While Simcoe North MP Candidates State Contentious Views, Several “Common-ground” Issues Remain in Exile

Simcoe North Federal MP candidates met with the public Sept. 26th at St. Paul's United Church Centre, Orillia, ON. With incumbent Conservative MP Bruce Stanton absent, the candidates at the forum, left to right, were: Angelique Belcourt, NDP; Stephen Makk, Peoples Party of Canada; Valarie Powell, Green Party; Mike Brown, Christian Heritage Party; and Gerry Hawes, Liberal Party. (AWN Photo)

Another candidate forum slated for Oct. 3 at Orillia City Council chambers

On the Scene News Analysis / Commentary

By John Devine and M. Samuel Anderson
[Note: AWN does not endorse candidates or parties]

ORILLIA, ONTARIO Sept. 26, 2019—While incumbent Simcoe North MP Bruce Stanton was conspicuously absent at the first forum held in Orillia in advance of the Oct. 21 federal election, five other candidates seeking this riding’s seat in parliament gave their perspectives on several issues at St. Paul’s Church Centre the evening of Sept. 26.

Organized by Orillia for Democracy, the forum featured the following candidates: Angelique Belcourt (New Democratic Party), Chris Brown (Christian Heritage Party), Gerry Hawes (Liberal), Stephen Makk (People’s Party of Canada) and Valerie Powell (Green).

Notably, on Thursday, Oct. 3 in the Orillia City Council chambers at 6:30 p.m., voters will get another chance to hear from and meet the candidates, presumably including Stanton.

But major issues, some of which transcend the Sept. 26 forum, are ripe for robust discussion. Read on below.

BIG INFORMATION GAP EXISTS

Although issues ranging from climate change, to abortion, affordable housing, health care, free speech and education were raised at the Sept. 26 forum, Awakening News (AWN)is aware of a gaping information gap that needs to be filled so the voters can have a more in-depth appraisal of these and other issues and therefore be better equipped to make wise choices when voting for candidates. AWN is keenly aware of this gap from our media outlet’s unique history of tackling fresh angles on environmental issues, monitoring the status of free speech and revealing the downside of widespread casino gambling, among other pivotal issues that mainline media will rarely touch.

Notably, regarding affordable housing, candidate Brown was the only one at the Sept. 26 forum who  pointed out that “money laundering and foreign speculators” are driving up housing prices.

AWN has determined in its research and reports going back 2-3 years—including firsthand observation in Ontario casinos—that organized crime elements which appear to have Russian ties are laundering money via casinos. And as British Columbia’s authorities have determined, as reported in AWN and Global News, Asian-based money laundering has had a measurable effect on housing costs in that Western province, among other ill effects.

But while Global News has reported on the money laundering racket hitting B.C. hard economically, the Canadian mainline media has largely ignored money laundering in Ontario—the most populous of the provinces—even while AWN has been calling attention to this “news gap” on this and other key issues for years.

Those other key issues, which the mainline media has an uncanny habit of overlooking, include:

  • The abuse of casino employees (workplace hazards, verbal and sexual assaults in the workplace, and numerous hidden aspects of gambling addiction);
  • The theft of intellectual property (e.g., the arbitrary shutting down of a viable, job-creating, local fish hatchery business formerly run by an AWN editor, a hatchery using technology that would save multi-million gallons of groundwater each year while cutting pollution discharge);
  • And the inaction of the mainline media and the government to call attention to and correct such matters when AWN has laboured to bring such issues out of the “information deep-freeze” that grips Canada and denies the public the knowledge they need to preserve and improve the democratic process.

[EDITOR’S NOTEClick on this “20 Years of Obstruction” link for a special posting on this website that explains in considerable detail the long-term efforts AWN has undertaken to expose issues that are not widely known due to negligence and stonewalling by big media and government authorities. In particular, see the part about MPP Jim Wilson’s key letter sent to former Ontarian Premier Kathleen Wynne, a letter that’s been buried without no response from her and new Premier Ford]

MORE ON HOUSING

At any rate, when the other candidates at the Sept. 26 forum were asked about housing, Makk remarked that Simcoe County’s housing is a “bargain” compared to housing’s status in other areas. Powell shot back that that’s true—if people can stomach living in a place with mold or “in basement apartments with no light.”

“It’s no wonder my Conservative opponent [Stanton] is too afraid to be here tonight to address this question,” Hawes chimed in, while adding that conservatives failed to address affordable housing after nearly 10 years in office. Meanwhile, Belcourt said the NDP would support a national housing strategy, while assisting current homeowners with upgrades that are “mindful” of climate change.

HOW ABOUT A NATIONAL GARBAGE POLICY, TOO?

Belcourt’s call for a national housing strategy sounds worthy of further exploration, even while Canada lacks but clearly needs something the candidates did not address—a national garbage policy.

Lest we forget, there were shocking recent reports that the Philippines returned tons of garbage to Canada (from whence it came), even while Malaysia also has been revealed as another distant destination for mega-heaps of garbage from Canada.

And that issue, in turn, affects another environmental issue that too often is “out of sight, out of mind”—groundwater preservation.

Building or expanding landfills runs the distinct risk of affecting the groundwater underneath them, with an example being Orillia’s own city dump that was established, of all places, along the shores of Lake Simcoe, a body of water that extends farther inland underground that does the surface water.

CLIMATE CHANGE HOT TOPIC

Also at the forum, climate change (a.k.a. global warming) was a hot topic. When Brown responded to a question about how to address that issue—saying the climate has “always been changing” and that some scientists believe the human contribution to climate change has been overstated—Powell put her head on the table and kept it there throughout Brown’s remarks. Meanwhile, some among the audience of about 200 people exclaimed “liar” and other epithets at Brown.

The Greens say they have a 20-step “climate action plan” that would bring all parties to the table for a solution to what the Greens see as a climate emergency, Powell noted.

Makk added that the People’s Party would invest in needed infrastructure while keeping climatic factors in mind, while saying that “alarmism, hysteria and panic” are not how “mature citizens” should address the issue. He added it is “highly unlikely” the effects of climate change are as dire as some say. And Belcourt said the NDP would eliminate all subsidies to fossil-fuel industries “on the first day in office.”

All that being said, AWN’s own long-term research and reporting on such matters suggests that if we adopt a national garbage policy (to create less waste in the first place during production), if we protect our groundwater from the predatory pricing afforded to Nestle (which gets Ontarian groundwater for $3.71 per million liters or cheaper), if we retool our fish hatcheries to institute water-recycling systems (to cut heavy groundwater usage by up to 90%, cleanup the waste discharge, and re-balance the imbalanced bait-fish and game-fish ratios) and if we continue to save our pollinator populations (certain birds, bees, butterflies), we can find lots of common environmental ground regardless of party affiliation and fix a lot of problems.

While keeping in mind that excessive atmospheric emissions of various chemical compounds happen when we produce too many throw-away products in cheap packaging that end up in our landfills, we can develop more mutual respect and trust and reduce the divisiveness that drives the political process by addressing the above-listed issues.

If humanity’s  actions are in some way altering the climate, that can be taken care of in the process of working together on tangible matters that can make an immediate, measurable difference—matters on which we can all agree most of the time.

At the forum, Hawes, representing the governing Liberals, also praised the carbon tax as well as investments in renewable energy and public transit.

Once again, he revealed an opening for common ground, since reasonable degrees of renewable energy, when done correctly and carefully to ensure the best return on money invested, is a good idea regardless of one’s views on climate change.

The same goes for public transit. The U.S. as well as Canada need only look to the UK and Europe to see that inexpensive, energy-efficient trains can replace a lot of cars (and their smog and traffic jams) on our already-stressed and pot-holed highways and byways—something that should concern younger adults who sometimes find cars and car insurance unduly expensive when already saddled with other cost factors (heavy college loans, children, housing etc.). Notably, candidate Brown would like to remove interest payments from student loans—something all the candidates might be able to agree upon.

HEALTH CARE, SOCIAL ISSUES NOTED

When the candidates were asked about supporting a national health-care system with full coverage for all Canadians, Hawes criticized Ontario Premier Doug Ford for his Progressive Conservative party’s “regressive” policies, including dismantling the Local Health Integration Networks. While Hawes said his party supports a universal pharmacare plan, Brown’s party would end tax funding for abortion and gender-reassignment-surgery, procedures he described as “elective.”

Belcourt said the NDP would expand health care to include extended benefits and pharmacare. And Makk, much like Brown, said he was satisfied with the current system concerning provincial and territorial responsibility for health care. However, Makk added his party would “change or repeal the Canada Health Act” and permit more private-sector options for citizens. The Greens are “committed to the principles of the Canada Health Act,” Powell stated. The Greens also would implement a suicide-prevention strategy and provide low-income citizens with free dental care.