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Hastings—Lennox and Addington candidates talk rural infrastructure issues, ‘star power’ in riding

Hastings-Lennox and Addington candidates react to ‘superstar’ Liberal visits to riding
WATCH: The five major party candidates in Hastings-Lennox and Addington speak to local issues.

With just a week remaining before the federal election, Hastings—Lennox and Addington candidates are talking about key issues and the special attention the riding has been given by big names within the Liberal Party.

The last federal election in Hastings—Lennox and Addington was decided by a margin of just 225 votes.

Canada election: Hastings—Lennox and Addington

Liberal Mike Bossio and his team had to wait into the early morning hours before receiving the news that he was victorious in the 2015 election over Conservative candidate Daryl Kramp.

Fast-forward four years, and Bossio is once again knocking on doors and campaigning.

“In Ottawa, they call me Mr. Rural,” said Bossio as he stood on the banks of the Napanee River, noting that infrastructure plays a vital role in building sustainable rural communities.

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“It’s not sexy, but we can’t grow without it.”

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Bossio is now the incumbent in the riding and faces several major party candidates vying for the Hastings—Lennox and Addington seat in Parliament.

Conservative candidate Derek Sloan is a small-business owner and a lawyer who shares the same beliefs as Bossio regarding rural funding.

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“Locally, our focus is on stable and predictable funding for infrastructure for municipalities and also cell and internet service throughout the riding, which needs to be improved,” Sloan said.

The need for rural funding for infrastructure in the riding is a key topic in each candidate’s campaign platform.

“We are one of the poorer regions, and I want to make sure that we not only have long-term jobs but jobs that we can live with,” said People’s Party of Canada (PPC) candidate Adam L.E. Gray about the importance of infrastructure and the jobs that come with it.

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Both Sari Watson, the Green Party candidate, and David Tough, the NDP candidate, agree but hope to intertwine infrastructure funding with climate action initiatives.

“By 2030, we want all buildings retrofitted and energy-efficient, which would require a lot of trades work,” Watson said.

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Meanwhile, Tough believes climate-conscious infrastructure is key.

“We plan to invest a lot of public money in developing green infrastructure,” he said.

READ MORE: Here’s how climate change will impact the region where you live

In early October, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau paid a visit to Bossio, and the duo planted trees in a conservation area near Plainfield, Ont. Trudeau isn’t the only notable name to visit the Hastings—Lennox and Addington riding during Bossio’s campaign.

“We’ve had Catherine McKenna, Navdeep Bains, Bill Morneau and the prime minister, and the list goes on and on,” said Bossio.

The attention has caused mixed feelings among the Liberal candidate’s competitors.

“Star power is overrated in elections, I think. I really like [NDP Leader] Jagmeet Singh, I think he’s a good leader but I think elections are fundamentally about communities,” Tough said.

Watson added that Trudeau’s presence likely went over well with Liberal voters.

“Our riding is a little bit swayed, I think, by popularity, by that sense, so having Trudeau here will play well for his base,” she said.

“It is what it is,” added Gray, the PPC candidate. “They [Liberals] will always worry about this region because it’s a swing region for them.”

However, the riding’s Conservative candidate says he’s not focused on which high-profile politicians are visiting the area.

“It helps to have superstars come, but to be honest with you, the last time Trudeau was here, I heard about it by knocking on people’s doors,” Sloan said. “I’ve been very focused on the local campaign.”

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Party leaders get serious one week left before Election Day
Party leaders get serious one week left before Election Day