Huron Bruce All Candidates Debate

Left to right: Huron-Bruce candidates Jan Johnstone (NDP), Colleen Schenk (Liberal), Lisa Thompson (Progressive Conservative) and Andrew Zettel (Family Coalition).

The candidates vying to be the next MPP for Huron-Bruce squared off in a debate in Tiverton last night.

Four of the seven candidates took part in the debate that, not surprisingly, focused largely on wind energy and hydro rates.

Progressive Conservative incumbent Lisa Thompson repeated her party’s pledge to end further renewable energy projects, condemning the Liberal government for stripping away democracy at the municipal level with the Green Energy Act.

Thompson says a PC government would not look to cut teachers, but rather examine every level of bureaucracy to find savings, with a promise to cut 10% of the public sector.

“What’s redundant and what’s a burden on people’s backs. We’re hearing College of Trades. We’re hearing Waste Diversion Ontario, we’re even hearing LHIN’s,” she says. “The three of those agencies together are proving to be barriers of dollars, tax payer dollars, flowing through to front line services”

Liberal candidate Colleen Schenk says the government listened to rural concerns and revamped the public consultation process for wind farms.

“Well, I think, we have put into place now an excellent consultation with the municipalities, and that’s what I’ve talked to as I say a lot of wind groups and that is what they asked for and that is what we have now in place,” says Schenk.

Family Coalition Party candidate Andrew Zettel says he doesn’t blame voters for feeling discouraged by the “big-three” parties.

“I had one woman come to me and say she will just have to plug her nose and check a name off on the ballot,” says Zettel.  “That kind of cynicism is because we find candidates kind of skirting around the questions, refusing to answer people’s questions, and then just kind of following up with the rhetoric of their party leader”

Zettel says his party would cut the prices being paid through the Feed-In Tariff program, while restoring planning authority to municipal governments.

NDP candidate Jan Johnstone went a step further, pledging the NDP would respect “unwilling host” municipalities and only seek renewable projects in areas that want them.  She says we need to let the approvals process determine if the Deep Goelogical Repository for nuclear waste is safe.

“They’re going to continue to consult with the area. And, I guess I trust the process. I’m gonna say that. And I think for all of us, we do. I know that there are concerns that have been expressed by the NDP but I beleive in that I trust the process that’s unfolding,” says Johnstone.

Schenk was the only candidate to declare opposition to the plan to store low-and-intermediate level nuclear waste nearly 700 m below the surface, while Thompson points out the federal government has jurisdiction over the project, but adds she believes the bedrock is safe and can contain the waste for millions of years.