CAN­DI­DATES SQUARE OFF

Pro­vin­cial elec­tion hope­fuls took the stage on Thurs­day for the first lo­cal de­bate. Here’s a rid­ing-by-rid­ing ac­count of how they per­formed.

Windsor Star - - FRONT PAGE - ANNE JARVIS

Some can­di­dates knew the issues. Some didn’t.

Some could think beyond talk­ing points. Some couldn’t. Some didn’t even an­swer the ques­tions.

It was the main lo­cal de­bate in the pro­vin­cial elec­tion campaign, hosted by the cham­ber of com­merce and labour coun­cil at the Cio­ciaro Club Thurs­day. Here were your can­di­dates in the three lo­cal rid­ings:

WIND­SOR-TECUMSEH

Remy Boul­bol, Lib­er­als Boul­bol is pas­sion­ate and ar­tic­u­late, but she’s run­ning for a tired party that peo­ple want to de­throne. That’s dif­fi­cult. She largely did what she could. She ac­knowl­edged mis­takes: “Things have not been per­fect.” She pro­moted ac­com­plish­ments: “Don’t say for one sec­ond no in­vest­ments have been made,” she said, cit­ing mas­sive in­vest­ments in in­dus­try and ed­u­ca­tion. The gov­ern­ment spent mil­lions in Wind­sor on the univer­sity, col­lege, Herb Gray Park­way.

She laid out the gov­ern­ment’s plan, from ex­pand­ing pre­scrip­tion drug cov­er­age to in­vest­ing $2.1 bil­lion in men­tal health — and do­ing it ef­fi­ciently by elim­i­nat­ing si­los.

But asked about high-speed rail in­clud­ing Wind­sor, she said, “It doesn’t hap­pen overnight.” She should have said un­equiv­o­cally she’ll fight for high-speed rail to Wind­sor.

Asked about li­cens­ing as­sist­edliv­ing homes, she said the Lib­er­als were busy deal­ing with the Har­ris gov­ern­ment’s cuts.

The Con­ser­va­tives have been out of power for 15 years.

Percy Hat­field, NDP

Thirty-five per cent of re­spon­dents in an Ip­sos poll for Global News Tues­day said they would vote for the NDP. The party has vaulted over the Lib­er­als into sec­ond place. Vot­ers are tak­ing a se­ri­ous look at them. They could lead a coali­tion gov­ern­ment in three weeks. Wind­sor’s MPPs could be­come cab­i­net mem­bers. They need to demon­strate grav­i­tas.

But Hat­field, the in­cum­bent, looked like he was coast­ing. He should have ham­mered what he’s go­ing to do when he’s elected. He men­tioned free pre­scrip­tion drugs, den­tal care and day care for low earn­ers, in­vest­ing in skilled trades, mea­sures for small busi­nesses, rais­ing wel­fare and dis­abil­ity pay­ments and more af­ford­able hous­ing. But he spent as much time at­tack­ing the Lib­er­als and Con­ser­va­tives. Asked how his party would ad­dress the debt, a ma­jor is­sue, he an­swered: “No party here can say we have the an­swer on the debt.”

Mo­ham­mad Latif, Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive

The Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives haven’t re­leased a co­her­ent, costed plat­form. So can­di­dates don’t have much to work with. But can­di­dates here showed they don’t have much of a plan, ei­ther. Latif couldn’t fill the al­lot­ted 60 sec­onds to an­swer ques­tions.

What will he do about the debt? “Every­body will see what we are go­ing to do.”

That’s what scares peo­ple. The Con­ser­va­tives say they’ll cut $6 bil­lion, but they won’t say how. How will he help small busi­ness? He’ll cut red tape and lower taxes.

“That’s not a plan,” Boul­bol shot back. “How are you go­ing to cut red tape?”

How will he ad­dress the short­age of em­ploy­ees in some sec­tors? Make sure high school kids choose ap­pren­tice­ships and “guid­ance coun­sel­lors give good ad­vice.”

Wind­sor has a high poverty rate, he said. His party will in­vest in men­tal health.

Let’s not la­bel ev­ery­one liv­ing in poverty men­tally ill, in­ter­jected Boul­bol.

Henry Oulevey, Green Party Oulevey’s party “brings dif­fer­ent solutions,” as he said. Some of them aren’t “the most pop­u­lar,” he said.

That’s only half true. Many peo­ple want them, but the main par­ties won’t touch them. Be­cause the cham­ber of com­merce and labour coun­cil, which hosted the de­bate, agreed to in­clude the Greens, vot­ers get to hear in­ter­est­ing al­ter­na­tives. One is a guar­an­teed ba­sic in­come.

An­other is merg­ing pub­lic and Catholic schools, some­thing other prov­inces have done but On­tario won’t con­sider. An­other is clean, cheap hy­dro­elec­tric power from Que­bec. We get some of our power from this source, but it’s a mys­tery why we don’t get more.

WIND­SOR-WEST

Rino Bor­tolin, Lib­er­als

Bor­tolin is run­ning on his solid record as a city coun­cil­lor rep­re­sent­ing down­town. He cited the new down­town im­prove­ment plan that has al­ready drawn five projects worth tens of mil­lions of dol­lars.

He’s had to fight for ev­ery­thing he’s won. Some­times it gets him in trou­ble, “as many of you know,” he added. He says he’ll bring the same hard work and de­ter­mi­na­tion to his job rep­re­sent­ing Wind­sor-West. Here’s an in­ter­est­ing ob­ser­va­tion by Bor­tolin: “One of the things that’s miss­ing in Queen’s Park is a voice for small and medium mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.” He’s talk­ing about a strat­egy to help mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties deal with va­cant build­ings and blight. It’s a fun­da­men­tal is­sue. If you don’t ad­dress it, you can lose whole neigh­bour­hoods. But you never hear can­di­dates talk about it. Asked how to at­tract jobs, Bor­tolin was the only can­di­date to men­tion the ob­vi­ous here: lever­ag­ing the new bridge to de­velop a lo­gis­tics hub.

Lisa Gret­zky, NDP

Gret­zky re­cites the party’s talk­ing points well, but af­ter four years as the MPP, vot­ers should ex­pect more.

Asked how to at­tract jobs and what about an auto strat­egy, she said the Lib­er­als have had 15 years to come up with an auto strat­egy and haven’t. She’s right. They ap­pointed an auto ad­viser, the re­spected for­mer Toy­ota Canada chair­man Ray Tan­guay. He sub­mit­ted a blueprint to the pro­vin­cial and fed­eral gov­ern­ments in Jan­uary. But we haven’t seen the ag­gres­sive drive that you see in Michigan and even Mex­ico. Gret­zky, whose hus­band is an au­toworker, should have said un­equiv­o­cally we need to do the same thing.

Adam Ibrahim, Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive

Ibrahim’s main point is that his party, which leads the polls with 40 per cent sup­port, will win, so you should elect him to have a voice at the ta­ble. A voice at the ta­ble is de­sir­able, but there are two things wrong with this. That’s not how Wind­sor votes. And if you’re po­si­tion­ing your­self as the gov­ern­ing mem­ber, you should ac­tu­ally an­swer the ques­tions. He largely didn’t. Asked how to at­tract jobs, he spent most of his an­swer re­lay­ing how he’s been cam­paign­ing for a year and a half and he’s knocked on 20,000 doors, through rain, snow and freez­ing tem­per­a­tures. He sounded like he was de­liv­er­ing mail.

Jobs are leav­ing, he said. That’s not true. The is­sue is we have jobs we can’t fill. An­swer­ing a ques­tion about va­cant build­ings, he said peo­ple are leav­ing. That’s not true, ei­ther. Wind­sor’s pop­u­la­tion has re­bounded. Krysta-Glo­vasky-Rids­dale, Green Party

Glo­vasky-Rids­dale is thought­ful and ar­tic­u­late.

How can you run for the Green Party knowing it will never be elected, peo­ple ask her. It can’t be elected if it can’t get its plat­form out, but thanks to this de­bate, it can.

Here’s an­other ex­am­ple of an im­por­tant perspective. Asked how to fight blight, Glo­vasky Rids­dale said we have to stop cre­at­ing it by clos­ing com­mu­nity schools and hos­pi­tals, and build­ing in the mid­dle of nowhere, leav­ing empty store­fronts that peo­ple used to walk to.

How can we make gov­ern­ment more open? Cre­ate open data por­tals for in­for­ma­tion about spend­ing so peo­ple don’t have to file time-con­sum­ing, po­ten­tially ex­pen­sive Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion re­quests.

ES­SEX

Kate Festeryga, Lib­er­als On­tario’s Trans­porta­tion Min­istry told Es­sex County coun­cil in a let­ter on May 4 that it isn’t plan­ning to widen High­way 3 soon be­cause it isn’t ur­gent. It could be done as late as 2021. It’s one of the big­gest issues in the rid­ing. Festeryga did the best she could with it.

“I ab­so­lutely un­der­stand how nec­es­sary it is to fin­ish it,” she said. “We need it now. I ab­so­lutely will pur­sue it at Queen’s Park.” But that’s not likely enough when peo­ple are lit­er­ally dy­ing on this road, and green­houses can’t get their prod­ucts to mar­ket on time be­cause of this road. She wasted her clos­ing state­ment at­tack­ing Doug Ford when she should have said why vot­ers should give her party an­other chance.

Taras Natyshak, NDP

Natyshak, the in­cum­bent, was solid. He was best list­ing how his party would help farm­ers. Straight to the point, he said the party will ex­pand ru­ral broad­band ser­vice be­cause there’s a lot of high-tech in farm­ing, ex­pand cheaper nat­u­ral gas for en­ergy, end time-of-use billing be­cause farm­ers need power all day, and raise the cap on the Risk Man­age­ment Pro­gram. That an­swer is im­por­tant be­cause the NDP is go­ing af­ter new votes in ru­ral South­west­ern On­tario.

Chris Lewis, Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive

What’s the big­gest is­sue in ed­u­ca­tion and how would you fix it? Noth­ing il­lus­trates the lack of knowl­edge and plan bet­ter than Lewis’ an­swer: re­peal the new sex ed­u­ca­tion cur­ricu­lum and con­sult par­ents.

As Festeryga pointed out, par­ents were con­sulted ad nau­seam about this. This is pan­der­ing to the mi­nor­ity of so­cial con­ser­va­tives.

Nancy Panche­shan, Green Party Again, the Greens raised an is­sue oth­ers didn’t. “Cli­mate change is not a sec­ondary is­sue,” Panche­shan said, cit­ing re­peated mas­sive flood­ing in this area. Panche­shan is best known for her long and gutsy fight to pro­tect the Ojib­way Com­plex from a big box de­vel­op­ment. She didn’t win, but we all owe her for her ef­fort.

But she’s not ready for prime time. When she talked about High­way 3, it was about in­stalling charg­ing sta­tions. She’s right that we need to ac­com­mo­date other forms of trans­porta­tion, from pedes­tri­ans to cy­cling, but that wasn’t the is­sue.

She read most of her an­swers from party talk­ing points.

Mo­ham­mad Latif (PC)

Henry Oulevey (Green)

Percy Hat­field (NDP)

Lisa Gret­zky (NDP )

Taras Natyshak (NDP )

Remy Boul­bol (Lib­eral)

Rino Bor­tolin (Lib­eral)

Adam Ibrahim (PC)

Krysta Glo­vasky-Rids­dale (Green)

Nancy Panche­shan (Green )

Kate Festeryga (Lib­eral )

Chris Lewis (PC)

DAN JANISSE

Strik­ing Cae­sars Wind­sor em­ploy­ees walk the picket line on Thurs­day. They’ll vote Fri­day on a deal that could end the strike for the casino’s 2,300 em­ploy­ees.

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