Ottawa/Queen's Park




- by Lynne Lundberg, Special to Owen Sound Hub

The third part of our coverage of the all candidates meeting hosted by the Owen Sound Chamber of Commerce. Part 1, Part 2

Audience Question 1: What specific actions do you have in mind to further reconciliation with Indigenous people in our riding?

Ruff would talk to local First Nations people and move forward with the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Report. Den Tandt suggested dealing with the most critical issues first, like providing safe drinking water to Cape Croker andtalk to local First Nations people and move forward with the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Report. Den Tandt suggested dealing  with the most critical issues first, like providing safe drinking water to Cape Croker and federal funding for more housing. Other responses were more general as opposed to specific to the riding. Valiquette would follow the recommendations of the United Nations concerning the rights of Indigenous people and implement suggestions in the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Report. Little restated that the Indian Act should be abolished and he suggests replacing cabinet ministers responsible for First Nations with First Nations people.
Ruff would repeal the Indian Act and forge a brand new relationship with Indigenous people being equal at the table. Stephen’s concerns are safe housing, safe water, and the education funding gap. He suggested that Indigenous people need to be equal partners, especially in regard to climate change.

Audience Question 2: In light of the Ethic’s Commissioner’s report, would you advocate for ethics training for politicians and severe penalties for breaking the ethics regulations? If so, what penalties would you recommend?

Little did not believe you could train politicians but suggested Recall Legislation. “Fire them”. “Get the bums out.” Ruff said that training was needed and is done in the military. Punishment is a good idea. Townsend stated that if you get caught doing something unethical, you should be out. Den Tandt believes that ethics training begins in schools. Students should graduate with a knowledge of right and wrong and a have a “clear idea of boundary lines”. Stephen is a believer in training but suggested that it starts at home with the young. People should be held accountable for unethical behaviour. Valiquette agreed with training and penalties but said that voters had the power to penalize offenders. Simply vote for someone else.

Audience Question 3: Over 4800 community members have said they do not want the Trans Canada Energy hydroelectric storage plant on Southern Georgian Bay for various reasons. There are many environmental reports on these plants and the fish kill and environmental impact is reasonably well documented. Saying you don’t know enough about it at this point in time is not serving your constituents who do not want it here. Do you stand with these constituents who have serious concerns about the proposal?

Ruff cautioned everyone not to over react. There is not enough information and it is only an initial assessment in a one year process. He stated, “if it is not going to work, I am against it”. Townsend indicated that there are some beneficial aspects like the fact that the power doesn’t fluctuate like wind and solar. TC Energy needs to talk to all stakeholders. Den Tandt said that after multiple tests and consultations have been completed, “if it is harmful, I am against it.” Stephen agreed that not enough research has been done but if it is harmful, “we can’t let it go forward”. Valiquette said “the math needs to work”. We should “extend a hand for innovation” but at what cost to the environment? Little suggested that if a company impacts your property you should be able to sue and be compensated. That could be beneficial to everyone.

Audience Question 4: Do you agree with Negative Campaigning? Why or why not?

It was clear from the tone of this meeting that the local candidates do not agree with negative campaigning and confirmed that with their responses. Townsend said that attacking individuals serves no purpose. Den Tandt is proud of the local campaign because no one is using this tactic which he believes to be a “blight on politics”. Stephen was proud to say that locally we are setting a bar for respect. Valiquette mentioned that other candidates had actually informed her about things that needed her attention. Little said there is no place for personal insults. People who use this tactic may have no ideas of their own so they trash others. Ruff wants to change parliament and push his party away from negativity. He has refused to release negative information.

Audience Question 5: If your party is privileged to form the next government, do you see a return to a balanced budget and if so, briefly how?

Den Tandt stated that he is a “fiscal conservative” and added that the Liberals have a fully costed platform and made the point that Canada has the best credit rating in the G7. Stephen wants tax fairness by increasing the taxes of the wealthiest 1% so they pay their share. Valiquette stated that their first platform has been sent to the budget office and is transparent and responsible. For the “how”, she suggests that fossil fuel subsidies should be removed and taxes increased for large corporations and the wealthy. Ruff is committed to a balanced budget and decreasing the debt. To achieve that he would begin by decreasing corporate welfare subsidies and only give foreign aid to countries who actually need it and won’t misuse it. Townsend would cancel corporate welfare, stop sending money to the UN and balance the budget.

Audience Question 6: Will your party bring in proportional representation? Why/why not?

Although all but one favoured change in the electoral process, none committed to making the change. Steven believes that every Canadian wants a fair election to better represent the people instead of the current “first past the post”. Valiquette pointed out that the Liberals had broken their promise to make the change. Currently a party can have 100% of the power with less than 50% of the vote. Little proposed a referendum with several options. Ruff is not a fan of a change in the process. He believes it would be a disadvantage here. Townsend would like to see something more representative but fiscal issues are a priority. Den Tandt confessed that his party should never have made the promise. They learned that it would be an expensive and long process and decided to focus on more pressing issues at the time like NAFTA. He personally would like to see a ranked ballot.

Audience Question 7: Hannah, Evie and Daphne wanted to know “How are you going to help make our future better?”

Valiquette wants to focus on the problem of the world which is climate change. Little believes we need to “stop taking young people’s money”. Ruff said I will “listen to you” and “work my butt off for you.” Townsend believes that it is his job to make sure Canada remains the “best country in the world.” Den Tandt cited climate change, the economy, not giving in to tribalism and racism, and living in peace together as his priorities for improving the future. Stephen promises to have an open door and listen to them. He wants to visit schools and inspire young people to do better things. Little’s focus would be private property rights; the right to a healthy environment; allowing farmers to innovate and reducing government intervention and red tape.

Audience Question 8: What plans do you have for a more environmentally sustainable community in Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound?

Ruff’s priorities are recycling, pollution and supporting conservation groups. Townsend wants to work with provincial and municipal partners to achieve greener homes and buildings by innovating locally, for example, local building codes. Den Tandt recommends no cuts to conservation, changing housing regulations, retrofitting houses, planting trees and supporting the next generation of small generators of nuclear power.
Stephen stated that we have the best climate action group in Owen Sound already. Valiquette was on the Town of Grey Highlands Council that declared a Climate Emergency.

One minute closing remarks followed. Valiquette expressed that we need to act now to repair soil, air and water. We owe it to our children and grandchildren. Stephen said that all parties should be at all debates. He wants everyone to get out to vote and also to encourage others to do so. Den Tandt focused on what the Liberal Party has already done: biggest trade deals, low tax rate, job creation, climate plan, Pharmacare and housing plan. He promises to be a louder voice in Ottawa. Townsend stated that “if nothing changes, you can’t expect change.” He encouraged people to vote and to consider his guiding words: Freedom Responsibility Fairness and Respect. Ruff wants to make life more affordable, stand up for the military and use his experience and strong voice. Little was very succinct. The “deficit is a bloating carcass” and “taxation is theft”.

As the Moderator made his closing remarks, people began to stream out of the room, making it difficult to focus on his words. It was as if these people were in hockey mode. The game is almost over so I have to rush to my vehicle to get out of the Bayshore parking lot. Mr. Gow, Chamber CEO Peter Reesor, the chamber volunteers and the candidates deserved better.

The full two hour meeting is available at





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