Oxford County riding associations lining up federal candidates for Oct. 19 election

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On Sunday the Conservative government called for an October 19 federal election, setting in motion the beginnings of campaigns for each political party in Oxford County.

Current Oxford MP Dave MacKenzie confirmed with the Sentinel-Review he will be running for the position again, saying that this election will be all about the economy and the security of the country.

“I think those are the priorities for Canadians,” MacKenzie said. “Obviously the economy is important and we are still battling the ills beset the world in 2008, and we’re not out of that hole… I think we’re doing fairly well.”

MacKenzie added that locally both CAMI and the Toyota plants are busy, in addition to other local industries.

“The farming community is in pretty good shape,” he added. “I think commodity prices are good and farming is at a good level right now.”

MacKenzie said he anticipates the election will be as usual in Oxford.

“I can’t speak for the other parties,” he said. “They’ve always run good campaigns and have worked hard, as have we. We expect to work as hard as ever and we’ve got a good team in place. But we’re always pleased with the volunteers that are there for us, every election, and this campaign is no different.”

MacKenzie has been the elected MP for Oxford County since 2004, and since then he says there have been some changes.

“It’s certainly different on the ground today than it was in 2004,” he said. “2004, the world was running along fairly good economically, and then with the crash of 2008, it’s a whole different economics out there. It’s this time that you need somebody who has a steady hand on the tiller and keeps the economy going. We’ve also done a lot of things with international trade and I think that’s kept us in good stead, as has our financial institutions.”

The other confirmed candidate is Zoe Kunschner, who will be running as a candidate for the NDP in Oxford.

Kunschner said she is anticipating an historic election in the county.

“We have never been in a better position within the riding association,” she said. “I have been amazed over the last number of months, the number of people reaching out to us to volunteer. The sign requests and volunteer requests that came in yesterday (Sunday) were astonishing.

“So there’s a big, big movement in Oxford,” Kunschner said. “As there is across the country for change.”

Kunschner said there are so many relevant issues that her party is talking about right now, and noted the main thing she has been hearing in the county is that people are working harder, but don’t have good paying jobs and are having issues.

“Seven out of 10 Canadians don’t have a pension,” she said. “Or a pension type of plan. So there’s a really big concern on people about their financial futures. Our platform for supporting our municipalities is very important to help kickstart our local economies. Getting people back to work through infrastructure projects and of course, my personal one, with the trade deals that are being negotiated quite secretly. I’m quite concerned about those, and a lot of people also are.”

Kunschner said the latest of those trade deals is that there is huge pressure being put on Canada to privatize the CBC and Canada Post, as well as open up our dairy supply system.

“Dairy is a huge economic component in Oxford County,” she said. “So what is that going to do for our county’s future if our dairy, poultry and egg industries are threatened?”

As for the early election, Kunschner said she is very cynical when it comes to Harper’s government.

“It’s unnecessary,” she said. “Leading economists and bankers have been saying that, yes… Canada has had five months now of constricted growth and the signs are all pointing to us being in a recession. We have a prime minister who has been telling us for the last five years that he is the economic leader of this country, who has just thrown us into one of the longest elections our country has had, and which will end up being the most expensive election we’ve had.

“So where is the fiscal responsibility with a move like this?” Kunschner asked.

MacKenzie was less cynical, saying that if you listen to Harper he’s, “dead right.”

“The other two leaders have been out there criss-crossing the country on the public’s money, and if we’re going to have a campaign and that’s what they’re doing… then they should spend their party’s money and not the taxpayers money,” he said. “I hear some people… talk about how this is going to cost money, well it’s costing money now anyways.

“I think it’s a moot point,” he added. “Call the election, the parties can spend their money and get on with the election.”

Mike Farlow, president of the Oxford County Green Party Riding Association, said he is the front-runner for candidacy in the county.

“It’s in process, it just needs to be formalized,” Farlow said. “Although it hasn’t been officially proclaimed, I’ve put in my application to be the candidate.”

Farlow said his party believes things can be better.

“I even just look at what’s been happening with Canada Post and the jobs that have been lost because of that,” he said, “and the opportunities for young people to get good paying jobs with a pension. That’s been diminished in every town and every community in the country, specifically Oxford County.

“Then I look at the changes made to war veterans that come back injured,” he continued. “Instead of getting a $50,000-a-year pension for life, they get a $250,000 buy-out.”

Farlow added that, in addition to a host of other things, his party is looking at the implications of what’s happening to the public sector, such as the head of veterans affairs who spoke out against the veterans package who was let go. Or a head of an atomic energy commission, which according to Farlow, could lose their job from shutting down a nuclear reactor because it was unsafe, which he noted happened at Chalk River.

“The idea that instead of having a prime minister’s office that runs the country,” he added, “you have individual members of parliament that speak up for the constituents and can vote the way they like on what they want, based on what they think their community needs are.

“I think the Green Party is definitely the strongest in stating that’s their policy,” Farlow added. “There are no whipped votes.”

Farlow hopes his party will announce its candidate sometime next week.

Michael Odumodu, president of the Oxford County Liberal Riding Association, wasn’t able to comment on Monday, but is expected to make a statement on Tuesday.

bruce.chessell@sunmedia.ca

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