All-candidate forum has some candidates

·2 min read

Voters got a chance to hear from the candidates for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex in Strathroy May 16th - or about half of them, anyway.

The Green Party’s Wanda Dickey had London West candidate Colleen McCauley fill in. That was better representation than from absent candidates Liberal Bruce Baker and Ontario Party’s Aaron Istvan. The potential MPPs who were at the forum hosted by the Strathroy & District Chamber of Commerce at the Portuguese Canadian Club spent an hour-and-a-half tackling topics ranging from housing, inflation, and labour shortages, to health care vaccine requirements, long-term elderly care, and climate change.

While the NDP’s Vanessa Benoit and None of the Above’s Dean Eve challenged some positions of incumbent PC candidate and Ontario Labour Minister Monte McNaughton, it was conservative alternative David Barnwell of the farther right New Blue party who zeroed in on topics he thought could differentiate him.

Windmills were on the hit list for Barnwell, who repeatedly pointed out issues like how to recycle them and his not completely unfounded though not proved to be always relevant belief that vibrations from pile-driving the giant structures into the ground causes water pollution.

He and McNaughton agreed on building more nuclear plants to combat climate change. Benoit preferred focusing on other renewables and using a cap and trade system to encourage quitting fossil fuels and reaching net zero emissions by 2050.

But it was the re-hiring of health facility workers let go for not adhering to Covid vaccine requirements during a pandemic that really stirred Barnwell’s passion. He wants them all back, calling the vaccination requirement discriminatory. He also sees a solution to the labour shortage in making vaccine requirements illegal publicly and privately.

“Upwards of 1,100 health care workers were fired from the health care system in the middle of a pandemic, which is a very irresponsible thing to do given how burdened our health care system was at the time and continues to be,” said Barnwell.

Benoit said the NDP would keep the vaccine requirement in health care facilities. When asked after the forum, McNaughton said there is no PC policy on it, and is leaving it to health authorities to negotiate with workers.

Chris Gareau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Middlesex Banner

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