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All-candidates meetings begin in Huron Bruce
by Sandy Lindsay

September 16, 2015

Federal

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(L-R) Gerard Creces (NDP), Ben Lobb(Conservative), Juttta Splettstoesser (Green Party)
and Allan Thompson (Liberal)

The Underwood Community Centre was filled to capacity on Monday evening, September 15th, for the first Huron Bruce Federal All-candidates meeting.

It might well have been the most 'civil' of all candidate meetings as each of the candidates laid out their party platforms and their own reasons for running in the upcoming Federal election.

The Candidates, Gerard Creces (NDP), incumbent Ben Lobb (Conservative), Jutta Splettsteosser (Green Party) and Allan Thompson (Liberal), also fielded some tough questions from the audience.

Glen Sutton

Glen Sutton of Kincardine asked each of the candidates to respond to their stand on nuclear power and the proposed deep geologic repository for low and intermediate level waste.

The Green Party's Splettsteosser said that the there are a lot of high costs association with nuclear power.  "There is no doubt the Green Party would rather see renewable energy sources.  We understand however, that it is an important industry and that the decommissioning process and nuclear waste research will keep people employed."

Creces of the NDP said that, as a candidate, he supports nuclear power.  "If we can do R & D here at home and be on the front line of processing waste, then we need to go for it."

Incumbent Conservative Ben Lobb said that he is a big supporter of nuclear power.  "If it weren't for Bruce Power, this province would be in trouble.  There is great innovative work regarding the provincial grid and, when it comes to adaptive phase management of fuel, there is room for other concepts.  We are a country of innovators and, it would be great to do R&D in our own backyard."

Allan Thompson stated that the Liberals are "... clearly the party that supports nuclear. In face, we were instrumental in the development of the CANDU and nuclear power and it is the backbone of energy today.  There are also ambiguities in the other parties.  The NDP have taken the position of being against nuclear power, the P.C. parts actually dismantled AECL and sold CANDU technology at a basement price and, of course, the Green Party has been very clear.  Let me make this crystal clear, we [liberals] are 100 per cent in support of nuclear power."

Another difficult question asked the candidates what was their party philosophy on the 'right to die' or 'right to die with dignity'.

Thompson said that the Supreme Court has been very clear and the law does not respect the Charter of Rights when it comes to the individual's right to die with dignity.  "It is up to us, who make the laws, to also make the tough decision to help those who are going through a personal issue, while respecting the rights of all those who are involved. You should be able to have a choice and we need to confront that and treat it in a respectful way."

Splettstoesser said that she fully supports 'death with dignity'.  "The government should not take that choice away or how we implement that right.  People should have the opportunity to choose."

"This is a very difficult topic," said Lobb, "and each family sees it differently.  We need to recognize the need for palliative care and it is the failure of the province.  There is also the caregiver  and our party has extended caregiver leave to six months and the CPP disability has been significantly increased."

Creces, who said that he is a hospice volunteer, has seen a 'do not resuscitate' (DNR) when people are 'ready to go.  "It would be great to say goodbye to your family while you have the faculty to do so.  We do not have the right to tell someone who wants to go that they can't."

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When the question was raised regarding immigration and refugees and Aboriginal peoples, each candidate had a different take.

Lobb said there was no more generous country for immigration and refugees than Canada.  "Only one other country has taken in more people and that is the United States.  "Our party has worked to streamline the system with express entry and we provide refugees with what other Canadians receive."

Thompson on the other hand saw it differently.  "Canada has slipped and we are no longer the 'more generous'.  We could do much more than we are.  In the 1940s, we received many Dutch people, many of whom settled in this area.  Then we took in some 60,000 Vietnamese. The government can facilitate but it takes communities, churches and service organizations to do more.  When it comes Aboriginals and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, it is a blot on the Canadian landscape and a sad part of our history."

Creces said that, in his opinion, a lot of fear has been generated by political groups.  "For all the fear that has been generated, refugees who come to this country work hard and raise their children. When it come to Aboriginal peoples, we have to quit thinking of it as two different tables.  We have to be on a more equal footing and work together.  We also have to establish an inquiry into missing Aboriginal women."

Splettstoesser said that she knew first-hand about immigration.  "My parents emigrated from East Germany to West.  There are people in  Huron Bruce who welcome refugees and I would like to see the process made easier.

In their summations, each expressed their concerns and what made them decide to run for public office.

Splettstoesser said she wanted to see proportional representation that would result in more individual perspectives and to ensure Canadian freedom.

Lobb said that a caring and compassionate Canada where no one is left behind and expanded on his party's investments in the military when it came to world issues such as Haiti.

"I see the importance of community," said Creces, "and how rural values are caring, strength and determination.  People want change and to change the culture of entitlement that exists in Ottawa."

"I am concerned about our democratic institutions," said Thompson.  "We have lost elements of political debate. The role of the individual in parliament has been significantly diminished.  There is too much centralization in the PMO and it has reached its absolute final state.  I feel I have to try to protect our pillars of democracy through a significant role in Parliament."

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Watch for upcoming debates throughout the next weeks


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