Huron Heights hosts rousing provincial election debate
prior to Student Vote

By Liz Dadson



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It was a rousing debate Tuesday afternoon, as Huron Heights Public School students brought the issues forward on behalf of the four major provincial parties: the Progressive Conservatives (PCs), Liberals, New Democrats (NDP) and Green Party.

It's all part of the Student Vote which takes place Tuesday, at the school, prior to the June 12 provincial election.

Organized by teacher Sylvia Leigh, the program encourages students to learn about democracy and what it's like to vote. She said every Canadian citizen has the right to vote, once he/she turns age 18. Voting also offers the public some control over the government.

Besides the four major parties, Leigh said the provincial election ballot for Huron-Bruce has three other parties represented: the Libertarians, Family Coalition, and Equal Parenting Party.

She said the Huron Heights vote doesn't count in the actual provincial election, but it will count to Student Vote which has about a dozen schools across Bluewater District taking part.

Leigh showed the students what the ballot will look like and how to mark their choice.

Moderators Tyler Brousseau and Ronnie Rouleau then took over.

Each party, represented by the leader and the Huron-Bruce candidate, had an opportunity to make opening remarks, before official questions were posed. These questions focused on health, education, taxes, and the environment.

Julia McGregor as Green Party leader Mike Schreiner, said his is not just a one-issue party. It has a full and comprehensive platform to deal with health and safety, education and the economy, as well as the environment.

If elected, the Green Party would merge the public and separate school systems to improve our children's education.

James Adams as Tim Hudak, leader of the PCs, said his One-Million Jobs plan will get people off unemployment, and promote skilled trades.

"We care about people not the gas plants," he intoned. "The Green Party would shut down Bruce Power. So, if you want your families to be out of work, vote Green!"

Julia Hallam as Huron-Bruce Liberal candidate Colleen Schenk, said the government must put certain policies in place to ensure economic recovery.

"Tim Hudak wants to fire 100,000 public workers," she said. "That means losing meat inspectors, water inspectors - those who protect our clean air and water."

Chelsea Fuller as Huron-Bruce NDP candidate Jan Johnstone, said capping government CEOs' salaries would save $80-million. She pushed for more money for education to ensure schools are well-resourced.

When asked about jobs and the economy, James as Hudak said small businesses should be free to conduct their business, not be forced to fill out useless government forms.

"Our One-Million Jobs plan will work," he said. "Not right away but it will get there."

The PCs plan is to balance the budget and get Ontario out of debt where it's been for the past seven years under Liberal rule.

"The Liberals talk about lowering taxes and increasing the minimum wage," he said. "If you increase minimum wage, you have to increase taxes."

Corbin Gilmour as Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne, shot back that Hudak's math has been calculated in error. "You're not making One-Million Jobs, you're firing 100,00 people."

The Liberals and PCs traded barbs for a bit longer before the moderator brought up the next question about health care which was just as testy.

James as Hudak asked the NDP why it keeps talking about the Government of Canada assisting with health care. "How is helping Alberta going to help Ontario; this is a provincial election."

Chelsea as Johnstone said the money from the Alberta tar sands will assist Ontario.

The debate wrapped up with questions about the environment and education.

Huron Heights teacher Sylvia Leigh holds up an election booth at which the students will be voting Tuesday

An example of the ballot the students will be using to vote

Moderators Tyler Brousseau (L) and Ronnie Rouleau try to maintain order during the provincial election debate at Huron Heights Public School, Tuesday afternoon

Julia Hallam (L) represents Huron-Bruce Liberal candidate Colleen Schenk, while Corbin Gilmour is party leader Kathleen Wynne

Chelsea Fuller (L) is Huron-Bruce NDP candidate Jan Johnstone, while Dax Tompkins is party leader Andrea Horwath

Paige Mercanti (L) represents Huron-Bruce Green Party candidate Adam Werstine, while Julie McGregor is party leader Mike Schreiner

James Adams (L) plays the role of PC Party leader Tim Hudak, while Kady Rice is Huron-Bruce candidate Lisa Thompson

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