Local federal candidates clash in Chamber of Commerce debate


The Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce hosted an all federal candidates debate Friday night.

Candidates from all three local ridings were given a chance to roll out their platforms as voters get set to head to the polls in just over a week.

Starting the night off was the riding of Essex where seven candidates are battling for the seat.

The NDP's Tracey Ramsey says holding the riding from 2015 to 2019 has her well equipped to do the job again.

"These are really tough times. I've heard it at the doorstep. The anxiety, the worries and concerns. So many people were struggling before the pandemic and are in even worse shape now. What we need is someone in Ottawa who is fighting for us. When you send me to Ottawa, you know that you're sending a fighter who will stand up for you."

Liberal Audrey Festeryga says her party has a solid plan to turn the country around post-pandemic.

"As our economy recovers, we need to make sure that communities in every corner of the country, and particularly here in Essex, can reach their full potential. The Liberal team is committed to supporting manufacturing, rural communities and Canadians across Canada. We have a real plan to help move Canada forward."

The Green Party's Nancy Pancheshan says climate change and the environment need to be taken seriously.

"Canada has the chance of a lifetime to be a world leader. These are defining times and the choice is up to you. Let's stop bailing out the oil corporations and bring back our natural areas. Let's invest in a green economy. Essex is where things get built. Let's tackle the climate crisis by creating green jobs."

Incumbent Chris Lewis of the Conservative Party did not attend the debate and those who did questioned the timing of his cancellation which came shortly after the chamber issued a requirement all candidates be vaccinated against COVID-19 or provide a negative test to attend.

In a statement issued prior to the debate, Lewis says, "I am fully vaccinated" and, "The vaccine issue has become highly politicized and it shouldn't be," stating personal medical information should be kept private.

In addition to Ramsey, Festeryga, Pancheshan and Lewis — Beth Charron-Rowberry of the People's Party of Canada, Jeremy Palko with the Christian Heritage Party of Canada and independent Andrew George are also running the Essex riding.

The federal election goes September 20.