Last night we hosted the provincial candidates’ debate at the Empire Theatre. Thanks to their amazing team for lighting & sound and YourTV for their coverage. Thanks as well to Jessica Klein (Board Member) for staying Live on Facebook throughout the debate. Watch it here or go to YourTV for “Behind the Ballot” for repeat broadcasts. Also great stories from our local media outlets with their reactions to the candidates’ responses. (Links can be found at the end of this message)
Board President Suzanne Hunt did an excellent job as moderator for a very well-behaved and respectful crowd. Behind the scenes, members of the Government Affairs committee – Peter Kempenaar, Derrick Morgan, Jon Tuer & Jim Whiteway vetted questions from the audience. Chamber staff members always step up - Matt Munro as the official time keeper kept the evening on schedule to the minute while Rosi and Susan made sure everything else ran smoothly at the front and behind the curtain.
Provincial debates don’t draw the same crowds as the municipal events, but this is an important election with many expressing weariness of 15 years of Liberal governance though fearful of alternatives. As we wait for the PC Party to identify how they plan to right Wynne’s wrongs, the NDP is gaining ground in the polls.
However you want to vote, I’d like to share why Chambers take it upon themselves to provide the most accessible debates to the public. Boards of Trade and Chambers of Commerce were introduced into communities to support the activity of economic growth and provide structure to the relationships between business and government. The voice of business, as we’ve been known since 1864, represents the interest of business owners and champions their value to their community, their province and their country. We believe our value rests within the contributions you make as owners, managers, employers and citizens. Sometimes, a business’ success is seen as something to be envied rather than celebrated. Profit is a bad word when there is hunger and homelessness.
So instead, let’s use the word, prosperity. When a business prospers, there is friendly competition, progressive job opportunities and a mindset of giving back to the community. Prosperity is not measured by the profits of business owners alone but by the ability of business to grow and be sustainable. We believe business and government should be working together to build competitiveness, support job creation and healthy communities and require accountability and transparency with the use of yours and business’ tax dollars.
This election year, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce has presented their platform “Vote for Prosperity” based on surveys and conversations with over 100 Chambers across the province.
Last evening’s debate questions provided each candidate an opportunity to describe their party’s vision as it applies to the concept of prosperity.
We enjoy an incredibly generous community and our membership represents small to large businesses, charities and corporations. My guidance to the audience last night was to listen to the answers of our candidates, appreciating a successful, prosperous business gives back; in taxes, in wages and donations that have local impact. The transparency of our government and the democracy we should cherish is what makes opportunity possible. However you make your decision, just be sure to vote.