Timmins-James Bay candidates vie for federal seat

With an area spanning more than 250,000 kilometres, from Kirkland Lake to Timmins and north to the James Bay Coast, four candidates are vying to serve the Timmins-James Bay riding in the fast-approaching federal election.

The incumbent, Charlie Angus, is coming off of a 17-year streak as MP for the New Democrats.

He said the party has a strong track recording of supporting the area's constituents through important issues and people can continue to rely on that.

"The issue of the opioid crisis is a very emotional issue in the area and people really want to know that something's going to be done on it," Angus said, of one of the key challenges that he promises to help overcome.

"We have many other issues that are hitting our region, certainly, the housing issues. We've had the Liberals talk about a national housing strategy forever -- we're not seeing the benefits of that.

"In the far north, we're still seeing in many communities where there's problems of clean water, poverty."

Conservative candidate Morgan Ellerton agreed these are some of the most pressing issues in the area, in addition to economic recovery from the pandemic.

However, he said the riding needs a change in representation to a party with a stronger presence in Parliament that can have more bargaining power.

"Especially the mental health, the homelessness, the addiction crisis in the area," said Ellerton, a registered nurse working at the Timmins and District Hospital who said the Conservatives offered the best platform for action.

"I've been struggling to get resources for many of my own patients and clients and this all just came together and said hey, this absolutely makes sense.

"Many of our resources and some of the investments that could be happening in our communities are simply falling to the side."

Former mayor in the race

Liberal candidate and former Timmins Mayor Steve Black said the riding has spent too long appealing to the ruling government for support.

He said with Justin Trudeau aiming for a majority in this election, voting Liberal is Timmins-James Bay's chance to make sure it is properly represented.

"When you look at Indigenous communities, when you look at mental health and addictions, when you look at housing, when you look at affordability for seniors and pensions for seniors, these are all issues that the Liberal party wants to continue to work on and address," said Black, who previously ran for the Conservatives.

"They've been key parts of their platforms over the years and I think (between) the two parties that are competing to form government right now — and it does look like it's a two-party race — the Liberal party is by far the better party to address those issues here, locally."

Also on the ballot is People's Party of Canada candidate Stephen MacLeod, who is running on the promise of ending COVID lockdowns and vaccine passports, boosting the regional economy and lowering federal taxes.

The Green Party is not fielding a candidate in this riding.