Who are the Huron-Bruce candidates and what do they stand for?
by Sandy Lindsay

September 30, 2015


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Huron-Bruce Federal Candidates
(L-R) Gerard Creces (NDP), Jutta Splestoesser (Green Party), Allan Thompson (Liberal) and Ben Lobb (Conservative)

Audience gathered at Walkerton's Victoria Jubilee Hall

Candidates fielded many questions from the audience

The fourth in a series of eight Federal all-candidates meetings for Huron-Bruce riding took place in Walkerton on September 29th at Victoria Jubilee Hall.

Each of the candidates had five minutes to introduce themselves to the more than 100 people in attendance.

Gerard Creces of the NDP, who was formerly in community news, began by saying that Canadian politics was changing and that people would be voting for progress.  He challenged that the government's programs of austerity and cuts and following "...red and blue corruption..", have resulted in the NDP's jump to the forefront of progressive politics. 

"We have been trying for decade to improve our health care, our social networks, our great and sustainable industries and, of course, our food supply. We have to ask why, in only a year, the other parties are just beginning to do the same."

He inferred that the Liberal platform was, in fact, "borrowed from the NDP" and that "Harper is also playing catch-up with the child tax benefits and lowering small business tax rate" and questioned why the issues couldn't be dealt with when each of the parties, (Conservative and Liberal) had held majority governments. 

According to Creces, in rural Ontario, the main issues are about people - inequality, seniors in poverty, the high cost of raising a young family, no jobs for qualified people and no qualified people for jobs.  "The NDP solution, is simple," said Creces, "invest in people.  Invest in dignity in retirement, in main stream jobs, in the safety of the most vulnerable and in agriculture and our food supply", through affordable child daycare, through manufacturing and innovation tax credits.

He said that the NDP were planning to create 200 new medical clinics, hire 7,000 new doctors and nurses and provide adequate services for 1.5 million young people under the age of 24 with mental illness across Canada, all within a balanced budget.

"This election is about making an honest effort because rural society is taking a beating," he said. "People are heavily in debt, seniors are living poverty and this is not the Canada I grew up in.  Profit has taken the place of prosperity and jobs are low-paying and scarce."

Creces went on to criticize the government's lack of dealing with water issues to "short-changing our farmers and continuing to sell out our manufacturing sector.  None of the former governments tried to do anything about it and the "... the Conservative back-bench has coasted for four years in blind obedience". 

According to Creces, in Huron-Bruce, "... in the here and now, the NDP has the best chance to beat Harper's Conservatives".  He said that the NDP leader, Tom Mulcair is "... a man of principle who stands for equality, unity and peace." 

Creces was adamant that Harper has been dismantling Canada for the past four years with Bill C51, by not taking care of humanitarian and environmental crises 'at home' before going to wars abroad, by devaluing labour, using farms as bargaining chips and giving crumbs to seniors.

"It's time to start thinking about the next generation of politics and it's time we took the power back."

Next on the roster, was incumbent candidate Conservative Ben Lobb. 

Lobb started out by saying that since the government (Conservative) was elected in 2006, its main focus has been, and continue to be, jobs, growth and economic opportunities.

"We have provided substantial tax relief in every budget since 2006 and a typical family with children is now receiving tax relief and increased benefits of up to $6,600 per year.  We have also cut the GST from 7% to 5%, establishing and expanding the universal child tax benefit, enacting the family tax cut, increasing the child tax care expense limit and doubling the child fitness tax credit."

Lobb pointed out that small business makes up 98% of all companies in Canada and that Conservative support for Canadian businesses "... remain strong.  We introduced the Small Business Tax Credit, lowered employment insurance premiums, cut red tape, enhanced the Small Business Financing Program to help businesses get the loans they need to grow."

Since 2009, said Lobb, "There has been $130million invested in this riding (Huron-Bruce)."  He pointed out that the Municipality that includes Walkerton received almost $300,000 a year in the form of gas tax transfers, up from $125,000.  "In addition, the County of Bruce, also received $2million in gas tax transfers and that's up from $800,000.  "We have invested locally, the transfers are bankable and are legislated by law."

Lobb stressed that the government has stuck to its plan and this year's budget is balanced with a $1.9Billion surplus.  "We all know however, that we have a lot of work to do, so the question on election day should be ... what's the best way forward?. Our government's low tax and balanced budget is providing real concrete tax relief and enhanced benefits to all Canadians.  This plan is supported by prudent fiscal management and a commitment to help hard-working Canadians by helping them to invest in their homes, covering the cost of their child care, saving for a child's education and prepare for retirement.  It's a plan that is working, taxes are lower and benefits are higher."

He went on to say that the government has accomplished these things because of the choices it has made and because it is rooted in a solid, fiscal foundation of prudent spending, balanced budgets and low public debt.

"Only Conservatives can be counted on to help create jobs and growth," added Lobb. "Only Conservatives can be counted on to make our streets and communities safer.  Only Conservatives can be counted on to defend and promote Canadian values on a world stage.  We are building on that record by cutting the small business tax rate further to 9% over four years.  Small businesses are essential to Canada's overall prosperity."

Exports are up almost 50% since 2009, said Lobb. "Trade is vital to Canada's economic prosperity. Here, at home, increasing the number of trade agreements and reducing tariffs that exporters paid on beans and beef and pork exports, help us remain competitive in world markets."

He said it has been "... an honour to represent Huron-Bruce since 2009."

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Third up to speak was Jutta Splestoesser representing the Green Party and who was pleased to see the diversity in the crowd that included several students and younger people.

Splestoesser started off by asking the audience, "Are you proud to be Canadian?"  Although born in Germany, near the Holland border, where she graduated as an Agriculture Engineer.  She came to Canada on an International Apprenticeship and has lived in Canada for 20 years, becoming a Canadian citizen two years ago.

She said that, given this is her first attempt at running in a Federal Election, she wanted everyone to know who she was, what she stands for and what the Green Party has to offer.

"My experience consists of education, practical work on a farm, with my husband Ralph and four children, and I've held multiple volunteer positions," she explained.  "In the past, I stood up for many things and will continue to do so.  I am not an opportunist and many Canadians are proud of our leader Elizabeth May ... who truly wants to work with all levels of government."

According to Splestoesser, May is very intelligent and addresses the economy like no other leader, pointing out how we (Canada) needs to invest.  "The Mayor of Goderich and of Huron-Kinloss got to meet her and were very impressed.  Few Canadians have had that opportunity.  I am certainly not an orator like "her but I am willing to learn and I have the same values and follow the same principles.

Splestoesser also stressed that she is "... part of a team.  We have the most accessible and comprehensible policy book and I encourage everyone to read it at www.greenparty.ca and see how the Green Party and its Vision 2015 really addresses every major issue, including our balanced budget approach ... 'Green's are conservative spenders."

She went on to explain that the Green Party is based on four main pillars - a sustainable economy, strong communities, good government and real climate action.

Although she acknowledged the recent closing of the Eveready plant in Walkerton, she also said that Huron-Bruce and its citizens have a bright future.  "If we invest in our future, in our infrastructure and future technologies not old technologies and innovation, there will be jobs - if we have serious commitment from the Federal government.

We need to create not only jobs but also hope for all generations and to lessen the gap between rich and poor.  A Canada that works together is what the Green Party stands for."

Last, but not least, to speak was Allan Thompson the Liberal candidate.

Thompson, born and raised in the rural Bruce County community of Glammis, said that he felt the upcoming election  "...  is to be the most important Canadian election in a generation. You have to decide what kind of Prime Minister and what kind of government you want and who, in Huron Bruce, you want as your member of Parliament."

Thompson said it was more important to tell people who each candidate is and what he or she stands for rather than "...reading from a party document ..." .  Thompson, who went to school in Walkerton, said that he studied to be a Journalist and worked for the Toronto Star for 17 years and worked on Parliament Hill for a decade and traveled throughout Africa (Rwanda) with General Romeo Delaire documenting the genocide there.

"I was teaching journalism at Carleton University when my family and I sat down and had a discussion," said Thompson.  "I felt I had reached a crossroads where I could no longer stand by and watch what Stephen Harper was doing to my country and that I had to do something.  So, what could I do?"

Thompsons said he made he decision to return to home to Huron Bruce and represent the riding and help Justin Trudeau form a new government.

"I am talking about three very simple themes - integrity, fairness and the need for a strong rural voice.  I hear every day about integrity on every doorstep.  Many people across Huron Bruce are sick and tired of what they see in Ottawa.  They are tired of the Harper government and his personal style as Prime Minister and they are tired of scandals like the Duffy scandal.  People have lost trust in their government and, frankly, I think the government has lost trust in them.  I am running to do what I can to restore the political process in Canada."

When it comes to fairness, Thompson said it includes many issues, including the Canadian child tax benefit that, under the Liberals, would not be given to everyone across the country such as millionaires.  The Liberal approach is to not give the benefit to the upper income bracket but to those who need it most.

"We need to get back to a Canada where we take care of other before we take care of ourselves," said Thompson, "and help those who need it most. The same applies to seniors.  It is appalling that our seniors have to live on the CPP benefit as it now stands.  The Liberals will work with provinces and employers to increase that benefit by 10% for low income and single seniors.  We need to do more for our seniors in Canada and need to do more for the middle class and those who are trying to join it. Fairness is a touchstone."

According to Thompson, the riding of Huron-Bruce needs a strong rural voice.  "Those who are making the decisions are thinking about cities. A rural riding like this needs someone who will stand up for those who live on farms, on country roads and small towns.  That would be my mission as a member of Parliament."

Following the introductions, a 'lively' question and answer period followed ... to be posted tomorrow. 

To see the first meeting held in Underwood ... Click Here

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Thursday, October 01, 2015