Editors Note: This is one of a series of profiles of the federal candidates in Sarnia-Lambton and Lambton-Kent-Middlesex in the Oct. 21 election.
Carmen Lemieux says the Conservative candidate is taking a lot of credit for Liberal investment in Sarnia-Lambton.
The 54 year-old former elementary school principal (she worked at both Hillcrest and Queen Elizabeth II in Petrolia over the years) likes to work with people to solve problems. And she says the campaign in Sarnia-Lambton has been “collegial and respectful” but she wants to set the record straight.
Lemieux says $200 million in federal cash has come to the riding, including $6 million to help build the Oversized Load Corridor.
Conservative MP Marilyn Gladu worked with local officials to bring the project forward, but Lemieux points out; “Conservatives have voted against every budget that brought the money to Sarnia-Lambton.
“They can’t have it both ways, can’t claim to have brought the money to Sarnia when they voted against the budget…There has been a lot of appropriating of Liberal success that Conservative have voted against.
“I just want to clarify…the Conservatives say they brought in the money but have voted against every budget that brought the money here.”
Lemieux is hoping to get more of that federal money to help create affordable housing.
Lemieux who has been working to keep lower rent accommodation in downtown Sarnia for years, says people are having a hard time finding a place to live.
“I hear it from seniors and students, hear it from people trying to get into the housing market – there is a lot of speculation in the housing market.”
That, she says, makes it difficult to find a place to live. So she says people are moving to the rural area, where the housing is cheaper, but services such as transportation aren’t available causing different problems.
Lemieux believes the current economic boom in the Chemical Valley is making the problem worse. And she doesn’t think it is about to go away.
“There are more international students from the college, there are more seniors looking to transition out of homes to smaller apartments – that’s a demographic shift – and when the economy booms, that is going to put pressure on it.
“Where are we going to put people coming to Sarnia to work? I don’t see the need going away.”
Lemieux says she’s also hearing a lot of concern about the environment this campaign. And one of the issues for many who work in the petrochemical industry is job security – when Canada transitions to a green economy, what will happen to their job at the plants?
“We need to help them – help everyone – as we transition to a green economy. We can’t be left behind.”
Lemieux says while there is anxiety, she believes there will be jobs available for people in the trades.
“There will still be a need for pipefitters, there will still be a need for welders; we’ll still need those people, it is just the feedstock will change.”
Lemieux adds the Liberals have supported the biochemical industry in the area, providing funding for new startups like Woodland BioFuels.
The candidate is also hoping to start a national conversation about the opioid crisis and youth mental health. She believes there needs to be a national strategy to deal with the issues.
Lemieux faces Marilyn Gladu (C), Adam Kilner (NDP), Peter Smith (Green), Brian Everaert (PPC) and Tom Laird (CHP) in the Oct. 21 election.