Candidates in Sarnia-Lambton and Lambton-Kent-Middlesex hit the campaign trail

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The signs are popping up on lawns as the political parties prepare for the Sept. 20 election.

But the federal election is creating a few headaches in Lambton County as the man who has been spearheading the fight against COVID-19 runs to become the next member of parliament for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex.

Sunday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau went to the Governor General to dissolve parliament. Election speculation has been rampant for weeks with pundits saying the Liberals hope to capitalize on good polling numbers to regain a majority.

But while the election was widely expected, some parties have yet to nominate candidates to run in local ridings.

In the Sarnia-Lambton riding Incumbent Marilyn Gladu was acclaimed to run for a third term in December.

She was out at local events on the weekend. A large election sign on Oil Heritage Road could be seen the day before the election call. Gladu faced criticism last election on the same issue, although she denied it was an election sign in the 2019 vote.

United Church Minister Adam Kilner will be carrying the NDP banner.

He announced his intentions in February after a controversy surrounding a bill banning the practice of conversion therapy. Gladu presented a petition against the bill on behalf of churches in her riding.

Many churches, particularly United Churches, said they had not been consulted by Gladu. Kilner at the time said Gladu didn’t reflect the community’s values.

This is Kilner’s second run to be an MP.

The Liberals will be represented by Lambton College professor Lois Nantais who was nominated last month. She teaches ethics at the college.

Stefanie Bunko has been named the Green Party candidate in Sarnia-Lambton. The alternative energy engineering technologist who works in renewable energy projects for the oil and gas industry.

She says there needs to be a better balance between the use of oil and gas and renewables.

“I do understand there is a need or requirement for conventional energy … you can’t just cut it off right away. But at the end of the day, we do need to kind of level it out. No one can deny there’s pros and cons for both sides but if, as the saying goes, too much of anything is going to be hurtful or harmful, we need to learn to balance it in order to actually be beneficial for both the community and the environment.”

Bunko says the Green Party platform reflects that view. “I do see the Green Party’s stance on the position and I am for, getting more towards the zero emission. Now, zero emission doesn’t necessarily have to be completely cutting off everything, you can achieve that by putting in more carbon sinks … if there’s a way to capture it and refocus it, so it’s not released, then it’s technically zero emission.”

Brian Everaert will represent the People’s Party of Canada for the second time in a federal election. He also ran in the 2018 municipal election hoping to unseat St. Clair Mayor Steve Arnold.

On election call day, Everaert told supporters on social media that the Prime Minister laid some “anti-Canadian” ground work trying to divide the country by ordering vaccines for federal employees and those using airplanes and trains. “What’s it going to be next, you have to have a booster to renew your drivers licence or you can’t go into this store because you haven’t had booster number 47?”

Everaert went on to say the Prime Minister is “out of his mind” and “already has our businesses on their backs… I know the community businesses in Sarnia-Lambton are petrified, terrified, they’re going to get locked down again.”

The PPC, which has personal responsibility and individual freedom as part of its policies, says it will not lockdown the nation as the Liberal government and the provinces have during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The race in Lambton-Kent-Middlesex, which includes much of the western and southern edge of Lambton including Warwick, Alvinston and Dawn-Euphemia, features three high profile candidates.

The incumbent is already out on the trail. Lianne Rood became MP after winning 49 per cent of the vote over Jesse McCormick of the Liberals, who garnered 25 per cent of the vote in the 2019 election.

This time around, Rood faces Dr. Sudit Ranade, the medical officer of health for Lambton County. Ranade says his experiences in the pandemic led him to seek office.

“I really used to kind of see politics as this thing that happens in its own sphere, its own circle, and it just kind of happens over there. And here we are over here carrying on with our lives. But the pandemic has really shown me how impactful those policy decisions are on our daily lives, on all of the different sectors that we have in society on all of the ways that we live.”

Ranade says he wants to take his experiences from the pandemic to help the policies of the future.

He concedes he doesn’t know a lot about agriculture and the communities in Chatham-Kent and Middlesex, but he plans to spend time listening to their concerns and learning what they need.

The Green Party announced its candidate over social media Monday. Jeremy Hull – a municipal worker and former businessman who is the cousin of the late former federal agriculture minister, Ralph Ferguson – will be the candidate. He advocates federal support to drive the economy.

“With more support from the federal level comes more successful businesses which in return creates more jobs, more revenue, and a better way of life in each community.

“I have six children all grown up now and competing in the world for secure, well paying jobs and a sustainable way of living. So again I understand the need for fair wages, secure jobs and affordable housing,” Hull said in a social media post. “I believe in the creation of new, green jobs in this area to fight the climate challenge we all face and provide a future here for generations to come.”

And Kettle and Stony Point First Nations Chief Jason Henry revealed he’ll represent the NDP in Lambton-Kent-Middlesex in this election although the party’s official website doesn’t reflect that yet.

Henry was acclaimed Aug. 15 after “a number of months” of talking with the NDP.

“I have a strong commitment to our community and our region and the Anishinabek people,” he said in a video to the community.

“I think it is time now to take our voice, our message and our fight to a broader and more diverse stage. This isn’t an abandonment of the work or a change in direction…That’s what I’m dedicated to be doing.. bring change and be a voice.”

Henry mentions issues such as health care and housing and the drug crisis in the nation.

He will take a leave of absence from his position during the 36 day campaign.

The only other declared candidate is Kevin Mitchell who will be running for the People’s Party of Canada in Lambton-Kent-Middlesex.