Four Sarnia-Lambton candidates hit the streets

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Candidates for three of the four major political parties say the official federal election call doesn’t change a whole lot.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper went to the governor general Aug. 2 to kick start the campaign to the Oct. 19 election. It will be one of the longest in modern Canadian history.

With the call, political parties must follow the rules under the Election Act, including spending limits and limits to third party advertising. Most political watchers say the unofficial campaign has been underway for over a year.

On the ground in the Sarnia-Lambton riding, which includes Petrolia, the candidates have been out knocking on doors for months. “I’ve been campaigning full time since February,” says Jason McMichael, a union leader who will carry the NDP banner in the area.

McMichael says the early election call “is an incredible waste of taxpayers money” and has “dramatically increased the cost of the election.

“The state of the economy is precarious at best. I don’t think that’s what the prime minister should be doing.”

Liberal candidate David McPhail says the country has been in a “pseudo and psychological election” for some time. “It’s not going to change an awful lot.”

Marilyn Gladu of Petrolia will lead the Conservatives in Sarnia-Lambton. She, too has been campaigning leading up to the election call. She says there are “some up sides and some downsides” to the early call. “We won’t be spending taxpayers money on advertising,” she says. (However under election rules, political parties receive part of their election expenses back.) “On the downside, I had to give my notice at work so I won’t be receiving a pay check to pay the mortgage,” she added.

Gladu says she has been out campaigning for months and hearing that economics are still the biggest concerned. “Economy and jobs are the key issue,” she says. “The world is on shaky ground.”

Gladu believes one way to generate jobs for the region is by creating a heavy-haul corridor in Sarnia. The Sarnia Lambton Industrial Alliance has been working on a route to Sarnia Harbor which would allow oversized equipment to be easily moved out by water. The group is still studying the idea and will need federal and provincial cash to make it happen.

“We have a great competitive advantage with our currency 30 per cent advantage now,” she says adding Sarnia-Lambton workers have the know-how to build quality modules for the oil industry which could be shipped around the world. That, she says would create opportunity for workers returning from Alberta’s oil patch in the downturn and allow young people to apprentice in skilled trades.

McPhail says refining Canada’s oil in Sarnia-Lambton is a better option to create jobs. He’s backing the Bowman Centre’s call for a new refinery in the area to create gas from Alberta’s bitumen. He says building a plant would create thousands of construction jobs and 500 permanent positions.

It would also bring other chemical companies, including bio-chemical companies to the area. That he says could also stimulate this area’s agriculture industry.

McMichael agrees jobs and the economy are the keys to winning the election, however the NDP has different ideas of how to kick start Canada. The party is proposing a number of reforms to help small to medium sized business expand. And McMichael says it is proposing a $15 per hour minimum wage for workers in federal positions – a move which would affect thousands of people.

McMichael says he’s been getting a tremendous response at the door to the NDP ideas. And he says there is a massive feeling of the need for change – a need he says the NDP is ready to fill.

McPhail has also heard the call for change adding people are “undecided between Liberal and NDP because of the direction of wanting a change.”

The Independent tried to contact Peter Smith of the Green Party of Canada – the only other declared candidate by press time. Our calls were not immediately returned.

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