SDSG candidates find EQAO common ground at all-candidates debate

SDSG Liberal candidate Heather Megill, NDP candidate Marc Benoit, Green candidate Elaine Kennedy and PC incumbent Jim McDonell take part in the Cornwall and District Chamber of Commerce All-Candidates Debate at the Best Western in Cornwall, Ont. on Wednesday, May 23, 2018. The debate, traditionally held at the Cornwall Civic Complex, was held at the hotel due to the municipal workers strike. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – The candidates for the upcoming Ontario election in Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry squared off Wednesday night during the Cornwall and District Chamber of Commerce All Candidates Debate.

The discussion started off somewhat apathetic as the candidates stuck to their talking points. It would later move into some more lively back-and-forth situations, covering a number of topics including health care, infrastructure, electricity and education, both elementary and post-secondary.

Around 50 people were at the Best Western Cornwall to hear from Liberal Heather Megill, Progressive Conservative Jim McDonell, New Democrat Marc Benoit and Green Elaine Kennedy.

Libertarian Sabile Trimm was not included in the debate – a decision by YourTV in order to allow the debate to flow better for TV. The community station will be running a two-minute focus piece with Trimm during replays of the debate, according to a chamber of commerce spokesman.

The debate was largely civil, though there were times when the candidates were forcefully talking over each other.

While many topics found the candidates at odds, there was some common ground, such as standardized testing by the Education Quality and Accountability Office.

Liberal Heather Megill, a teacher by profession, called the EQAO testing an “utter disaster” and said it should be up to teachers to decide the success or failure of students. NDP Marc Benoit agreed that teachers should be left to do the assessments. PC incumbent Jim McDonell criticized the Liberal government saying it had 15 years to make changes to the current system.

We go to the polls on June 7 to pick who will represent SDSG at Queen’s Park.