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Debate New Tecumseth provides opportunity to meet provincial candidates

By Wendy Gabrek


On Wednesday, May 30, Debate New Tecumseth hosted an All Candidates meeting at the Alliston Memorial Arena, for candidates vying for the Simcoe–Grey seat in Thursday's provincial election.

Five of the six candidates attended (Jim Wilson PC; David Matthews NDP, Jessica Perry Green, John Wright Libertarian). Liberal candidate, Dan Hambly, declined to attend.

Moderators for the evening were Wendy Gabrek of The Times of New Tecumseth & Adjala–Tosorontio, Marc Biss, Councillor Ward 1 New Tecumseth, and Peter Krol.

Laurie Laing, Next Step Literacy Council of South Simcoe and Don MacNeil, Broadcaster with 92.1 MyFM were originally scheduled to moderate but sent their regrets. Patrick Dol was the time keeper. Evan MacRae was on the door.

Debate New Tecumseth was hosted in association with the Alliston Business Improvement Association, Alliston & District Chamber of Commerce, Tottenham Beeton & District Chamber of Commerce, 92.1 MyFM, and The New Tecumseth Times.

The debate, open to the public, was not televised but members of the public were allowed to take pictures or video as long as they did not disrupt the debate or other attendees. About 200 people attended.

Following the debate, there was an opportunity for the audience to meet the candidates one-on-one.

Debate New Tecumseth followed the following format:

  1. Short Answer: each candidate was asked a question and had 10 seconds to respond
  2. Business Q&A:  Members of the Alliston Business Improvement Association, Alliston & District Chamber of Commerce and Tottenham Beeton & District Chamber of Commerce were each able to ask the candidates two questions. Each candidate had one minute to respond.
  3. Public Q&A: Members of the public took the mic to ask the candidates one question. Each candidate had one minute to respond.
  4. Open Debate:  The moderators asked four questions – submitted by the public. The candidates had two minutes to answer. Each subsequent candidate had 60 seconds for rebuttal.

All questions asked during Debate New Tecumseth were vetted prior to the debate by the moderating panel.

Although there wasn't a clear winner, all of the candidates took part in polite discussion, answering questions about their personal backgrounds, and sharing insight on hot topics.

In case you weren't able to attend, here is a summary:


Personal Choice Q&A


Business Section

NDP – David Matthews: “Our party believes in training, education, and giving small business owners a competitive advantage over larger companies.”

PC – Jim Wilson: “We would cut the red tape placed on small businesses – by all three levels of government...and provide one access portal (where small business owners could look) for answers.”

Green – Jessica Perry: “Our party does support small businesses.” She said the Green's promise to offer more courses and access to information that's affordable. She also said the Greens would cut payroll taxes to help offset the minimum wage hikes.

Libertarian – John Wright: “Our party believes in small business.”

Mike Jerry, Alliston BIA board chair, spoke about the increasing cost of Hydro, auto, corporate and personal insurance, and taxation. He wanted to know what the incoming MPP was prepared to do about it, and when.

Libertarian – John Wright: “We would end the Carbon Tax and repeal the Green Energy Act.” Wright also said that his party would limit taxation.

PC – Jim Wilson: Wilson promised a further 12% reduction on Hydro bills by using the annual dividends to offset rates. He said the PCs would scrap signing 20-year contracts for wind and solar energy that the province couldn't afford, and put $3,500 annually back into every tax payers' pocket. “The government has a lot of money, it needs to go back into your pockets and create jobs.”

Green – Jessica Perry: “Tax isn't a dirty word. We can't continue to say that we're going to cut out taxes when we're not.” Perry added that “it's really tough out there”, adding “people can't afford to buy a house. We need to bring the power back to the municipality.”

NDP – David Matthews: Matthews promised to lower insurance premiums by 15%, and to look at bringing in a provincial insurance plan like Saskatchewan uses. He also said that the rich would face an additional 1% tax hike, and rich corporations a 1.5% increase. “We'll buy back control of Hydro One by using dividends.” He also said the NDP's would look at the Green Energy Act; and look at provincial contracts – canceling some, reducing others.

Colin Oake, President of the Alliston & District Chamber of Commerce, and Lachlan McGurk, Alliston BIA director, also got a turn at the mic, asking about pyramid schemes and wage increases.

Ken Burns, representing the Stevenson Memorial Hospital Board, asked about the sex ed curriculum in schools.

When the floor was turned over to the public, people wanted to know the candidates thoughts on auto insurance rates; climate change and trees; post secondary education costs; labour disputes and teachers on strike; hospital funding; proportional representation; nuclear waste; the new OHIP Plus program; and broadband Internet for rural residents.



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