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Health care, housing, infrastructure top of mind for Hastings-Lennox and Addington candidates

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The riding of Hastings, Lennox and Addington will be electing a new MPP on June 2, as current MPP Darryl Kramp steps away from politics.

The riding of Hastings, Lennox and Addington will be electing a new MPP on June 2, as current MPP Darryl Kramp steps away from politics.

The riding stretches more than 9,000 square kilometres and represents around 95,000 people.

The largely rural riding is set to see a new MPP elected in June as Kramp, a Progressive Conservative, is not seeking re-election.

He has endorsed the Progressive Conservative Party’s new candidate Ric Bresee for the role.

“I’m from here. I know these people, and I can carry that voice at the provincial level. I’m not shy, I’m not quiet, people will listen to me as we move into the new government,” Bresee said.

Bresee is the current mayor of Loyalist Township and warden of Lennox and Addington County.

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With 22 years of municipal experience, he says he’s used to campaigning and understands what area residents want.

“We need to rebuild our economy coming out of this pandemic. We think that over the last two years has been difficult, but we’ve done a good job and we’ve actually done really well as far as the health concerns with the pandemic. But coming out of this, we now need to rebuild our economy,” Bresee said.

“We need to make sure that people have good jobs. People have houses that they can’t afford. And so those will be the directions that this government will be going forward with.”

Liberal candidate Ted Darby is prioritizing infrastructure in the riding.

“We can take advantage of our great rural communities, our small towns and villages, and we can build additional housing. But we need infrastructure. We need support. We need a helping hand. And that’s what a Liberal government will provide,” Darby said.

Darby comes from a health-care administration background and has lobbied at Queen’s Park throughout his career.

A current teacher at St. Lawrence College, he says another four years with the Ford government would mean privatization of schools and health care, something he says is unacceptable.

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“We need to support our public hospitals. Our public education is what defines us as Canadians and we hold it dear,” Darby said. “Unfortunately, the Ford government believes in privatization and believes that the public sector doesn’t have a critical role. I believe it does. I believe we need both. And I also believe in fiscal responsibility, and that’s a key defining feature good of public service, supporting the private sector and fiscal responsibility.”

Privatization of services is a major concern for NDP candidate Eric Depoe.

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“Do they want our health-care system to be like the U.S. health-care system?” Depoe said. “Which works really well if you’ve got a lot of money but doesn’t work at all well for people, the average person, and we don’t want to go there, I know we don’t want to go there, but that’s the way the Tories are taking us. And the Liberals have also done things in that direction when they were in power.”

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Depoe was a small business owner for 17 years, as well as having worked as a mail sorter in the post office for 28 years.

He says an NDP government would benefit low-income workers.

“Our party is planning to raise the minimum wage by a dollar a year starting in the fall,” Depoe said. “Another dollar in the spring and a dollar spring until we get to $20, which will be in four years’ time. So that’s to allow life to become more affordable for people who are earning minimum wage.”

A familiar face in the race, Derek Sloan is running in the district to become premier on behalf of the newly formed Ontario Party.

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Sloan won the riding for the Conservatives in the 2019 federal election.

He was later expelled from the party after it was revealed that he had received a donation from a known white supremacist.

Other riding candidates include New Blue candidate Joyce Reid and Green Party candidate Christina Wilson, who says she’s running as a paper candidate and would not give an interview.

As we draw closer to election day, all candidates continue their campaigning until June 2.

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