Tillsonburg District Chamber of Commerce hosted a Meet the Candidates event at The Carriage Hall on Wednesday, Sept. 15, giving Oxford County voters a chance to talk informally with candidates in the home stretch leading up to the Monday, Sept. 20 th vote.
Five of the six riding candidates were on site Wednesday. Bob Reid, Green Party of Canada candidate, did not participate.
LIBERAL PARTY OF CANADA
Elizabeth Quinto, Oxford federal Liberal candidate, said the No. 1 priority is for people to vote, and that they are informed, researching all the candidates.
“At the end of the day it’s about exercising your democratic rights,” said Quinto. “That’s the message I want to get across, and make sure that they know that election day is on Sept. 20 th and as well that Oxford needs a change. It needs a change that could really benefit the residents and the people here – a change that has the ear of the current government.”
Suzanne Cowan, national president of the Liberal Party of Canada, visited Wednesday’s Meet the Candidates event in Tillsonburg supporting Quinto.
Earlier she was knocking on doors in Ingersoll with Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, who helped form the affordable childcare policy promoted by the Liberals.
“That’s what they want to tell the residents here – we support you, we have your back, we’re listening, and we support our candidates,” said Quinto. “It’s about putting an eye on our riding where for so long, I feel it’s been neglected. We need more funding, we need more services. We get a lot of support from the federal government, but it’s time we are put on the map.
“I’m here to advocate for Tillsonburg and Oxford County and I’m looking forward, if I get elected, to bringing Tillsonburg and Oxford to the government.”
Quinto, who said she is not only Oxford’s 2021 Liberal candidate but will also be running in the next election, said the country needs to get out of the pandemic crisis.
“They (Liberals) are the only ones with a comprehensive plan to see this through. If you look at the platform, if you look at the policy online you can see that there is something there for all Canadians because we have to move forward together. We have to move forward for everyone.
“I am here to have people put trust in me, and I know I have to earn their respect, and I’m up for the challenge,” Quinto summed up. ”I’m here to work hard and I’m here to work hard for the people of Oxford.”
PEOPLE’S PARTY OF CANADA
Wendy Martin, Oxford federal People’s Party of Canada candidate, said the PPC wants to balance the budget, “so we can put more money into the pockets of Canadians and increase everyone’s wealth and prosperity.
“I think the homestretch message is respect other people, and stand up for your constitutional rights and freedoms, even if it is uncomfortable to talk about,” said Martin who had been in Sarnia earlier Wednesday morning at a PPC event with party leader Maxime Bernier.
“We can’t lose those now, we can’t lose any rights because of fear. Let’s just respect each person’s own personal decision so that we can live through the virus and come out at the end and still have friends.”
CHRISTIAN HERITAGE PARTY
Allen Scovil, Oxford federal Christian Heritage Party candidate, said CHP’s main focus is on beginning and end of life issues, and strengthening families.
“We feel they (families) have been fragmented and torn apart way too much,” said Scovil. “We need to heal them, basically.
“And we’re looking to get our freedoms back. All this business of vaccine passports and what they call ‘cancel culture’ have been taking our freedoms away. We need to get them back so we can live the way God meant us to live.
“We need to have things more just. We need the wealthier people to carry their weight tax-wise. There’s too many stories out there, wealthy people stashing their money overseas so they’re not paying their fair share of the operation of the country. We need to make that more fair.”
Scovil said it’s also important to have a justice system that works fairly and justly, “not so politically as it has been recently.”
NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY
Matthew Chambers, Oxford federal NDP candidate, with five days left in a 36-day election campaign, noted the 2021 election has been unique.
“I say it every time, ‘Let’s be clear – this was an election that was not asked for, that was not wanted,’” said Chambers. “Two-thirds of Canadians made it quite clear that they did not think having an election during a pandemic was a good idea.
“And here we are.
“Since we’re in this election, we’ve got a choice. We can stick with the status quo, that Canada has been ping-ponging between two different parties for the last 154 years, and which just isn’t getting people the results they’re needing, or we can go for an alternative that is actually working for people and putting people first.”
Chambers said the NDP want more affordable housing, expanded health care and child care. And making the wealthy pay their fair share.
“And then there’s a whole host of issues that pertain to rural Canada. Rural connectivity. I’ve lost track of the times where I’ve been out in the country and I’ve lost my cell signal and my internet signal and it drives me up the wall. We need affordable and reliable broadband internet in this country. And cell service – we need to stop bowing down to cell phone moguls and cap the prices of cell phone bills. We know that cell phones are a luxury, but they are also an essential tool for everybody, be it somebody who works downtown or somebody who works out in the fields on a farm. We need to be able to connect and talk to people. It’s just essential to life now.”
Chambers also touched on the supply management system and food security issues.
“I think it’s going to get worse before it gets better. We’re going to see more and more substandard product from the US coming into Canada, and that’s going to start to put even more strain on our dairy farmers and our primary producers. The rules as they are right now are not well enforced because the people at the borders don’t have the necessary funding or the manpower to uphold those rules. And those rules themselves are full of loopholes.
“It’s time that we had somebody in Ottawa that actually stood up and spoke out, not just a few times here and there and in the leadup to an election. We need somebody who is there on our side fighting for us every single day.
“And if I’m so fortunate to be elected, then I fully intend to open a constituency office in Tillsonburg,” said Chambers. “And keep it open.”
CONSERVATIVE PARTY OF CANADA
Dave MacKenzie, Oxford federal Conservative incumbent, who received 48% of riding votes during the 2019 election, said the 2021 compares to no other election because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are very, very respectful to people’s space, so we are not knocking on doors,” said MacKenzie.
“In this election there are no gatherings as such. What we’re all about doing is a soft thing, respecting people, socially distancing.”
Numerous Conservative signs can be seen in the community, both in Tillsonburg and surrounding rural areas.
“It’s difficult to find volunteers because they have the same concerns, and it’s difficult to get somebody to sit at the office. They’re not sure if people are vaccinated,” he said, noting his daughter has been trying to run the office while also running her business. “Having said that, we’re doing just fine.”
Talking to voters, MacKenzie said he is hearing how much people do not want an election right now. He recalled a May 25 vote in the House of Commons that stated, “we would not hold an election while the pandemic was on,” and that holding an election during a pandemic would be irresponsible. That vote carried 327-1, nearly unanimous.
“People are upset,” said MacKenzie. “(Justin) Trudeau voted for it too. So it’s been interesting from that respect.”