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Meet the Candidates: Lorne Kenney, Liberal Party of Canada

October 18, 2019   ·   0 Comments

In advance of the Federal election on October 21, The Times of New Tecumseth & Adjala–Tosorontio asked the four candidates running for the position of Member of Parliament (MP) in our riding of Simcoe–Grey 15 questions, allowing each candidate to introduce themselves, their party platform, and their personal beliefs in their own, interrupted words, so our readers can make an informed decision on election day.

(Printed in order of receipt)

1. Full Name: Lorne Kenney

2. Town of Residence: Collingwood

3. Length of residency in Simcoe–Grey: We returned to Simcoe-Grey in 2000.  Collingwood is my home town and I was raised there. My family roots in the area go back to the mid 1850s.

4. Primary reason you’re running? The Environment.  We must either wean ourselves off fossil fuels, single use plastics and other products that pollute or add greenhouse gases to the environment. 

I keep thinking of my own grandchildren and I want to do all I can to leave them a habitable planet on which to live. I think I can make my best contribution if I am the Member of Parliament for Simcoe-Grey and part of a government that has done on climate change and the environment than any in Canada’s history – and is poised to do much more when re-elected.

5. Offices/elected positions held in the past:  President, Rotary Club of South Georgian Bay; Vice-President, United Way, Board Member, Elephant Thoughts -Education for a Changing World.

6. Campaign slogan, if any: A fresh and stronger voice for Simcoe-Grey

7. What are the most important challenges facing the riding? My consultations with people in Simcoe-Grey have made it clear that there are many challenges [such as] affordable housing, business development, senior care, opioid addiction, and climate change.  I believe that the single most important challenge is water quality in the southern part of the riding (New Tecumseth, Essa, Adjala-Tosorontio). While not everyone in the riding may be familiar with this issue, for many years, thousands of residents have been forced to put up with unhealthy water that stains their sinks and bathtubs and that makes people ill. Lab tests have confirmed the existence of nasty chemicals. Despite all sorts of promises and plans to fix this, it remains a huge issue for the foreseeable future. I cannot think of a more fundamental purpose of government than to ensure the health and safety of its citizens. Access to clean drinking water is a basic right. This will be my top priority, and I intend to work with citizens and other levels of government in order to achieve good clean drinkable water, the same as prevails in the northern part of the riding.

8. What do you cherish most about this riding?  A vibrant people, first. I have so enjoyed the process of campaigning for this election, because it allows you to approach new people and have conversations that you wouldn’t have normally. I have been learning a great deal as I go along, and I am so grateful for the different advice that I have received. Secondly, we are so blessed to have the geography and extraordinary beauty of Simcoe-Grey.  Every part of it has its unique charm.  Whether taking a dip in Georgian Bay, hiking in the forest beside Alliston, or driving past a field of fresh cut hay, I realize every day that I am so lucky to live here.

9. What type of leader you will be?  Collaborative. Almost every issue facing Simcoe-Grey requires the active cooperation and participation of all levels of government, the private sector, education, civic organizations and others for their solution.

10. What are your priorities for change in our riding – both in the short term, and the long term?

In addition to fixing the water problem in Tottenham, I intend to work on the issues of affordable housing.  Also, it’s very clear that we are underserviced when it comes to facilities for seniors, especially those who are making the transition when their needs for assistance increase.  There are places, such as retirement homes, that are fine, but they are often too expensive for many.  There need to be places that provide assisted living but at far lower cost.

11. What are the biggest fiscal challenges in our riding, and what do you envision as the best way to address them? We do need investment across Simcoe-Grey, for things such as aging hospitals and high schools that are over-capacity.  I am a strong believer in the federal infrastructure fund, the same one that Mr. Scheer and the Conservatives have promised to cancel, because it does enable the federal government to help local communities. However, I should acknowledge the elephant in the room. 

We currently have a Conservative government in Ontario that wants to make cuts everywhere, including to education and healthcare.  Fortunately, Mr. Ford has backtracked in some areas under tremendous public pressure. In other areas, the Federal Liberal government has stepped up and replaced funding for programs, for example, Ontario Legal Aid.  As the representative for Simcoe-Grey, it will be my job to keep a keep a close eye on the potential cuts that could affect our riding, and I will be a strong advocate when needed. Additionally, the Ford government pulled the rug out from the 50 million tree planting program, which threatened several area businesses that had invested heavily in getting prepared for it. Thankfully, the Federal Liberal government (Minister Catherine McKenna) moved in and took it over and has announced that it will be dramatically expanded to 2 billion trees over the next years.

12. What innovative projects would enhance life in this area? I have mentioned the need for projects to get the drinking water situation cleared up.  That surely needs attention. Perhaps reflecting my educational roots as an economist, I would like to actively promote small and medium-size businesses in Simcoe-Grey, especially from the high-tech areas, in order to increase the number of good paying jobs in the riding and to measurably improve our quality of life. It is intertwined, but a healthy, local economy can help young families to purchase homes and keep healthy food on the table, and at the same time boost our tax base without actually increasing taxes, making way for more investment in our communities. I am particularly keen to see innovative agri-businesses that effectively move away from simple commodity production into more specialized areas that are, generally speaking, far better for the individual farm business and which generate better-paying jobs. 

13. What is your perspective on the best way to collaborate with other levels of government to ensure a sustainable and prosperous future for our riding?

It has always been my experience as a professional negotiator and mediator that the best way to get results is to thoroughly understand the other side, and then identify common goals and principles. For example, when it comes to the Province of Ontario, and County and the various Municipal Governments, I would emphasize that my constituents in Simcoe-Grey are the same as theirs.  It also important to be positive and respectful of all the players. But tough and assertive when the situation demands it and the needs of the people are not being met.

14. How do you envision communicating with your constituents? It is really important to me to stay in touch with my constituents in Simcoe-Grey. 

I will certainly be attending special events and meetings of all kinds, in order to hear from people and to share the things going on in Ottawa and elsewhere. I plan to liaise with the media, I intend to maintain an active Facebook presence. Of course, I will always be reachable through text messages, phone and email. Importantly, I hope that people will feel free to drop into my constituency office(s) and my staff and I will be glad to listen, and certainly help them when needed.

15. What will you do to continue to be involved with the community should you not win?

I am certainly doing my best to win! In any case, I will always continue to be actively involved in the community, including through the Rotary Club, and special events, such as the “Walk a mile in her shoes” event for the women’s shelter.  I have set aside my involvement on several boards of various not-for-profit and charitable organizations and, if they’ll have me, I’d probably take them up again.   


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