Tbnewswatch Local News
Thursday July 2 2015
7:09 PM EDT
2014-06-02 at 22:54

Candidates forum: Education takes centre stage during Superior-North debate

From left: Northern Ontario Heritage candidate Paul Sloan, Green candidate Joseph Leblanc, Libertarian candidate Tamara Johnson, Liberal candidate Michael Gravelle, NDP candidate Andrew Foulds and PC candidate Derek Parks participate in a Thunder Bay-Superior North debate on Monday evening.
Matt Vis, tbnewswatch.com
From left: Northern Ontario Heritage candidate Paul Sloan, Green candidate Joseph Leblanc, Libertarian candidate Tamara Johnson, Liberal candidate Michael Gravelle, NDP candidate Andrew Foulds and PC candidate Derek Parks participate in a Thunder Bay-Superior North debate on Monday evening.
By Matt Vis, tbnewswatch.com

THUNDER BAY -- Education issues took centre stage in a debate for all candidates vying for the Thunder Bay-Superior North riding.

Focusing on a host of economic, social and environmental topics, the six registered candidates appearing on the June 12 electoral ballot participated in a relatively civil debate, hosted by the Lakehead University Student Union at the Outpost on Monday.

The debate, which was effectively a question and answer session, is the only one for the riding that invited all registered candidates or was free to members of the public.

NDP candidate Andrew Foulds took charge on the education topics, at one point saying the costs of post-secondary education are “almost crippling” to most middle class families and reiterated his party’s pledge to freeze tuition fees and remove interest from student loans.

Story continues after video. Video provided by Lakehead University Student Union. 

A university or college education should not be accessible only to those with wealth, Foulds argued.

Progressive Conservative candidate Derek Parks did not win any favours with the audience when he said he did not consider freezing fees as a realistic solution, explaining there would be too many trickle down effects throughout the system.

Liberal candidate Michael Gravelle said his party is committed to maintaining their 30 per cent off tuition grant, an initiative he claimed the PCs would scrap. He added the Liberals had increased spending and increased public confidence in the educational system since forming government in 2003.

Green candidate Joseph Leblanc, who was a crowd favourite, disputed that argument and said he has seen costs wildly increase while pursuing his doctorate.

Leblanc also said he supports amalgamating the Catholic and public school boards into a single entity. He argued it is not fair for teachers to be discriminated from publicly funded positions based on religious views.

That view was echoed by Libertarian candidate Tamara Johnson and Northern Ontario Heritage candidate Paul Sloan.

Johnson had perhaps the most perplexing answer of the evening when asked for her opinion on the province’s role in regulating tuition fees.

“The Liberals wasted $1.1 billion of hard earned tax dollars, money that didn’t go towards education,” she said as her entire response to the question.

One of the closest instances the candidates came to actually debating one another was during a question asking how candidates would balance education funding between elementary, secondary and post-secondary levels.

After Foulds gave a passionate response slamming the practice of split classes, Parks responded by saying he doesn’t believe they have a detrimental effect on learning and are a way of increasing efficiency.

The candidates also faced questions surrounding forestry use, handling of treaty-based relations, climate change and the future of the connection between Thunder Bay and the Fort William First Nation, even though it does not fall in the riding.

After the main question period concluded members of the audience had the opportunity to present questions.

This led to a run of inquiries about how each candidate planned to create solutions for affordable housing.

Foulds was strong once again, labelling the reality of homelessness in Canada as “shameful” to government and calling for strategic and innovative solutions to create more affordable housing.

Gravelle promised to champion the affordable housing issue if he is re-elected.

Johnson took a much harder line, saying plans to build a new event centre should be scrapped as long as social issues remain.

Parks admitted he does not have answers to directly combat poverty, instead arguing for the need to get a handle on rising costs. He acknowledged following the debate he has some catching up to do on social issues.


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opinions2014 says:
im a tax payer and will always be until the day i retire, so get over yourself. This free health care we have in Canada is way better then some poor under developed countries. I know there is major cut backs on this health care. I used "Free" because that is what called.
6/3/2014 3:16:19 PM
Wolfie says:
If you have a pension or RRSPs, or own property or purchase anything with HST on it, you're going to be a taxpayer even after you retire.

And the health care isn't free... you just pay for it indirectly.
6/3/2014 9:55:48 PM
gremlin says:

A very fair assessment. I was there as well & obviously it was a very "left wing" audience so I wasn't surprised by the cheering & applause of Leblanc, Foulds & Gravelle in that order. When you have an audience that is looking for hand-outs they're going to cheer for the "lefties".

I applaud Parks for his honest answers. Foulds was pathetic. As someone already mentioned he played to the emotions & was very dramatic. He would do well as an actor. As expected he talked about freezing tuition fees & interest free loans but never mentioned freezing pay for teachers/professors.


"free health care"? You don't THINK before you type. YOU are the exact problem & why this province is in the condition (financial) that it is.
6/3/2014 12:39:36 PM
opinions2014 says:
I feel that Johnson doesn't do proper research to back up her platform. She doesn't think before she speaks.She bashes other groups instead of coming up with great ideas to make better improvements. I'm a tax payer who doesnt like how SOME of the money is being spent, but DOING away with all taxes is a joke and a child like dream. She needs to get back to reality and realize where is the money going to come to cover schools, free health care and so many other programs. As for Gravelle, he has years of experience in politics and it shows. Too bad this wasnt really a debate.
6/3/2014 10:53:24 AM
jonthunder says:
Very difficult if not about impossible to have a debate with 5 candidates; even three is tough to moderate. It should have been the three parties with seats in the legislature.
6/3/2014 10:13:04 AM
Wolfie says:
How is any other party ever going to get a seat in the legislature if they are perpetually excluded from events such as this?

I understand your point about the moderation, but this could have been rectified by allowing the candidates to go at each other. They then could have decided themselves who was worth the trouble.
6/3/2014 1:08:07 PM
Wolfie says:
As for the debate itself… it was terrible. There was no back and forth between candidates due to the poor format, and everything seemed rushed. There was no allotment for closing remarks either. I realize that it is tough to balance the need to let in all candidates with the need to let everyone have a reasonable time, but I think more of a debate-style would have allowed the major candidates to focus on each other, challenge each other’s statements and flesh out their points. Like the article said, it was really a question and answer session more than a debate.
6/3/2014 9:14:38 AM
Wolfie says:
Foulds – I’m not going to lie… I was quite disappointed in his performance. As he has some experience I was expecting much better. Many of his answers were overly melodramatic… eye-rollingly so, and he didn’t seem to have a great grasp of the party platform. Sometimes he avoided the question, either intentionally, unintentionally, or by letting the clock run out. He was the best dressed and most presentable, but seemed mostly style with little substance. Given the similarity in their platforms, I think that LeBlanc would have made the NDP look much better on the night.

Parks – Impressed, to my eye. He was a good speaker, honest about the PC platform about cuts and not providing additional social funding, and didn’t try to sugarcoat it to placate the left-wing audience. Once or twice he was left shaken and speechless when a comment was shouted from the audience, so he could do with more practice dealing with that, but did fairly well overall.
6/3/2014 9:14:18 AM
Wolfie says:
Johnson – It’s one thing to stick to your guns and give your opinion/your party’s opinion despite it being unpopular in the room, but she could have at least filled her allotted time on the questions. Her party is virtually unknown, and this was a great opportunity for her to expand upon their ideas and principles and explain how people and society could benefit from them. Instead she gave very curt responses that gave me the impression that she didn’t really want to be there. In my opinion, the PCs dodged a real bullet.

Gravelle – Obviously the most experienced and polished politician in the room, and it showed. As the incumbent you’re always going to face the most questions and criticisms, but he handled it quite well. However, he did have a tendency to ramble and was the most frequent violator of the time allotment.
6/3/2014 9:13:44 AM
Wolfie says:
I was there, and here is my humble opinion as an unaffiliated and undecided voter. In left-to-right order of how they were seated, from the audience’s perspective:

Sloan – His party has some interesting ideas, but you could tell that their platform is not fully fleshed out and it seemed like he was making up some of his ideas as he went along. They’re nowhere near ready at this point, but it would be interesting if they could develop into a strong regional player and give some clout to this region, much like the Bloc Quebecois used to do in Ottawa.

LeBlanc – Came out of nowhere and was quite impressive in his speaking style and knowledge of his party’s platform. He was helped because the crowd in the room seemed quite left-wing, but he had thoughtful responses and tied in examples from his personal experiences quite well.
6/3/2014 9:12:48 AM
thatsright says:
Tamara rules? S Duncan, you must've been one of her three cheerleaders sitting in the front. This is how the rest of us saw it sitting behind you. Her voice was shaky, her responses short, inarticulate and carried no weight - she simply was out of her league. She inadvertently (I would hope anyway) said she would "hate to see any programs for youth" and announced she has a weak bladder. There was no applause for her, only crickets, snickers and booing. S Duncan, you won't be getting my vote in the City elections.

The Green Party's Joseph LeBlanc was the crowd-pleaser and spoke extremely well. He made it worthwhile.

Btw, OilSandsMan, the spaces you insist on putting in front of your terminal punctuation gives you away. Didn't someone request you stop doing that on FB? How could you have been at the debate and therefore offer an objectionable opinion on it when you are in the bush in Alberta like you say on FB?
6/3/2014 8:44:05 AM
GrapeSoda says:
This was not for my riding, and I wasn't very familiar with any of the candidates other then Mr.Gravelle but here is my brief take on each party.

PC - Not very well spoken and not many answers to the questions posed.
NDP - Well spoken, and passionate. Some decent responses, but played the emotion card a lot. Shameful this and shameful that...
Liberals - Very slick. Lots of answers, but none that seemed to really be much different. You could tell he is a political veteran.
Libertarians - Sad. Confusing. Surprisingly poorly spoken. Harped on the same issue for every topic.
Green - Stole the show in my opinion. Well informed and intelligent. Had a lot of great answers. I don't know if I could get behind the minimum annual income... but I was impressed none the less!
Heritage Party - Not very well informed on the questions posed. Not very charismatic.

I would have to say that I was pleased with this event. Although it seemed hard to get through questions clearly with 6 candidates.
6/3/2014 8:43:52 AM
GrapeSoda says:
I thought it was a great event! Although yes it wasn't a debate in the true sense of the word, it still did a good job of opening a dialogue, and gave people a chance to ask some great questions publicly. I want to commend all of the candidates for sticking it out well past the original ending time to make sure to address all of the audience questions.
6/3/2014 8:37:02 AM
musicferret says:
Sad to see that only 1 candidate was against the events centre. (Johnson of all people!)

Massive provincial/municipal debt, and yet here we are talking about spending $100m (plus overruns and yearly operational losses) on a hockey rink and facilities that will steal business from existing facilities around thunder bay. Awful idea.

When the 'affordable housing/poverty' question came up candidates should have jumped on the events centre as an example of whats wrong with society: we spend money frivolously on things we don't need while our community crumbles and large groups of people are barely getting by, living paycheque to paycheque. So sad.
6/3/2014 8:22:40 AM
Curious says:
An unknown jumps in to politics, has no political knowledge whatsoever but speaks what no one else is allowed to say - we want to vote them in.....are you kidding! Maybe you should get to know her before you are too quick to vote for them. I am not voting for a stranger that tells us what we want to hear but has no possibility of doing anything about it. I think Tamara is looking for a good paying job for once.
6/3/2014 7:49:27 AM
baywoman says:
I attended this debate, and truthfully it was difficult to watch Tamara Ward Johnson. She didn't have much to say but did urge people to read the Libertarian platform if they wanted to know about it..perhaps she should do the same! As mentioned in the article above, her answer with respect to education was perplexing..all she brought to the table was the Blame Game and disparaging comments towards other parties and brought up the fact that the PC's dumped her. She offered little in the way of solutions but we do know that the Libertarians favour doing away with taxation altogether . Such a pipe dream ..guess we can forget funding for schools, roads, hospitals, etc under this system! She came across as ill informed, ill prepared and unprofessional. She received little applause.I am sure that there will be those commenting here who will say that's because of the kind of people in the audience..and that is correct! It was full of people who ARE informed! No one wants to listen to whining.
6/3/2014 7:41:48 AM
CLETE says:
Tim Who Dat is the real fool of the lot. When you cut jobs you affect alot of other ones. Tim couldn't even show his face in town last week. Don't be fooled by the conservatives tax cuts only help the rich period...
6/3/2014 7:28:18 AM
gsp says:
Re/ Foulds comment on tuition and middle class families....

Maybe if "middle class" families lived within their means and didn't overextend themselves with $400K Parkdale and Mount Forest Homes, matched with 3 yr or newer vehicles, etc, and started investing in RESP's for their children from a young age, they wouldn't be "Crippled" with the costs of post-secondary education.
6/3/2014 6:41:33 AM
lori says:
how can you possibly have a debate with 6 people at the table. Hey, I am from the unicorn party, can I attend the debate too.

If you have a seat at Queen's Park, be part of it, otherwise it becomes a circus show like this appears to have become.

As for tuition, I would like to ask Mr. Foulds if 30% off tuition is a bit better than interest free loans.

Anyhow, I didn't see it but that's okay. Our resident TBnewswatch expert on everything S. Duncan did so he told us who won. But then fastball said she was bad. So hard to know who is correct--sarcasm. Maybe the beaver could break the tie and tell who won.

6/3/2014 12:05:57 AM
tbay87 says:
"If you have a seat at Queen's Park, be part of it," -> Well, I'll give you that Gravelle debating himself would be kind of entertaining
6/3/2014 3:22:54 AM
S Duncan says:
one thing for sure, all grovelle did was repeat nonsense and promise more vote buying, increased debt, and take no accountability for the past, continued and future failures of this 10 year liberal government that has bankrupted this province.

Foulds wants more of the same, but then again we know all he's capable of is tax and spend policy going by his track record in municipal government.

Libertarian is much closer to true conservatism than Derek Parks obviously is because a policy of supporting wasteful financial burdens is not conservative at all, its actually typical NDP garbage.

Its ok that you weren't there lori, you would just tell us that gravolle walks on water and passes out billions of dollars to those who are there to watch it happen. Debates are for people with open minds and can objectively listen to the answers that are given.

you were welcome to come, but you would have just wasted a good chair.

I was actually impressed more by "fringe" candidates than any others.
6/3/2014 8:46:41 AM
OilSandsMan says:
Yup. Tamara does rule ! She is well spoken and says it like it is ! You can tell that the rest of the candidates are scared to say anything ! Tamara for MPP !
6/2/2014 11:38:07 PM
tsb says:
Bobbly Head for MPP!

(Now watch everyone try to figure out who I am thinking about with this comment.)
6/2/2014 11:34:55 PM
fastball says:
Sorry, Tamara - you're just showing more and more of your true colours every time you open your mouth. That's a bad analogy by the way - because stupid and unimaginative has no colour, if you think about it.
If the best thing you can do is slag another administration when asked what YOU would do - yet offer no concrete solutions (or even an opinion)...that speaks volumes about the amount of thought you've put into your platform.
And to say that we should stop an event centre, as long "as social issues remain"...well, that's just a little too out-there for me.
6/2/2014 11:16:49 PM
S Duncan says:
its ok fastball, we know you are a one trick mare. you will hand over your vote to anybody who will give you a welfare dome. you do not care about the needs of the millions of people of Ontario, only your selfish, personal desires. we know you become distraught when issues that make too much sense, or don't add up the way you like them are put front and centre.

that's the liberal way. always cowering, hiding, begging, and playing the victim.
6/3/2014 8:50:37 AM
fastball says:
I've reviewed my post, and I'm really sure that I never stated my personal preference in this election. Nor did I once mention the socialist hockey dome.
Nor I didn't mention anything about conservatives usually being former liberals who finally have gotten onto their feet. Everyone who's starting out in life take advantage of a bit of government assistance just to get them going. But after a few years, they now feel like they can tell every one of those liberal leeches to pull up their bootstraps - just like you did.
The fact that you immediately have to resort to name-calling and insulting is...well, childlike. But at some point, children grow up and get over it. So grow up and accept that not everyone shares the same small, narrow mindset that you apparently do.
6/3/2014 1:10:48 PM
S Duncan says:
If you don't like the title you earn, then don't try so hard to get it. Seems simple enough to me??
6/3/2014 4:46:54 PM
fastball says:
Not sure what you're saying or where you're going with that comment - but it look like almost 200 people agree with my initial point.
Wow...almost 200. I mean, even on the days when you sit there and constantly refresh the screen and click "agree", you never got close to two hundred.
6/3/2014 8:04:34 PM
Jeannied says:
He/she did, it was just under a previous major "identity" lol
Seems they think no one can tell.
6/4/2014 10:58:23 AM
S Duncan says:
Tamara made the others look like punks. All they do is parrot the same mistakes over and over again, scared to make a stand, or take a position that actually might accomplish something.

Foulds is an embarrassment, and Gravelle is a member of a party with 10 years at the stick and what have they done?

Parks was poorer than expected with his support the welfare dome nonsense. Luckily we know the party would never cough up that stupid money.. right?

At least Hudak will hold the libs accountable, while the ndp will only continue supporting them.

As it is, the ndp and libs will try to form a coalition because that's exactly what they had anyway. The only reason Andrea bailed on the budget was to dissolve the government and stop the gas plant probes allowing Wynne to skate for now.

Ndp or libs? you get a coalition that will continue to bankrupt this province. PC, our best hopes for Ontario.

Locally? Tamara rules and it showed. The others were embarrassing themselves.
6/2/2014 11:16:48 PM
S Duncan says:
the sad thing is now the OPP union came out of the closet today to bash the PC party and Hudak.

First off, the OPP are supposed to be objectively investigating the liberals and their gas plant scandals and tampering/deletion of taxpayer owned information, now they openly support the liberals?

Yeah! no conflict of interests there huh? This is the danger of public service unions getting political. They want to support whomever will give them raises with our money.

The PCs are the only ones willing to stop this and if we don't stop this soon we are in big trouble.

the PCs will win Ontario because theres still lots of smart useful people here, they haven't all turned into welfare seeking, easily bought voters like we are in Thunder Bay, but lets hope its enough to get things straightened out.

Tamara made the others look like they were reading the ingredients off their cereal boxes, and that recipe wont work any longer in Ont.

Go Tamara!
6/2/2014 11:48:57 PM
Stucky says:
This is a joke. Johnson was amateur at BEST. She showed no confidence, seemed out of place and out of her league, and gave vague, misinformed answers to the questions. People cheered to disagree with her inane views.

She is hardly what people want.

I find it funny your posts get so many "likes" here when there are no libertarian signs around town.
6/3/2014 1:00:23 AM
Back-in-the-bay says:
Tamara confirmed what any normal human person who actually knows her, knows: she is a grossly misinformed and narrow viewed person. Her comments are rooted in fiction and feeling rather than fact and actuality. She's literally appealing to all the most closed minded, culturally biased people in the region. Her tantrum like posts about anyone who she perceives as different minded than her are unbecoming anyone who seeks to serve the public best interest. I'm no big pc fan, but wow, did they realize the risk just in time! She's allowed herself to be aligned with the libertarians in a naive and desperate attempt to keep the spotlight on just a little longer. It's laughable how her, nor any of her friend/supported have a clue what the underlying party message is of the libertarians. It's all a little 'laugh to keep from crying' really.
6/3/2014 7:25:13 AM
localguy says:
Did you see the same debate that I did? You have obviously have been 'punked' and joined the Tamara fan club. She was the worst of the bunch - unless you prefer bottom feeders.

6/3/2014 9:02:50 AM
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