Jew. I have a young friend who is Jamaican and I have good friends who are gay. I feel that our county was fortunate in receiving the Dutch immigrants who came here many years ago and became such good citizens. I am not a racist or a bigot. I simply feel that our government should look to its own backyard while offering immigrants more than its own people have in some cases.

  6. Rob #2 says:

    Questioning or debating immigration policy should not make you a bigot.

  7. Dennis Fox says:

    Angela – The examples you give do happen and I never said things were perfect – but NONE of the examples you talk about have to do with immigrants. I believe the reason that the system has failed people is due to the rich not sharing with those in need and governments cutting back on healthcare, education, affordable housing, etc… because they feel that cutting taxes for the rich is more important than providing help for those in need. Once again, it has NOTHING to do with immigrants. I grew up in a steel city with kids from every nationality imaginable – they were great people – I find your comments off base and totally lacking in proof.

  8. Angela says:

    As you don your cape to fight bigotry and racism Dennis take a closer look at some of these Canadians you say are so well taken care of. If this were true we would not read of the need for breakfast programs because some children go to school hungry. There would be no adults unable to afford proper dental care, food banks would not be needed and no one would ever be forced to choose between paying the hydro bill or buying groceries. How does any of the aforementioned compute with “well taken care of?”

  9. Chris Keen says:

    Mark, I agree with you. Legal immigrants have sponsors and jobs before they are allowed into the country; refugees have sponsors. We are all one or the other. They will build productive lives here, contribute to our society, and pay taxes.

    I suspect Ms. McTaggart is referring to the illegal immigrants who have been crossing from the U.S. into Canada. That is a whole other issue which cannot be resolved while a certain president remains in office.

  10. Mark says:

    I could never support “feeding our own” and allowing new immigrants to be second class and go hungry. I am shocked at that view.

  11. Dennis Fox says:

    Angela – I believe that “our own” are taken care of and most are taken care of very well. We or our families were all immigrants to this country – so helping immigrants today should be a natural thing for us to do. With what is taking place south of the border with Trump and his anti-immigrant rants, I am particularly on guard and will fight to ensure that neither racism nor bigotry raises its head here – we are better than that and we are Canadian! I have never seen a Canadian go without because immigrants have taken it all – this simply has never happened and is a mistaken belief – one too often promoted by the far right politicians. Lets just help all in need and then there is nothing to worry about. BUt I agree, taking care of everyone is increasingly more difficult.

  12. Fred says:

    I have seen no examples of immigrants receiving more than our current citizens. I think that is fake news. To promote looking after our own and giving immigrants whatever is left over is short sighted and discriminatory. We are better than that.

  13. Angela says:

    @ Dennis – Sometimes I think we wear blinders or choose to be naive. Perhaps we like to think that in our county there are no really poor people. After all there is government assistance and we have food banks. Regrettably even with this aid there are many individuals, couples, and families who struggle. Most of us enter a supermarket and take what we want from its shelves. They come to a food bank and taken what is given. With today’s high rents in the county finding accommodation is a great challenge. There are those willing to work but who cannot find jobs. Some have disabilities that prevent them from working. Our compassion should be directed first and foremost to our own who are in need. Others should be helped to whatever degree is possible without short-changing the folks at home.

  14. Angela says:

    When we have cared for our own who are in need then we should look to helping others. We bring in immigrants and set them up with more than many of our own poor and elderly can afford. If you have ever worked in a food bank then you have seen the need that exists within your own community. It far exceeds what you might imagine.

  15. Dennis Fox says:

    Angela – no one has ever stated that helping people should be determined by where they have come from of how long they have been here. If people need help then we need to help them help them – that is the Canadian way. I do agree with you about not wanting to see tax dollars going into the private pockets of people who don’t need it.

  16. Susan says:

    Charity is for every human being be it a needy loccal or an ineed immigrant. We should not pick and choose.

  17. Angela says:

    Well said, Nancy. I have worked at a food bank and seen first hand how some of our seniors and younger people too struggle. Why should we bend over backward for immigrants when we have people of our own who cannot afford to buy groceries? Why are we supporting the wine growers and other private enterprise when we have elderly people who cannot afford decent living conditions? Charity begins at home.

  18. Mark says:

    Someone is missing opportunities as the Federal Liberals have been providing great incentives and grants to small businesses.

  19. Dennis Fox says:

    Nancy – you seem to be suffering from the long impact of Conservative policies of giving tax breaks to the rich and big business, which was suppose to kick-start re-investment into their businesses and to create new employment – instead they pocketed the money. If it helps any, most people never get financial help from their government – except if you are wineyard or brewery owner – they just got $15 million from the province. I also agree with you that our healthcare could be much better – but it is far too often when both the healthcare and education funding are looked upon by our governments as “unimportant” services, so they try to balance their overspending by attacking those two services for cost savings. You have every right to be angry – but be angry at the right people.

  20. nancy McTaggart says:

    I am a local small business owner of 25+ yrs and senior. I still work full time. Our Government has NEVER assisted me in ANY WAY as a small business owner, operator, chief cook and bottlewasher. Policies and procedures are ANTIQUATED and self serving insomuch as inexperienced, untrained staff who feel they have the right to DICTATE and harass at will. I would gladly discuss these allegations to an educated management person. I further have a problem with Canada continuing to support IMMIGRANTS who are TAXING OUR REVENUE BASE FURTHER. Immigrants are welcomed into Toronto (example city), put up in expensive hotels, fed 3+ meals per day, clothed, given free healthcare for an unspecified length of time (ON MINE & YOUR TAX DOLLAR)?!?! I did NOT sign up for this!!! Neither myself or my husband have pensions so we have to live on (our CCP & OAP) PLUS savings as the $2600 per month allowed doesn’t pay our living expenses as a home owner) Our “Government” health care is meager. NO DENTAL; LACK OF DOCTORS; handling fees for all meds can be expensive; NO ORTHOTICS; ETC. Living costs are extreme: food prices; electricity costs; heating costs; transportation costs; EDUCATION costs/issues. Our world is at risk with climate change that few seem to be taking seriously. Is there ANY Politician who has addressed ALL these issues? WHY is TRUDEAU wanting to give money back to people? it is a NOTHING amount to refund ….why not increase tax to the wealthy/profitable business; why not clean up his own house first – excess government personnel? (I say this because of my first hand experience with government agencies). I could go on but it is after 5pm on Friday.

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