| Sep 27, 2007

Feature Article - September 27, 2007 Feature Article - September 27, 2007

Candidates Face the Publicby Jeff Green

Provincial andidates meetingRoss Sutherland, NDP; Randy Hiller, PC; Ian Wilson, Liberal; Rolly Montpellier, Green

A crowd of about 125 people filled the gym at Prince Charles Public School in Verona on an unseasonably warm night this week to hear from four candidates who hope to represent Lanark Frontenac Lennox and Addington after the provincial election on October 10.

Randy Hillier from the Conservative Party, Rolly Montpellier from the Green Party, Ross Sutherland from the New Democratic Party, and Ian Wilson from the Liberal Party faced questions about issues such as health care, education, and municipal downloading that have dominated the provincial campaign, and some local hot button issues such as uranium exploration, mining rights and the challenge of serving a geographically large riding.

Injunction _served

True to the form they have exhibited throughout the campaign, the representatives from the two largest parties, Ian Wilson and Randy Hillier, presented their contrasting styles. Hillier described many of the problems facing the government as stemming from a Toronto-centred government that is controlled by a bloated bureaucracy.

“There isn’t a bureaucracy that can stand up to the pressure I can exert,” he said at one point.

Wilson presents himself as a more co-operative politician, bent on continuing the incremental reforms his party has been instituting over the past four years.

The largest single number of questions in the debate centred around health care, which is a topic where both Ross Sutherland, a nurse from Hotel Dieu Hospital, and Ian Wilson, the former chair of the Board at Kingston General Hospital, have considerable experience.

Sutherland characterized privatization of health care delivery under both the Liberal and Conservative parties as being a major source of service cuts, specifically in the area of rural homecare in Frontenac County.

Wilson, on the other hand, cited the development of the Local Health Integration Network, and infrastructure improvements that are coming on stream.

Randy Hillier used Kingston General Hospital as an example of bureaucratic overspending leading to insufficient services to patients. He pointed to the back page of the hospital’s annual report, which lists “KGH leaders”. Hiller said there are “Three hundred and seventy five members of various boards listed on this page. Three hundred and seven people run the Province of Ontario, but we need 375 people to run Kingston General Hospital. If we cut some of these people, there would be more money for rural health services.”

(About half of the people listed on the page Randy Hiller referred to are listed under the heading of “KGH Governors”, and that list includes MP Peter Milliken, former Provincial Conservative candidate Barry Gordon, Conservative senator Hugh Segal, and Kingston Mayor Harvey Rosen. Included as well are the 22 members of the hospital’s Board of Governors, and 19 members of the KGH Foundation.)

The liveliest of the evening’s exchanges revolved around uranium exploration and the ongoing occupation at the Robertsville mine.

Ian Wilson said he thought that mining rights should be extinguished in the riding as a solution to the problem, because it is not a use “that is consistent with the enjoyment of the land that we all cherish.” Both Ross Sutherland and Rolly Montpellier expressed support for the Aboriginal occupation, and both supported a moratorium on uranium exploration and mining, which is what the Algonquins are demanding.

Randy Hillier pointed out the municipal councils all want a moratorium on uranium exploration and mining, and said it is time the wishes of “local people are given more weight than those of people who don’t live in the area.”

However, he expressed strong opposition to the occupation, because it is on private land. “We can’t sit back as people take over other people’s property, people’s houses, people’s businesses,” he said.

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