Kate Festeryga

Candidates come to Villanova to speak with students



By Ron Giofu


Three of the four candidates from the Essex riding turned out to St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School to discuss issues with students.

Liberal candidate Kate Festeryga, PC candidate Chris Lewis and Green candidate Nancy Pancheshan were at Villanova last Wednesday morning to talk to an auditorium filled with Grade 10 students. NDP candidate Taras Natyshak was not in attendance, but NDP leader Andrea Horwath did visit the region that day.

Steven D’Amelio, a Grade 10 civics teacher at Villanova, said there will be a student vote this week and he decided to invite the candidates, so they would know who they are voting for.

Villanova civics teacher Steven D’Amelio (left) welcomes Essex provincial candidates Chris Lewis (Progressive Conservative), Kate Festeryga (Liberal) and Nancy Pancheshan (Green) to an all-candidates forum May 30.

“We have Grade 10 civics classes talking about politics, government and voting,” said D’Amelio.

Among the topics the candidate covered were education, environment and energy.

“It’s not a debate,” said D’Amelio. “It’s more about where they stand on the topics.”

Villanova principal Amy Facchineri told the students they had a “very unique opportunity” as she could not recall doing something like that before.

Facchineri said that even though the Grade 10 students couldn’t vote in Thursday’s provincial election, they do deal with a number of social issues and topics and should be informed of the issues that are out there.

Local candidates staying busy as June 7 provincial election approaches


By Bryan Jessop & Ron Giofu


The Ontario election is June 7 and the Essex PC candidate was bolstered by a visit from his leader.

The riding’s Liberal candidate took aim at PC leader Doug Ford after his visit while the NDP incumbent scored an endorsement last week at a separate event.

After arriving in Woodslee during the morning last Wednesday, Ford spent the early afternoon at Colasanti’s Tropical Gardens to share his thoughts and his party’s platform objectives. There, he was welcomed by supporters who greeted him at the facility’s main dining area.

Ford was joined by campaign support staff as well as PC candidates for local ridings including Adam Ibrahim for Windsor West, Mohammad Latif for Windsor Tecumseh, incumbent Rick Nicholls for Chatham-Kent Leamington and the event’s emcee, Essex PC candidate Chris Lewis.

Setting his sights on both Liberal and NDP opponents, Ford declared that if elected, sweeping changes would be instilled by his government from Queen’s Park in Toronto across the province of Ontario.

“On June the 7th, we will send the Liberals packing,” Ford declared. “We’re going to make sure there’s accountability, transparency and integrity when it comes to the taxpayers of this great province.”

The party’s leader explained that one of the Progressive Conservatives’ initial priorities would be to conduct an item-by-item audit to discover “whose been getting rich off (their) money.” Ford noted that addressing “out of control” hydro rates in Ontario would be a concern at the top of the party’s to do list.

“The Six Million Dollar Man will not be the Six Million Dollar man as of June the 7th,” Ford said in reference to Hydro One CEO Mayo Schmidt’s salary compensation of $6.2 million for 2017. “We’ll make sure that we reduce the hydro rates right away by 12 per cent to each and every single person here, making sure we put money back into your pocket instead of the government’s pocket. It’s unacceptable that we have the highest hydro rates in North America.”

The PC leader also vowed to reduce taxes for middle income families by 20 per cent. Pointing out that small business employs 85 per cent of Ontario’s workforce, Ford also announced that tax reductions of 8.75 per cent would be earmarked for small- and medium-sized businesses.

“They’ve been getting gouged by this government,” Ford said of Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals.

Next, Ford brought up the matter of health care, explaining that wait lines in Ontario hospitals range from four hours to as many as 12 hours. He committed to creating 15,000 new long term care beds across the province over the next five years and an additional 15,000 new long term care beds over the five years following that time frame. Ford noted that there are 32,000 seniors in the province waiting for long term care beds, which he described as “staggering numbers.” Another $1.9 billion over 10 years will be directed towards mental illness, addiction care and housing under PC leadership, the party leader explained. He also committed to the support of 100,000 low-income seniors who cannot afford proper dental care.

Ontario PC leader Doug Ford (left) and Essex
candidate Chris Lewis (foreground) pose with
constituents when Ford visited Colasanti’s Tropical Gardens May 23.

Also, Ford declared that $100 million would be set aside for broadband and cellular communications in addition to natural gas expansion in rural areas.

Kate Festeryga, the Liberal candidate in the Essex riding, said her party has spent millions investing in the area.

““It’s too bad that Doug Ford only spent a couple of hours here in Essex. This riding is home to some of the best businesses in Ontario. Businesses that have been able to scale up and add more jobs in these communities thanks to the investments made by the Liberals,” she said.

Those include $1 billion for Ford, $85.8 million for Fiat Chrysler among others, with Festeryga also listing other businesses she said the Liberals have supported including Amherstburg businesses Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery and Belwood Poultry. Others she included in a press release were Electromac Group, Lakeside Plastics, Ventra Group Essex, Integrity Tool & Mold, Windsor Mold, Astrex Inc., Nemak, CAPSCanada Corp. Erie Shores Growers, Pelee Island Winery, Oxley Estate Winery, Serenity Lavender Farms Inc., Redoe Mold Company, Essex Weld Solutions, Agriculture Technology Inc. and ARRRC International Inc.

Meanwhile, NDP candidate Taras Natyshak picked an endorsement of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF) last Saturday. Natyshak was among the local NDP candidates to get the endorsement.

“OSSTF/FEESO members are excited to see the significant alignment between our vision for publicly funded education in Ontario, as found in our education platform, and the priorities identified in the NDP election platform,” said OSSTF president Harvey Bischof. “I’m proud to stand here today and urge OSSTF/FEESO members in District 9 to support Lisa Gretzky, Percy Hatfield, Taras Natyshak and Jordan McGrail on June 7.”

OSSTF/FEESO District 9 president Erin Roy also endorsed all four local NDP candidates.

“As incumbent MPP’s, Taras Natyshak, Percy Hatfield and Lisa Gretzky have been tireless advocates for their constituents and we believe that Jordan McGrail is ready to do the same in Chatham-Kent-Leamington,” said Roy. “We need MPP’s who are vocal supporters of a strong public education system that all Ontarians can rely on and we are confident our members will support Lisa, Percy, Taras and Jordan on election day.”

Kate Festeryga carrying banner for Liberals in Essex riding



By Ron Giofu


The Liberal Party has its candidate for the June 7 provincial election

Kate Festeryga has been nominated and will be the Liberal candidate in the Essex riding. If the name Festeryga is familiar, it is because her mother Audrey ran federally in the riding three years ago.

Festergya was nominated last week and she is pleased with her campaign thus far.

“We’re really happy with how things are unfolding,” she said. “I’m happy with how things are going.”

Festeryga said she has worked at Queen’s Park the last few years, in both the Ministry of Economic Development and Growth and at the Ministry of Energy. While noting that young females coming forward “is a very difficult thing to do,” the 26-year-old Festergya said she knows she has the knowledge base and vision and decided to put her name out there and run.

“I wanted to make sure our community was heard and I was making a difference,” she said.

When Doug Ford was elected as leader of the Progressive Conservative (PC) party, Festeryga said that also led her to want to run.

“This wasn’t something I could let happen,” she said. “I couldn’t sit back and not be fully involved in this election. I made the decision to put my name on the ballot instead of working behind the scenes.”

Festergya said the reception she has been receiving has been positive thus far.

“The reception in the community has been wonderful,” she said. “The community is excited about a fresh voice for the community.”

Believing the Liberals have the best plan for the economy, Festeryga said the New Democrats’ plan has many elements that have already been done by the Liberals while the PC’s don’t have a plan.

“We’re doing all the things Doug Ford said he is going to do,” said Festeryga. She added the NDP plan is “an outdated economic plan that doesn’t make sense for what Ontario is and what it is going to be.”

Festeryga said the Liberals have stood up for the auto industry, brought down the unemployment rate and removed over 800 regulations in an effort to grow the economy.

The issue of energy costs was addressed, with Festeryga stating the Liberals have made substantial investment in the area. She noted the grid hadn’t been invested in prior to the 2003 blackout so the Liberals invested in it, got into green energy and got off “dirty coal,” the latter being a major climate change initiative, Festergya stated.

“We really are leading the way in green energy and Windsor-Essex played a role in that,” she said.

The investments landed on people’s energy bills, she noted and people said it was too much, too soon so the Ontario Fair Hydro Act came about and Festergya said Essex NDP MPP Taras Natyshak was opposed. She said that has seen cuts to hydro bills.

Liberal candidate Kate Festeryga

During the Liberals time in office, there have been no smog days and $4 billion saved in health care costs, said Festeryga.

The NDP plan for energy won’t work, she believed, as buying back Hydro One shares “will not impact bills a single cent” and will cost taxpayers $8 billion. The PC’s aren’t any better, she added.

“When we look at the energy sector, the PC’s and NDP have regressive policies,” said Festeryga.

Health care is another big issue for Festeryga and she said there are $12 billion in cuts projected if the Doug Ford-led PC Party comes into power. That makes her question the future of the mega-hospital project as that amount of cuts “means the mega-hospital is on the verge of being on the chopping block.”

The Liberal Party has increased funding for Windsor and Leamington hospitals two per cent, she added, as well as adding 700 long-term care beds within the Erie Shores LHIN. The Liberals are assisting with more mental health initiatives and child care spaces as well, she stated. Regarding the latter, Festeryga said the PC’s propose $175 per year for families (“It’s not a plan.”) while the NDP plan does not address capacity issues.

“If a woman can’t get back into the workplace because of childcare, they are not fully participating,” she said.

Festeryga pointed out there have also been investments in education, noting new and renovated schools and the support of a tech hub in this area. She also criticized Ford’s stance on agriculture, stating he wanted to pave over the green belt because “it’s just farmland.” She said the area is rich in agriculture and produces a lot of great produce.

While the Liberals are in third place in most polls, Festeryga said that is “not reflective of what’s going on in Ontario.” Projections of only two seats for the party “is just not going to happen” and compared it to the United States where polls showed Donald Trump losing only to have him win the White House. That was painful for Festeryga, who noted she worked on the campaign for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

“Once you get rid of the noise, you realize things aren’t that bad. Things are going well,” she said. “I’m not going to worry about polls.”

“It’s going to be an interesting election in Essex,” Festeryga continued. “It’s the one to watch for sure.”


Provincial candidates face off in debate



By Ron Giofu


Candidates in the riding of Essex faced off as part of a series of debates presented by the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Windsor and District Labour Council.

NDP incumbent Taras Natyshak faced challengers that included PC candidate Chris Lewis, Green Party candidate Nancy Pancheshan and Liberal candidate Kate Festeryga.

Natyshak said “we are on the cusp of change in Ontario” and that “New Democrats believe we don’t have to choose between bad and worse.” He said the NDP has a fully costed plan if elected.

Lewis said that “to say I’m grassroots is an understatement” and that he is “results and action driven.”

“I know what it takes to get the job done,” he said.

Liberal candidate Kate Festeryga

Festeryga acknowledged that the “Liberals aren’t the most popular party in the room right now” but said Liberal policies have led to big gains in the Windsor-Essex region including the unemployment rate dropping below the national average, reductions in small business tax rates and cutting regulations to businesses.

“We could go on forever on what we’re doing for the economy,” she said.

As it relates to agriculture, Lewis said it was an issue “near and dear to me,” adding the PC’s will be the only party to cut the carbon tax. He said he doesn’t claim to have all the answers but he and the PC Party will surround themselves with the right people and “we’ll get the job done.”

Festeryga said she comes from a third generation family farm and criticized PC leader Doug Ford for comments about paving over the green belt as “it’s just farmer’s fields.” She said Liberals have helped cut hydro rates for 500,000 small businesses and farms.

PC candidate Chris Lewis

Pancheshan said the Greens support small businesses and farms and support the promotion of craft breweries and wineries.

Natyshak said “my PC colleague says he doesn’t have the answers because he has no plan whatsoever.” He said the NDP will invest in broadband internet because farms are “high tech” operations. The NDP will also end the rural delivery charges and also will end time-of-use billing, noting it is “ruining” some farm operations. He said while Premier Kathleen Wynne has called the NDP position on energy “a dream,” the Liberal plan is “a nightmare.”

Natyshak added the NDP will buy back Hydro One shares as the party believes hydro should always be in public hands. He accused the PC’s of actually wanting to adopt some of Wynne’s plans regarding energy.

NDP candidate Taras Natyshak (incumbent)

Festeryga said Natyshak voted against the Ontario Fair Hydro Plan and said the NDP plan will not result in any billing decreases as rates are set by the Ontario Energy Board. Lewis said the Green Energy Act is having an adverse effect and is driving business away while Pancheshan said the Greens support not continuing to subsidize big business. The Green platform calls for a long-term energy plan that would see Ontario powered with 100 per cent renewable energy.

Pancheshan said the Greens support the idea of one school board with savings from administration costs passed down to the “front lines” such as students in classrooms. They will also eliminate EQAO testing, something Natyshak said the NDP will do as well.

There is also a failed funding formula in education, Natyshak added, something that has been passed down from as far back as the Mike Harris PC government.

Green Party candidate Nancy Pancheshan

On the health care front, Natyshak said the health system is “chronically underfunded.” Lewis indicated the party will end “hallway healthcare” and that the PC’s will “take care of front line workers” and assist mental health initiatives.

Festeryga indicated there were hospital closures and cuts under both NDP and PC governments while Pancheshan said the Greens want to prioritize front line investment.

The provincial election is June 7.