Voters in all three local provincial ridings can listen to their candidates debate the issues May 17.
The Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce and Windsor and District Labour Council are joining to host what is expected to be the main local debate of the campaign. Moderated by the Windsor Star’s Craig Pearson, the debate will be broadcast live by Cogeco.
There will actually be three debates, one for each riding. Candidates will be asked six questions and have half an hour to debate them.
The questions will come from chamber and labour council members and the community. The chamber has sent out a survey asking people whether they think the government is headed in the right direction, which party they would vote for if the election was today, how likely they are to change their minds, what the government’s top two priorities should be and what they want to ask candidates.
“We’re going to leave the questions up to the community,” said chamber CEO Matt Marchand
The high cost of electricity, one of the hottest issues in the province, is expected to be one of the subjects. In the latest in a long saga, the chief of staff to former Liberal premier Dalton McGuinty was sentenced last week to four months in jail. He was convicted of ordering computer servers in the premier’s office wiped, allegedly to destroy emails on the costly cancellation of two gas-fired power plants following opposition to them before the 2011 election.
The government has defended rising energy costs as necessary to rebuild the electricity system and close dirty, coal-fired power plants. But reports by auditor general Bonnie Lysyk conclude the government has cost Ontarians tens of billions of dollars by repeatedly mismanaging energy.
Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford vowed Thursday he will fire the CEO of Hydro One and the utility’s board of directors if he becomes premier. Ford called CEO Mayo Schmidt, who made $6.2 million last year, and top hydro executives elites. But the party later admitted the government can’t unilaterally fire Schmidt. It sold more than half of Hydro One, leaving the government a 47 percent stake.
Jobs — and the lack of skilled workers to fill them — are expected to be another issue.
So is health care. Premier Kathleen Wynne has announced $2.1 billion more for mental health and free prescription drugs for people aged 65 and older. The government began offering free prescription drugs to those aged 24 and younger last year.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has promised free universal pharmacare.
The PCs and the NDP have nominated candidates in all three ridings here. The Liberals have nominated candidates in only two, Windsor West and Windsor-Tecumseh. Two people are considering running for the Liberals in Essex, said Jessica Sartori, party vice-president in Southwestern Ontario. But it’s not known when a candidate will be nominated.