The federal election is now just days away and it is time to collect the information presented in our recent election debates, peruse published party platforms, read over the recent report from the Ontario Chamber of Commerce; Spotlight on Ontario: How the Federal Parties Stack Up and make your decisions on what candidate you will support when you vote on October 19th.

As the host of the debates in Dufferin, we are proud of our efforts to bring people together; over 250 in Orangeville and well over 200 in Shelburne to hear firsthand how the local candidates respond to the many questions posed over the two debates. Several themes emerged in the questions: serious concern for the recently  signed TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) and how it will affect our local supply managed agricultural and automotive businesses; support for veterans; and how the candidates and their parties will support local issues such as infrastructure and affordable housing. The candidates answered questions on violence against women and reiterated their concerns for the missing and murdered aboriginal women and how they can support local institutions that work in the field of violence against women. The issue of taxes was of course discussed across many questions with differing opinions on how tax cuts for the middle class or tax increases for the wealthy will drive a prosperous economy.

The sheer volume of questions collected prior to the debate through our online system and from attendees at the debates demonstrates the passion and interest of residents of Dufferin-Caledon in this important federal election. Our team grouped questions by theme and asked as many as time would allow at each debate, with the remaining questions being forwarded to each candidate.  Candidates will then have the option of providing answers to the remaining questions, and we will post their responses on our website.

Over the past year, we have hosted debates for the provincial election in May of 2014, as well as eight municipal election debates in the fall of 2014 – one for each municipality in Dufferin County. We take this role in the community seriously and feel it is our duty as an organisation to offer this opportunity for meaningful dialogue and robust conversation on the issues that affect our livelihoods, our lives and our community.

We thank all the candidates who participated in our federal election debates for their dedication and passion to this community and for putting forward their names as candidates to represent our community in the House of Commons of Canada.

Regardless of who wins locally and federally on October 19th, we will continue to work with our elected representatives to ensure our business community has access to the best programs, funding and support services offered by all three levels of government. We encourage all residents of Dufferin County to vote on October 19th and make your voice heard.