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Let the games begin in Barrie-Innisfil: time to get down to business

Barrie-Innisfil candidates talk about what they're hearing from local voters and topics that will be addressed during the campaign

The federal election is a little over five weeks away, but today officially marked the beginning of campaigning and it's time to get down to brass tacks. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dissolved government this morning.

There are five candidates hoping to come out on top in the Oct. 21 in Barrie-Innisfil


The Barrie-Innisfil riding is currently held by Conservative MP John Brassard. He is up against Bonnie North (Green), Pekka Reinio (NDP), Stephanie Robinson (People's Party), and Lisa-Marie Wilson (Liberal).

BarrieToday reached out to each of the local candidates to get their take on issues, campaigning and what's in store. North and Robinson did not respond by publication time. 

John Brassard, Conservative

"Everything is firing according to plan," said John Brassard, who noted the campaign office is open and more than 1,000 signs are spoken for by supporters. "My attitude is you get on the door and talk to the people about the issues that are affecting them. I've been doing that ever since I was a municipal councillor and now as a member of Parliament as well.

"We've actually been door-knocking (since May)," added Brassard, who is coming off his first term as MP. "I do it every summer. I'm not one of these guys that just goes around at election time and knocks on door. We've knocked on thousands of doors, talking to people about the issues that are important to them."

One of the main issues the Conservative camp has been hearing is affordability, said Brassard

"People don't feel like they're much further ahead than they were four years ago," he said, adding there's "a lot of anxiety" from people he has spoken to.

From grocery costs to the carbon tax, "it's just a cascading increase of goods and services that their wages and retirement income is not keeping with," noted Brassard, who added Liberal ethics is a close second. 

Speaking of ethics, to get re-elected, Brassard says his work ethic will have to take centre stage, which is everything from passport applications to taxes. 

"I've worked hard over the last four years and built a lot of relationships," he said. "I also think I've been a very strong voice, a very pragmatic and reasonable voice in the House of Commons. Being in Opposition is different than being in government; our job is to hold the government to account, and there's certainly been a lot to hold them to account on.

"We are working to make sure people get ahead, not just government insiders or well-connected insiders to this Liberal government," Brassard added. "Our focus is going to be on people. From what I'm hearing at the door, I think that message is going to resonate." 

Pekka Reinio, NDP

For the NDP, candidate Pekka Reinio says it's all about face time. 

"Our priority at the start of the campaign is to continue to reach as many doors in Barrie-Innisfil as possible," said Reinio, who also ran for the NDP in the last provincial election. "Our platform is resonating with voters at the door and so we are eager to connect with as many residents as possible."

There are several issues on people's minds, says the local teacher and librarian. 

"Over the last two weeks, the issues that continually come up while out door knocking are climate change, universal pharmacare and affordable housing for young people, seniors and almost everyone in between," Reinio told BarrieToday. "Housing costs and rent are out of reach for too many people.

"Protecting and strengthening education is also on the top of mind for many parents in elementary and secondary school as well as for young people heading to post-secondary," he added. "Finally, the well-being of the Lake Simcoe watershed must be ensured for our economy and our community."

In order to win a seat in the House of Commons, Reinio says it's about reaching as many people as possible. 

"I'm working to continue to build one-on-one connections in Barrie-Innisfil and share our message for a positive future with a  government that responds to our community needs," he said. "I'm eager to hear the concerns of residents and work with all levels of government to ensure a positive future for all residents."

Lisa-Marie Wilson, Liberal

Like most candidates, Lisa-Marie Wilson wasn't sitting idly by waiting for the writ to drop on Tuesday. 

"While today may be the official start of the campaign, our team has already been hard at work knocking on doors and speaking with voters in Barrie and Innisfil about the issues that matter most," she said. "Our No. 1 priority is to have as many conversations as possible with voters and highlight the key aspects of the Liberal platform."

Wilson, who is also a school board trustee representing the city's south end, says several issues are already coming to the fore. 

"Based on what we have already heard, many residents of Barrie and Innisfil are concerned about climate change, housing affordability and supporting our seniors," she said. "Under Justin Trudeau, we've made real progress to invest in our middle class, to grow an economy that works for everyone, and to protect a clean environment for future generations – and together, there’s so much more to do.

"We have also heard from many voters about their concerns with the drastic cuts being made by (Ontario Premier) Doug Ford to education and health care, and it is clear that, if elected, Andrew Scheer will make the same drastic cuts," Wilson added. 

Wilson says it's up to the people to determine which way they want the country to go.

"Voters in Barrie-Innisfil have an important choice to make on Oct. 21," she said. "It's about the kind of future we want to build together. I know what I am up against and I know what’s at stake.

"The Conservatives like to say they’re for the people, but then they cut taxes for the wealthy and cut services for everyone else," Wilson added. "As the Liberal candidate for Barrie-Innisfil, I am proud to be part of a team committed to building a better future for all Canadians."


Raymond Bowe

About the Author: Raymond Bowe

Raymond is an award-winning journalist who has been reporting from Simcoe County since 2000
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