May 10, 2022

By Christine Ross

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Ontario’s four main party leaders faced off in the first debate of the campaign in North Bay.

It focused on regional matters that include addiction and mental health, municipal revenue tools, and highway maintenance and safety.

PC Leader Doug Ford says he’s focused on building infrastructure in the provinces North.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said she understands that the lower populations in northern communities have led to lower budgets, but raising property taxes can’t be the answer because housing is already too expensive. She also promises to bring “good jobs” back to northern Ontario.

Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca said he’d share five per cent of the existing mining tax with municipalities to pad out their pocketbooks. He also wants to make sure northern Ontario has a seat at the table in province wide planning.

Green party Leader Mike Schreiner said he’d give all municipalities the same powers as Toronto to earn revenue and control their budgets. He adds the other parties are proposing the same ineffective solutions to old problems, but his party would bring something new to the conversation.

At one point, both Horwath and Ford went after Del Duca’s record as previous transportation minister.

“Mr. Del Duca, you had your opportunity and you failed, you were the minister of transportation, you built absolutely nothing,” remarked Ford. Three of the leaders met with reporters after the debate, except Doug Ford.

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