Candidates lock horns in Cornwall as days count down to election

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From left at a political debate in Cornwall are candidates Shawn McRae, Jim McDonell, John Earle and Elaine MacDonald.

CORNWALL, Ontario – Local Tory candidate Jim McDonell unloaded with both barrels at a Cornwall debate Thursday night, accusing other parties of mismanaging the Ontario economy to the point of collapse.

But NDP candidate Elaine MacDonald returned fire, effectively countering arguments as the days count down to the June 12 election.

McDonell, who faced off at the Cornwall Civic Complex with MacDonald, John Earle (Liberal) and Shawn McRae (Libertarian), told several hundred in the audience that he sees a number of constituents who are unable to pay for the necessities of life thanks to skyrocketing prices elsewhere – energy in particular.

“I see people coming in every day who can’t afford their power bill or they can’t afford to buy food,” he said. “They can’t keep up with the huge increases in hydro.”

McDonell hammered away at the governing Liberals, which operated a minority government with the support of the NDP.

But the jabs were countered by MacDonald, who suggested an NDP government won’t make promises about cutting taxes to help kick start the economy, because it is not realistic.

“Will we reduce taxes? The simple answer is no. Companies have stockpiled the wealth and it’s just sitting there. It’s dead money,” she said, adding her party will create a so-called Ministry of Savings. “What we will do is respect your tax dollars and make them work for you.

“You don’t have to study anything more than the corner store. If the price of bread goes up and your wages don’t you will go hungry.”

Much was also made of the scandals that have plagued the Kathleen Wynne Liberal government, including a failed gas plant and accusations of misspending.

But Earle ignored the jabs, and suggested the recent economic downturn was systemic, and he attacked Tory leader Tim Hudak for a plan that will see public servants cut.

“Tim Hudak wants to fire 100,000 people,” he thundered. “We’re looking at capping hospital parking fees. We want to keep full-day kindergarten, which saved families an average of $6,500 a year.”

McRae took a shot at the government bureaucracy that often hampers the ability of small businesses, including farms, to hire people.

“We’re living in a situation where there is no prospect of me hiring anybody to work for me,” he said. “The risk of hiring a kid to work around my farm – I wouldn’t even consider it, I’m sorry.

“It’s big government that’s been driving companies out of business.”

More to come.

Geographic location: Ontario

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