With advance polls now open and election day (June 7, 2018) less than a week away, here’s the lowdown on what your local candidates are looking to achieve.
Pierre Leroux: Liberal
Leroux became the Liberal candidate in early April and has since been targeted for switching parties from the PCs, though he maintains that, as mayor, he’s been supportive of both parties in the past.
“Regardless of party, I am here to represent the people of Glengarry-Prescott-Russell,” he said. That was also his position during a local candidates debate.
A couple of weeks ago, he made a campaign faux pas with an introduction video, which described Vanier (where Leroux grew up) as rundown and crime-ridden. The riding is currently held by fellow Liberal MPP Nathalie Des Rosiers. The video has since been taken down.
As for specific policy positions, Leroux said his priorities are hydro, bringing in natural gas, long-term care and resolving the ambulance issue with Ottawa.
Borrowing a line from his leader, Leroux likened the Liberal government’s decision to “smooth out” power generation costs over a longer time period to paying off a mortgage.
“The reality is the Liberals came into power and they had this major asset replacement that they had to deal with,” he said. “Trust me, I’m not saying that I agree with everything that was done when it comes to the energy file.”
When it comes to renewables, specifically the Eastern Fields wind project the La Nation, Leroux said it should meet the updated standards set out by the province—especially since construction hasn’t even started.
As Eastern Fields is part of the LRP I projects, it’s been grandfathered under the old noise regulations.
“I don’t want to say that I’m going to reverse the decision because I don’t know what the cost implications would be for that,” Leroux said.
He added that part of the problem was the lack of power municipalities had when it comes to these types of project. That sentiment is shared by all candidates.
Leroux suggested the possibility of holding a referendum at the same time as the upcoming municipal election. That would really show how many people are for and against the project. However, under the current legislation, the final decision is made by the province.
When it comes to healthcare, he didn’t give much detail but said he’d focus on long-term care through a “multi-pronged approach” between getting more beds in residences and investing in homecare.
If his MPP bid is unsuccessful, Leroux will seek re-election as Russell mayor.
Amanda Simard: PC
The PC candidate’s campaign has been tight-lipped to say the least. Simard has refused to appear in multiple debates and interview requests are met with crafted messages from her campaign manager, Kevin Budning, consisting primarily of party rhetoric.
Asked how she’d implement policy changes in Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, the message reiterates the current “mess” in Ontario and that she’d work to reduce hydro rates, income tax, bring back jobs and end “hallway health care.”
The positions that could affect this riding are the following: “A PC government will increase the Risk Management Program cap by $50 million annually… enable private sector participation in the expansion of natural gas across Ontario, and partner with providers in order to deliver cellular and broadband expansion across rural Ontario.” On that last point, the current government has already earmarked $71 million for better service in the region, and that’s thanks to the Eastern Ontario Regional Network.
According to the CBC, Simard isn’t the only PC candidate to skip debates with at least 25 others following suit. And let’s not forget the party hasn’t even released a costed platform yet.
Simard’s campaign hasn’t come without its problems. Most notably, Rachel Theriault, one of her volunteers, left to support Leroux. Someone from Simard’s camp said in an emailed statement that Thériault wasn’t officially a member of the team.
Bonnie Jean-Louis: NDP
While she’s been around politics for more than ten years, the NDP candidate has never held elected office and this is her second crack at becoming MPP.
Similar to many candidates, getting Jean-Louis to focus on policies specifically for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell is a bit of a challenge.
“When the NDP proposes things like dental care, pharmacare, and proposes to lower the rates of hydro bills and bringing (Hydro One) back to the public sector rather than privatizing it,” she says, “those are things that at a greater scale would actually help people in our community.”
Jean-Louis is also advocating for reduced class sizes and is adamant about bringing in midwifery services as part of the party’s New Mom Guarantee.
While she concedes it’s not a burning issue, she’d look at opening a birthing centre in the eastern part of the riding. Pressed on why she’s making this one of her priorities, she referred to her own experience of home birth as being very empowering.
“Everybody can be touched by that experience and it’s unfortunate that (right now) it’s not a high amount.”
There’s also a more practical explanation: liberating hospital beds.
“We can ensure that funding in our hospitals goes more towards urgent services than natural births that can be done in a different environment.” The NDP’s platform says it will hire 360 midwives across the province, about three per riding. According to Jean-Louis that would be enough to make the birth centre viable.
When it comes to buying back Hydro One, the party has said that it would lead to a 30 per cent reduction on hydro bills by ending time-of-use pricing and capping salaries for executives. It says it would also ensure rural customers won’t pay more in delivery fees. According to the Toronto Star, critics say the plan could cost $6.4 billion and take 20 years.
Both the Liberal and NDP have said, if elected, they’d spend into deficit.
“You have to spend money to make money,” says Jean-Louis. “I’m not saying that we just want to spend… but life can become more affordable so people can have more buying power in their local communities.”
The platform says it will raise taxes one percentage point on earnings over $220,000 and two points over $300,000. The large part of these expenses, she maintains, will be paid for by raising taxes on corporations. One criticism has been that these tax increases will drive businesses to establish themselves elsewhere.
Jean-Louis supports the development of green energy, but not in its current form. She says right now more projects are “greenwashing” and are being implemented at the expense of communities.
Such big projects are unlikely to ever please everybody so where would she draw the line?
She said the current system is backwards and contracts are signed before proper consultation is done. Asked if she’d fight against the Eastern Fields project, she said, “We have to look at it from a legal perspective… If we cancel it and it’ll cost a lot more to the community. We’d have to explain that to the community and work together to find a solution.”
Finally, if limited to a single term, she’d work on “one thing that would address many issues” and that is to increase the total funding in the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund to $550 million. Specifically for how it would help her riding, she says it could help address issues like the enlargement of the 174 and the Prescott-Russell Recreational Trail.
Joël Charbonneau: Ontario Party
While coming out against the carbon tax, Charbonneau says he’s still in favour of green energy—just not the kind the province is currently investing in.
His solution to the hydro rates debacle is to cancel wind turbine and solar projects, which he says would allow for the removal of the Global Adjustment Fee from your hydro bill. He claimed the cancellation of the projects wouldn’t cost the province anything as he says the contracts under the Green Energy Act were signed in “bad faith”.
The Ontario Party candidate is advocating for the increased use of hydroelectric dams.
“Right now the province produces too much electricity and is paying neighboring jurisdictions to take it off our hands,” he said. “If ever the province is in a position where we need more electricity, I would support buying cheap hydro from Quebec.”
When it comes to health care, Charbonneau said he’d want to see the province stop funding “non-medically necessary elective procedures,” which he said included vasectomies, gender confirming surgery and most abortions.
Pressed on where he would draw the line, Charbonneau said only three per cent of abortions “are considered ‘hard’ cases where the abortion is a result of a rape, incest or the life of the mother is at risk.” He think all abortions should be illegal, but concedes that’s a federal issue. He added that he’d be “willing to compromise” on that three per cent of hard cases as long as the other 97 per cent would be defunded in the province but didn’t say how he’d implement the policy change.
Charbonneau says the funding could be redirected to improve healthcare services in rural communities by hiring more nurses.
As for the sale of the LCBO, he says it would open the market to more vendors. Asked how he thought the sale of cannabis could affect this plan, Charbonneau simply said he didn’t think the government should be involved in the sale of cannabis. Regardless, under the current structure it will be selling through the LCBO subsidiary, the Ontario Cannabis Store, and that’s a factor he’d had to contend with.
Finally, Charbonneau wants to create a “business-friendly environment.” To do so he proposes to “eliminate the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board and force employers to buy private insurance with minimum liability.” Cutting hydro rates and ending corporate subsidies are other policy changes he proposes. His economic plan is business first, and he maintains this will create a better labour environment, but that remains to be seen.
Darcy Neal Donnelly: Libertarian
If you look up Darcy Neal Donnelly’s platform, you’d be hard-pressed to find policy changes proposed for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell.
“The biggest policy change I would work to achieve is to add a ‘sunset clause’ to all existing 380,000 and new legislation and regulations,” he wrote in an email. Essentially every piece of legislation would be reviewed to see whether to keep it or not.
Asked how he would get cross-party support for this, he said, “the economic benefits of reducing over-regulations must be emphasized to achieve voluntary acceptance.” He didn’t provide any more details as to what those benefits would be or a timeline for the review process.
He also wants to remove subsidies for political parties.
Specifically for the riding, finally, he said he’d focus on improving roads, especially Highway 174. He added that he’d “encourage” the construction of three bridges across the Ottawa river: one east of Trim Road, one east of Rockland and one north of Plantagenet. Asked where the need for more bridges came from, he said, “As a trucker listening to fellow truckers over the CB radio, I hear the demand for better crossing points. The ferries are inadequate for our large heavy year round commercial freight movements.”
Asked how these would be funded, he said, “roads and bridges are money pits always needing maintenance and repairs.” They’re also necessary. But, he maintains that taxpayers shouldn’t be footing the bill. Rather, the bridges would be built and operated by the private sector through user fees.
“We as a Libertarian government would NOT offer any incentives to lure private enterprises … All we would do is invite the private sector to compete in providing optional crossing facilities.”
Daniel Reid: Green
The Review made multiple attempts to contact Reid to ask about his priorities for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, but all went unanswered.
Along with Simard, he was the only other candidate to miss the televised candidates debate.
We will update online stories accordingly if new information emerges.
Party leaders often take up more air time, but your local candidate is represents your voice at Queen’s Park.
Correction: a previous version of this article said that Joël Charbonneau said the selling of Hydro One was done in “bad faith” not the contracts signed under the Green Energy Act.