EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the second in a series of profiles on candidates leading up to the June 12 election. We continue with Liberal candidate John Earle.
Local Liberal candidate John Earle speaks with some school children outside his campaign office on Pitt Street.
CORNWALL, Ontario - Provincial Liberal candidate John Earle has come out swinging in an attempt to unseat Tory incumbent Jim McDonell.
In an interview that covered a range of topics, Earle hammered away at McDonell and the Progressive-Conservative party - even dragging language issues into the debate - suggesting the Tory MPP with one term under his belt has failed to effectively represent Stormont-Dundas and South Glengarry.
"I feel strongly as a bilingual resident that we've ignored our Francophone community over the past three years," he said. "I think it's important that we leverage our Francophone community…as a selling point for our riding to attract more companies and more people."
Earle, who is well-known in the community through his movie-making and business connections, said he wants to bring a more "creative" approach to representing the riding.
It will be an uphill climb for the political rookie, who is also grappling with answering questions about a governing Liberal party that has come under fire with accusations of improper spending and a scandal concerning a failed gas plant in southern Ontario.
"Obviously there are some questions when we get to the door," he said of hundreds of campaign stops he has made in the riding. "Out of the 3,000 doors I've knocked on in this campaign, I've only had a handful of people who were less than polite.
"I've only been to one house where people said they were excited about the cuts – but they also said they were going to vote for Trudeau, though, so…"
The cuts Earle is referring to are the 100,000 jobs provincial Tory leader Tim Hudak has ear-marked for elimination.
Conservatives, including McDonell, have suggested the cuts are likely to come through attrition - but Earle isn't buying it.
"There's a lot of people who are scared that if Hudak gets in there will be 100,000 jobs cut. And he's going to do it," he said. "It's not fear-mongering. We're reading what Tim Hudak has put out. He re-enforces it daily that he's going to make these cuts.
"Is it fear-mongering when you look at the fact that Tim Hudak was a cabinet minister during the (Mike) Harris government…and they made all those cuts back then. I'm just looking at what happened in the past and I'm worried history will repeat itself."
Instead Earle wants to create an atmosphere in the riding where economic development can be spurred by attracting more workers, and new business – regardless of size- to fill empty space available in industrial parks in Cornwall and the balance of the riding.
"We've spoken with so many people who have come in the past who are attracted by the fact that…this riding is a bilingual riding," said Earle. "Why aren’t we promoting that? Why aren’t we looking to attract businesses and people to live here and work here?
"It hasn’t been happening in the last three years from what I've heard and seen. This can improve economic development in our riding. They can open businesses or work in factories – that's better economic development for our riding."
Earle further suggested he's heard from disgruntled voters who claim McDonell' has been unable to address local issues on their behalf.
"It’s a broken record, but I keep saying I want to be a voice for this riding," he said. "But we haven’t had a voice for the last three years. And I'm saying that because people have come in to my office since we've opened with issues, saying 'Can you help? Because I've been to see our MPP and he hasn’t been able to.'"
Earle will get to lock horns with McDonell and NDP candidate Elaine MacDonald Thursday night when the Cornwall and Area Chamber of Commerce hosts a live debate at 7 p.m. in the salons at the Cornwall Civic Complex.