On Thursday, May 26th, provincial candidates from the Temiskaming-Cochrane riding will meet for an hour and a half-debate, hosted by the West Nipissing Chamber of Commerce. The action occurs at the Marcel Noel Hall at 219 O’Hara Street in Sturgeon Falls. Admission is free, and the event begins at 7 p.m.
Zack Lafleur, the Chamber’s executive director, has been working hard putting the debate together. Getting seven candidates in the same room can be a difficult task during campaign time, but five parties will be represented on the big night.
Liberal candidate Brian Johnson will be a no show—Lafleur mentioned that at this point, Johnson’s office hasn’t responded to the invitation. Progressive Conservative Bill Foy will also be absent. He was free to debate earlier in the day, he mentioned to Lafleur, but everyone else preferred the evening, so the seven o’clock start time remained and the Conservative candidate was out.
But a healthy roster remains, with five candidates primed to debate. New Democratic Party MPP John Vanthof will be there. In the 2018 election, 27,461 voted in the riding. Vanthof received 16,806 of those, just over 61 per cent of the votes cast. He has represented the riding since 2011.
Eric Cummings from the Libertarian Party, and Garry Andrade from the New Blue Party will be there as well. As will Jeff Wilkinson, the candidate for the None of the Above Party, and Green Party candidate Kris Rivard.
Manon Arcand, who sits on the Chamber’s board, will moderate the event. Lafleur is planning to record the debate to post after the event, but at this time is working out the details as to whether that will be possible or not. If so, he will let people know through the Chamber’s social media channels and website.
“We have a very large riding,” he explained, “and I’d like people to have access to the debate,” so plans continue to either have a live stream of the event, or a recording to post later.
People are welcome to submit questions to the candidates either by email to the chamber at email@example.com or by submitting a written question when you come to the debate. Lafleur mentioned the plan is to have mostly “hard hitting” questions that cut to the core of party policy, and since it’s a chamber event, a lot of these questions will revolve around “issues that are really affecting business” within the area.
David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.