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Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes candidates speak on pandemic response

The local federal election candidates have a lot to say about COVID-19.

In exclusive interviews with MyPrescottNow.com, the candidates for Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes all shared their thoughts on the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic, and what should be done going forward.

Incumbent Conservative candidate Michael Barrett says that he thinks making vaccinations and COVID-19 a political issue isn’t the right way forward. “We’ve heard that from public health officials, as well,” Barrett says. 

“I think that what we need to do is give people reasonable options. If they haven’t received a vaccine, there is the option of rapid testing. It’s not something that’s widely deployed here in Ontario or in Canada, so I think that that’s tremendously important.”

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Liberal candidate Roberta Abbot says she’s “very proud” of the Liberal government’s handling of the pandemic so far. “I’ve heard that, from a lot of small businesses around the riding, that have said ‘we wouldn’t have been able to have stayed in business without the support that we had’. And, you know, a lot of them are just still barely hanging on, but at least they haven’t closed their doors for good.”

People’s Party candidate Alex Cassell says that government involvement in what people do to protect themselves and others should be limited in the future. “I think people should make a decision based on their own conscience,” Cassell says. 

“I don’t think the government should regulate or mandate any decisions for us. If you decide to, for example, get a vaccination, or wear a mask, because you’re concerned of contracting the virus, or bringing it home to your family, for example, these are decisions you should make individually. I’m a big believer in less government. People’s individual rights and responsibilities should be on the forefront.”

Green Party candidate Lorraine Rekmans says that collaboration with the provincial and federal government is key to limiting the spread and impact of COVID-19 in the future, citing the creation of the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit as an example of a good federal response.

“We had a national response to some big questions about the economy, and how people are going to manage in a lockdown without an income,” Rekmans says. “That required an immediate federal response. There’s so many pieces to this, that I guess, the answer to the question is: collaboration, or close collaboration.”

NDP candidate Michelle Taylor says that she supports the idea of a vaccine passport system. “I find it interesting when people get agitated about the concept of vaccine passports,” says Taylor. “I went to school in Ontario, and I had a vaccine passport my entire time in school, you know? The little yellow card that so many people are familiar with.”

“People want to be able to, for example, go into businesses when they’re not vaccinated, and they’re upset when the businesses don’t want to have them in. They also have to understand that if they want to have the choice of not being vaccinated, businesses also have the choice of whether or not they serve people who aren’t vaccinated.”

Election day is September 20th. An all-candidates virtual debate focused on climate issues is scheduled for September 7th, via Zoom.

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