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Candidates promise high speed internet, climate change plans in Martintown debate

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By Nick Seebruch
Candidates promise high speed internet, climate change plans in Martintown debate
Conservative candidate Eric Duncan holds the microphone at the all candidates debate in Martintown on Tuesday, October 8, 2019 (Nick Seebruch/ Seaway News).

MARTINTOWN, Ontario – Party candidates for the federal riding of Stormont, Dundas and South Glengarry (SD&SG) tackled issues ranging from infrastructure, to internet connectivity, to climate change at their second public debate held in Martintown, hosted by the Good Timers Club, on Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019.

“For the past 15 years our riding has been held by a Conservative MP and we have little to show for it, even when the Conservatives were in power,” said Liberal candidate Heather Megill in her opening statement.

After explaining his record as a former councillor in North Dundas, Mayor of North Dundas and two-time Warden for SD&G, Conservative Party candidate Eric Duncan came to the defense of his mentor, incumbent MP Guy Lauzon.

“Guy brought $150 to $200 million in federal investment to this riding,” he said.

Duncan promised that a Conservative government would work to help the residents of SD&SG and Canada make more money, take the HST off of heating bills, cancel the carbon tax and give an overall tax cut for all Canadians.

Green Party candidate Raheem Aman came to the defense of the idea of a carbon tax.

“What a carbon tax does is try to disincentivize polluters,” Aman explained. “As Greta Thunberg said, ‘the house is on fire.'”

When asked what projects they would bring to the riding and what the riding would look like at the end of their term, all of the candidates agreed that high speed internet and better cell service were top priorities.

“I’m totally on board with high speed internet,” said People’s Party canddiate Sabile Trimm. “It is the biggest thing holding us back.”

Kelsey Schmitz, the NDP candidate went further and argued for a local Economic Development group that brought in all levels of government and local players.

“Too often, we say it is about who’s in office and what team they play for,” she said. “I think it is time for us to bring down those silos.”

Duncan additionally promised to bring more federal jobs to the riding, something that Trimm felt was unlikely to happen, citing that the riding was too close to Ottawa and that the federal government would likely want to spread jobs across the country.

When asked about infrastructure, Megill singled out Hwy. 138 as a particular focus for improvement.

“I was always worried going up and down that road in the Western part of our riding,” Megill said. “By going on the 138, we our taking our lives into our hands.”

One member of the audience, Patrick Burger, who had previously run for the NDP in 2015 asked the candidates what they would do to fight climate change.

“I agree that there is an environmental crisis,” said Trimm, but she explained that more urgent than greenhouses gases was soil erosion. “The soil will die before the greenhouse gases kill you.”

Schmitz said that the solution to climate change had to be holistic, and that answers would be found in green technology.

“I really think one of the biggest issues of our climate crisis is that we don’t see it in our daily lives,” she said. “We need to look at infrastructure and green technology to tackle climate change in a holistic way.”

Duncan touted the Conservative climate policy as being 60 pages with more than 50 action items with an emphasis on green technology and not taxes.

“Commuters are being penalised for driving to work every day by the carbon tax,” he said.

Green Party candidate Raheem Aman attacked both the Conservative and People’s Party position on climate change.

“Eric, I like you, but people need to know that the Conservatives want to cut the carbon tax and that will incentivize polluters,” he said.”They want to build pipelines and use the fossil fuels that are causing climate change. Sabile, I like you too, but your leader Maxime Bernier said he doesn’t believe in climate change.”

He praised the Liberals as doing something, but said that it was not enough.

“My number one issue is climate change,” Megill said. “Harper didn’t talk to the press and he muzzled the climate scientists. If you are inconvenienced by the carbon tax, you will think twice about taking that trip and if you are commuting to Montreal, you will find someone to travel with.”

A recorded debate will be broadcast by YourTV on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

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