By Jenn Watt
While most of us saw the month of August as a time to catch some sun and relax candidates running for federal government have been busy knocking on doors and meeting voters.
The four candidates in Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock say they’ve been engaging with the public and learning much about what their concerns are for the country and the riding.
Conservative candidate Jamie Schmale said the No. 1 concern he’s hearing from voters is the economy. Close second is the cost of hydro which falls under the provincial government’s jurisdiction but Schmale believes it points to the financial pressure people are feeling.
To that end he tells people the Conservatives see low business and personal income taxes as ways to stimulate the economy and allow Canadians to keep more of the money they make.
“Our difference is we’re giving money back to the people who earned it because we believe that they know how to spend it better than governments do” he says.
Schmale points to several Conservative programs and promises as examples including income splitting increasing the limits on the tax-free savings accounts a tax credit for kids’ sports and the decrease in GST.
While the riding of Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock has been represented primarily by Conservatives both federally and provincially for years Schmale says nothing is guaranteed.
“We’re taking nothing for granted and we’re trying to work hard and get our message out” he said. He has been travelling the riding attending events and meeting people and plans to continue to do so right up to the election.
In Haliburton he will be holding an informal “coffee with the candidate” at the Kosy Korner Sept. 10 at 10 a.m.
Schmale says he is the youngest candidate in this riding at age 39 but argues after working for former MP Barry Devolin for years he has the most federal government experience and brings energy and new ideas to the table .
NDP candidate Mike Perry said he had been “very encouraged by the response” he’s received over the last six months. Perry has been meeting with area residents for most of the year getting his name out organizing community meetings and knocking on doors.
“I was raised with [the motto] if you want it you’ve got to work for it and there are so many doors in this big riding” he said.
He says residents have been expressing interest in issues that are typically the NDP’s domain: social issues. “At the door I’m hearing about things like the environment like good jobs like looking after our seniors. These are NDP issues. I’m not hearing about lowering taxes and cutting spending as the only way to move forward.”
Perry said he was pleased by party leader Thomas Mulcair’s announcement that should his party be elected they would focus on tourism something from which the Haliburton region could benefit.
The NDP’s pledge to put money into making sports for kids more affordable was another exciting announcement for Perry who said it highlighted the difference in approach between the NDP and the Conservatives.
“The past approach providing tax credits only helps those who are able to claim a good taxable income. People have asked me first-hand right here in Haliburton too about doing something more than tax credits so the upfront cost is less” he said. “So I’m really proud that’s an NDP policy that will have a direct effect on our riding.”
In his campaigning Green party candidate William MacCallum says he has found voters are becoming more knowledgeable about his party and their policies.
Party leader Elizabeth May’s performance during the August leaders debate widely praised by commentators and viewers helped the cause he said.
“For pretty well the month of August a lot of people were really quite happy to talk about their perceptions of Elizabeth May during the debate” he said. MacCallum said he’s knocked on some 6000 doors during the campaign period throughout the riding.
Most striking to the Green party candidate is how often people express concern that the government hasn’t done enough for another group of people in particular seniors and youth.
“It’s remarkable how often seniors tell me young people need … jobs and young people are telling me we need to help our seniors” says MacCallum.
He said his party is putting forward a guaranteed livable income which would help seniors in poverty. For young people he said the Green party is focusing on improving the environment for small business.
“We’re the only party that has put forward this guaranteed livable income idea and we also believe our national pharmacare program which is for everyone of course would benefit many seniors greatly” he said.
Small business tax under the Greens would drop from 11 to nine per cent he said with corporate tax rates increasing to 2009 levels.
“We have the lowest corporate tax rates for large corporations of any country in the G7 down to 15 per cent now and we believe that large corporations haven’t kept up with their end of the bargain” he said.
The Liberal party is focused on the middle class local candidate David Marquis said.
“What we’re hearing is that the middle class has been squeezed for a long time in this country and the Liberal platform for the seven per cent tax cut in helping out middle class families is really gaining ground out there” Marquis said.
He pointed to party leader Justin Trudeau’s announcement of predictable infrastructure funding as another idea that would help out municipalities.
“Our party is going to be focused on creating jobs and providing infrastructure funding for municipalities for water and sewer for affordable housing” he said.
Marquis said even though Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock is usually a Conservative riding there is a “mood for change” in the country and the riding.
He said eight years of deficits under a Conservative government that wasn’t open or accessible has led the population to look for alternatives.
All four of the candidates have confirmed their attendance at the all candidates debate on Monday Sept. 21 at the Pinestone at 7 p.m. The meeting is open to everyone and will include the opportunity to ask questions and meet the candidates.