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Four candidates square off in lively debate

Fedeli, Vrebosch, Lougheed, and McClocklin went toe-to-toe
2022 05 15 community debate
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Four of the eight provincial candidates in the riding of Nipissing squared off during a lively two-hour debate hosted by YourTV North Bay inside their broadcast studio. Tanya Vrebosch, from the Liberals, Erika Lougheed, with the NDP, Sean McClocklin with the Green Party, and Vic Fedeli, the Conservative incumbent, took questions from moderator and Greg Estabrooks.  Green Party Sean McClocklin came out swinging in his opening statements taking a jab at incumbent Vic Fedeli for not attending the Pride debate that took place last Friday.  

"Vic it's nice to see you here in your first public appearance of this election," said the young Green Party candidate. 

"I saw the proxy that was sent to the Pride debate last week and I should have paid him $500 to say something but in all seriousness, thank you for showing up, I look forward to reviewing your public record tonight." 

The debate heated up during the topic of mental health funding when Fedeli spoke about more than 50 mental health and addiction beds created through provincial funding but Vrebosch retorted that the Mayor's roundtable and LHIN study advised the province that is not what they needed. 

"What do we have, what do we need, and what do we have too much of, and I went through my notes and recalled that is not what we needed. So what we were given was something that the community said we did not need at this time," she noted. 

Fedeli, who was quick to defend himself on numerous occasions during the two-hour event, disagreed. "I"m pretty sure if you ask the North Bay Regional Health Centre they would tell you a resounding yes," said Fedeli in response. During the concern about homelessness in the riding, McClocklin says his party will make it a priority to build affordable housing, many with what McClocklin calls "wraparound mental health services."Lougheed noted that she has spent time with those who are living "rough" in North Bay while also spending weekends picking up needles or checking on people who are homeless.  "The problem has only got worse, significantly worse and very little has been done to address it," said Lougheed

"There is a very slow take on the Conservative government to address this problem and to help people when they need it. People are literally dying on the streets of North Bay right now."

Lougheed criticized Fedeli asking why his government has left so many people behind.     Fedeli retorted that they have 100 units set to open this year to help with the homeless crisis in the city. "There is always more we can do but we have a $3 billion allotment for affordable housing and homelessness in the province," said FedeliLougheed also questioned Fedeli and the Conservatives' green initiatives since 2018 calling it "the anti-environment crusade.""We are the only party supporting the electric vehicle manufacturing in Ontario," exclaimed Fedeli.On the topic of education, Fedeli was under attack from Lougheed and Vrebosch - both mothers who had children learning remotely during COVID-19 lockdowns - about how schools and education were handled by the Conservatives through the pandemic.    "We are not in favour of hybrid learning and we believe students need to be in the classroom with their educations so they have health development and have support," said Lougheed, who was very well-spoken and confident throughout the debate. Fedeli was emotionally charged when defending the decisions his party followed regarding schools from the Chief Medical Officer of Health.  "If you don't take his advice then God help you if things go wrong," stated Fedeli bluntly towards Lougheed

"You take his advice at every single turn. His advice was when to open and when to close and that is what we took and we will stand by that all day long, every day." 

Vrebosch criticized the Fedeli for the lack of test kits for her own family during the pandemic. "These kits were not readily available," said Vrebosch. As the event winded down all three parties did give credit to Fedeli for his efforts in funding the thriving film industry in the North Bay area.  Vrebosch and McClocklin stated their parties would continue to support any funding for the film industry. Lougheed gave some credit to Fedeli but gave more praise for the efforts of municipalities within the region for making the film industry boom in the region happen.   The other four candidates were given the opportunity to send in a video statement as part of the debate. Only Libertarian candidate, Michael Lashbrook sent in a video that aired in the first half of the debate. Lashbrook in her short video says the government needs to be kept in check by the people and urges support for freedom of choice. Joe Jobin, Ontario Party,  Taylor Russell, New Blue Party of Ontario, and Giacomo Vezina, from the None of the Above Direct Democracy Party were not offered the opportunity to appear in the debate, but instead to send in videos and declined.