Greater Bay of Quinte Area Chapter: Hosts all candidate debate

Click here to read ‘Candidates absent from debate‘ By Bruce Bell –, October 1, 2015

PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY – For the second time in as many days, it was a short stage at an all-candidates meeting at Essroc Arena in Wellington for candidates in the upcoming federal election.

CARP – a nationwide advocacy group for retired people – celebrated National Seniors Day with a host of activities, including the all candidates meeting and, once again, only Liberal candidate Neil Ellis, NDP candidate Terry Cassidy and Independent Trueman Tuck attended.

Conservative candidate Jodie Jenkins and Green candidate Rachel Nelems both declined invitations.

Mary Robertson, chairperson for the Greater Bay of Quinte Chapter 39 of CARP said she was puzzled by the absence of both Jenkins and Nelems.

“I simply find it mind boggling that with our aging population, why anyone would ignore this sector at such an important time,” she said. “It was just released that seniors make up 16.1 per cent of the population in Canada while those 16 and under (years of age) only make up 16 per cent. That’s the first time seniors have surpassed the younger group and it’s only going to grow.

“Statistics show that 75 per cent of seniors vote and I would think this is the group you would want to be visible in front of. This is the third all-candidates meeting we’ve hosted, including Brighton and Thurlow, and we’ve yet to hear a word from the Conservatives. Again, I find that mind boggling.”

Roberston said her group had no problem hosting the meeting less than 24 hours after the Retired Teachers of Ontario and three major teacher unions hosted a similar event at the same venue.

“It’s been suggested that we should have gotten together, but, in all honesty, we’re two different groups and we do have many issues that are different from one another,” she explained. “Seniors are concerned about health care, housing, elder abuse and a number of other seniors-specific issues, but they are also concerned about the issues everyone in this country face.”

Former Prince Edward County resident Grant Harrison, who now resides in Belleville, agreed with Robertson and said he had no senior issues to take up with the candidates, but would have liked to hear some explanation of a number of Conservative policies.

“There are a number of things I would have liked answers to,” he said while looking at a list of Conservative policies. “I think it’s a shame they are not here to explain some of these.”

Cassidy drew loud applause as he introduced himself to the crowd of approximately 80 people when he said, “Thank you all for coming here today because, apparently, some don’t understand how important that is when trying to get elected.”