Nancy Pancheshan

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.

Nancy Pancheshan representing the Green Party in Essex riding

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Nancy Pancheshan fought to try and protect lands near Ojibway from a proposed big box development and now she is trying to become the Essex riding’s next MPP.

Pancheshan is the Green Party candidate in the June 7 provincial election and is running against NDP incumbent Taras Natyshak, Progressive Conservative (PC) candidate Chris Lewis and Liberal Kate Festeryga.

“I was trying to protect the Ojibway prairie from a big box development in Windsor,” said Pancheshan. “I saw the lack of political will to protect natural areas.”

Pancheshan believed that to make changes, the area needs people that care about climate change. However, she noted she is more than just a one issue candidate as she stated the Greens have plans for “jobs, people and the planet.”

The Green Party would help small businesses, including increasing the health payroll exemption tax from $450,000 to $1 million. Pancheshan believes the Greens’ plan for small business is the most progressive and will help businesses pay their employees fair wages. The Green Party also will invest in the “clean tech” industry, which Pancheshan said carries an average annual salary of $92,000 and will invest in retrofitting homes and buildings.

“For every $1 million invested in retrofits, 14 new jobs are created,” said Pancheshan, noting similar investments in such things as oil and gas result in “one or two” jobs created.

Pancheshan said the Greens would “stop subsidizing polluters” and turn to cheaper and more efficient energy from Quebec. The gas and oil industry are subsidized to the tune of $1.65 billion, she said, and the Green Party would direct that to other areas.

Green Party candidate Nancy Pancheshan

“We’d take that funding out and invest in hiring nurses and teachers and put people on the front lines,” said Pancheshan.

The Green Party would support farmers who want to sustain natural areas and wetlands. She added they would also help expand broadband internet to assist the agriculture industry while also getting rid of tax penalties and zoning regulations to help with family farms who want to launch businesses, such as breweries or wineries.

Pointing out that PC leader Doug Ford wants to cut gas prices by ten cents per litre, Pancheshan believed it will result in a loss of revenue to service the province’s debt and then actually add to it when federal Liberals roll out a carbon tax in 2019.

Pancheshan said CEO salaries, citing Hydro One as an example, while be reduced with the Green platform calling for CEO salaries not to exceed that of the premier.

The Greens also call for the amalgamation of school boards, as Pancheshan pointed out only Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia have multiple school boards. She noted in British Columbia, there is one system with student performance being higher than that in Ontario.

“Education accounts for 18 per cent of our spending,” she said, adding reducing administrative costs would help provide more money for the classrooms.

Pancheshan also stated the Green Party will commit $4.1 billion to mental health and addiction treatments, including hiring people to work in schools to assist students. Natural areas also play a part, she said, as walking in green areas can have a positive impact on mental health.

“The Green Party has a ‘tree hugger’ persona but we have a plan detailing how we’re going to pay for it,” she said.

Pancheshan encourages people to not only get out and vote in the June 7 election, but to vote for what they believe in. She said during her canvassing, people she has encountered don’t trust the Liberals and some “think Mr. Ford is a mini-Trump.” They said if people believe in reducing subsidies to polluters and in a green future, they should vote in her direction.

“I’m shocked by the PC plan. They have no plan,” said Pancheshan. “What kind of business runs like that? No successful business runs like that. The party with the ‘tree hugger’ persona has a better plan than the Conservatives”

Pancheshan added the debt has swelled to $269 billion under the Liberals with $11 billion being last year’s debt.

“People need to vote what they believe in,” she added. “That’s what democracy is all about.”

 

 

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.