Tbnewswatch Local News
Tuesday June 30 2015
12:48 PM EDT
2014-06-05 at 22:07

Debate heats up

Local candidates square off in a debate Thursday co-hosted by the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce and the SHIFT Young Professionals
Matt Vis, tbnewswatch.com
Local candidates square off in a debate Thursday co-hosted by the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce and the SHIFT Young Professionals' Network at Fort William Historical Park.
By Matt Vis, tbnewswatch.com

THUNDER BAY -- Tensions are starting to rise on the campaign trail as the Ontario election is one week away.

Local candidates representing the three parties represented in the last provincial legislature squared off in a forum co-hosted by the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce and the SHIFT Young Professionals’ Network at Fort William Historical Park on Thursday evening.

Most of the heat was generated by the two combatants in the Thunder Bay-Atikokan riding, incumbent Liberal candidate Bill Mauro and Progressive Conservative candidate Harold Wilson.

New Democrat candidate Mary Kozorys was unable to attend for personal reasons.

Wilson looked to put Mauro on the ropes throughout the entire debate but the challenger saved his strongest arguments for last, taking issue with the “laundry list” of accomplishments his opponent was going to cite.

“You cannot just go through that list without looking at the partners that made these things happen or the fact is that it is not one individual who does it,” Wilson said emphatically during his closing statement.

“You cannot take credit for everything and responsibility for nothing. That’s not really what the job of an MPP is.”

Mauro followed with his own closing statement, a feisty rebuke that highlighted a list of accomplishments during his career as a provincial legislator.

He argued his track record of more than 10 years at Queen’s Park shows substantial gains for his riding, including the creation of the Thunder Bay Regional Research Institute and the faculty of law at Lakehead University.

“I would say if you step back and take an objective view at where this community was in 2003 and an objective view of where this community is in 2014, I can’t help but think you could possibly come to the conclusion, no matter your political affiliation, that this community is far better off than it was in 2003,” Mauro said.

“Being in government is much more difficult than being a member in opposition…It’s a holiday when you’re in opposition but you have to do the real work and deliver for your community when you’re in government.”

The two went head-to-head on the local Bombardier plant.

Wilson accused Mauro of “turtling” to then-Premier Dalton McGuinty when it came to his attempts to increase local content regulations that would have resulted in more jobs for the local plant.

Mauro responded by pointing out Liberal investments created more than 1,000 new jobs saving the plant, which was potentially endangered in 2003 due to a lack of public transit funding from the previous PC government.

For the most part, the debate was much more subdued among the three candidates in the Thunder Bay-Superior North riding.

The Ring of Fire was the main point of contention between those candidates, with both NDP candidate Andrew Foulds and PC candidate Derek Parks taking turns grilling incumbent Liberal candidate Michael Gravelle.

Foulds took issue with the slow and drawn out timeframe of the project, in particular with the timing of the Liberals announcing a $1 billion commitment to develop infrastructure in the Ring of Fire.

It’s an example of the Liberals turning a lucrative opportunity into a political toy, he argued.

“The reality is if this current government was serious about mining development these kinds of things would have happened years ago. If they were serious they would have done it before Cliffs pulled out,” Foulds said.

“If they were serious they would have made announcements long ago, not a week before a potential election and they wouldn’t have changed the announcement during the election.”

Parks accused government intervention of “hijacking” progress with the project.

The PC candidate took direct aim at the government for their responsibility in Cliffs Natural Resources abandoning their work on the development.

“The comments I hear back from industry about what has gone on in the province are horrible. (Cliffs) pulled out, they felt they were held hostage and thought we can’t deal here,” Parks said. “There are people that have left the industry and the company who feel it will be 10 years before this is up and running.”

In response, Gravelle insisted the Regional Framework Agreement with the Matawa First Nations was a necessary, vital step forward that had to happen before any other work could be taken.

The former Minister of Northern Development and Mines said the 5,500 jobs and the billions of dollars it is projected to create the will touch the entire region.

“I don’t think there is one community in Northwestern Ontario that won’t be receiving significant benefit from the Ring of Fire project when it does get going,” Gravelle said.

Candidates also faced questions regarding ensuring there is an affordable, adequate electricity supply for current and future needs, managing policing costs for municipalities under 5,000 people, duty of government to consult with northern stakeholders on new legislation as well as keeping industry in the region and ensuring benefits for municipalities and First Nations.

The final day for advance polls is Friday and the general election will be held on June 12.

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Just Sayin' says:
Of course things are different since 2003...We are a lot more in debt and my hard earned tax dollars paid for it - Not Mauro. The thing that bothers me the most is that he takes credit for my tax dollars as if they are his own money. TBRRI has so far created zero private sector jobs and the law school is propped up by additional Government money for operating costs leading us further into debt. I like Gravelle but have to admit, the project would move much quicker if he wasn't involved at all. Sometimes getting in the middle to try and make everyone happy just ends up with no benefit. The vast majority of economic activity from project will go to Sudbury, Toronto who funds it, and Newfoundland where the workers will come from not Thunder Bay. Plus do you want to work somewhere spending weeks away from your family at a time?
6/6/2014 3:19:03 PM
The Beaver..... says:
To suggest that Cliffs walked away from the Ring of Fire is only partly true. Here is a Company that has fallen
a) because it was grossly mismanaged
B) because the window of opportunity was slammed shut by the political bickering.
In December of 2012 Cliffs was trading at or above $42.00 yesterday it was trading at $14.80
6/6/2014 8:30:53 AM
j_northey says:
So, with just the Liberal and PC candidates for Thunder Bay-Atikokan you got some entertainment but little content from the sounds of it. Nothing about how, if elected, I'd push for lower payroll taxes rather than tax cuts that benefit mainly the largest most profitable companies. Nothing about joining our grid to Manitoba & Quebec thus saving over $10 billion (and possibly $25+ billion) by avoiding more nuclear plants being built. Nothing about saving up to $1.6 billion by merging the two public school systems (one exclusive to one religion). Nothing about charging more than bargain basement rates (ours are lowest in Canada) for water/resource extraction potentially raising another $1.5 billion a year without hitting taxpayers (the difference on 1 litre of bottled water would be 1% of 1 cent).

Yeah, the Chamber of Commerce let people hear the same old, same old from the same old parties. But those who want change didn't get to hear anything.
6/6/2014 12:15:16 AM
DougMyers says:
Nuclear plants are only needed in Southern Ontario.

Please explain how connecting our grid to Manitoba would help that? We already have cheap electricity here in Northwestern Ontario with Hydro power. We are, however, overcharged to help supplement southern Ontario.

There in lies the true issue.
6/6/2014 10:58:26 AM
j_northey says:
Right now the Liberals are working on joining us to the Southern Ontario grid at a multi-billion dollar cost to help justify more nuclear reactors. The PC's love this as they are on record wanting more nuclear power. Joining up with Manitoba would let us import water power to use for the Ring of Fire and other development as needed.

As to the crazy costs down there that affect our rates I propose splitting Hydro One in half - a Northern half and a Southern half. Ours has no nuclear and no gas plant scandal to deal with. Done fairly it would significantly drop our rates and let us compete with Manitoba and Quebec and the USA for jobs. If you want that to happen, then I am your only choice as the others won't even mention the idea.
6/6/2014 3:23:41 PM
OilSandsMan says:
Missing over half the candidates for both ridings. This isn't a debate....it's an insult to the intelligence of citizens ! June 7th is the 70th anniversary of D-day ! Our veterans would be disgusted at what biased democracy we have. They made sacrifices so we could be free and democratic. And this is how we serve their memory ? SHAME
6/5/2014 11:31:23 PM
DougMyers says:
They may also dislike that fact that you do not know the date.

D-day and celebrations for it are June 6
6/6/2014 10:54:15 AM
Rubenicky says:
I am a veteran. My father and gramps were too. I am not disgusted and don't think we have a biased democracy. I am however disgusted with the Harper govt and the way veterans have been treated.
I also find it disgusting that some candidates have been voicing views most of us would find offensive, however free speech is alive and well in Canada. I just prefer to listen to candidates who offer solutions and positivity rather than derision.
Also, learn when D-Day is actually commemorated.
6/6/2014 2:15:03 PM
tudor says:
This story made me pause. Mr. Wilson is the PC candidate. A free market party whose leader is so far right he has almost completed a full circle. Is Mr. Wilson really complaining that the government has not been protectionist enough? I must confess I am surprised that any PC candidate would take that position.

The PC party, and Mr. Hudak are not interventionists. They believe in free enterprise. Mr. Hudak has been quoted as saying government should not pick winners and losers. To have Mr. Wilson speak in this fashion is quite astonishing. I for one would love to hear Mr. Hudak's comments because I cannot imagine that Mr. Hudak ever supported those efforts by Mr. Mauro.

As for the NDP candidate. No where to be found for an event that was likely scheduled weeks ago. I would have to assume that it would be her poor performance in a debate that was the concern given her poor performance on the tv debate I watched. She says next to nothing. Quite amusing.

Anyhow, call into Mr. Hudak TBT?
6/5/2014 10:32:18 PM
Rubenicky says:
Kozorys was only absent because her elderly father was rushed to emergency.
Nice to see grown ups giving the benefit of the doubt.

6/6/2014 2:05:47 PM
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