Finley apologizes to distraught grandfather at all-candidates debate

SIMCOE REFORMER: Barbara Simpson - Oct 9,2008

A teary-eyed Waterford-area grandfather accused MP Diane Finley of neglecting his children and grandchildren Wednesday night.

At the Simcoe all-candidates debate, Bill Mason stumbled through an account of his two grandchildren four and seven falling ill from food in May. He said he turned to Finley and her office for support in determining what was the cause of their illness even signing away their privacy, so her office could launch an investigation.

I came to your office in person with my files and photos, he said, wiping back tears. To this day, Ive never received a call or e-mail from your staff members.

Choked up, he asked, Why in my childrens moment of need did you not fulfil your promise? I accuse you and your staff of apathy.

The other candidates, as well as the audience, remained quiet, as Finley struggled through an apology.

I offer you my heartfelt apologies, Finley said. The lady who was working on the file hasnt been there since August, but thats no excuse.

This wasnt the only tough question candidates faced from audience members at Wednesdays debate held at the Park Place Banquet Centre. War resisters and their supporters asked Finley why her government didnt support American dodgers remaining in Canada when they acknowledged that the war was unjustified. A Caledonia resident and admittedly an Eric Hoskins supporter accused Independent Gary McHale of stirring up trouble for both parties involved in the land claim. And even a 10-year girl got up on her tiptoes to reach the microphone and asked candidates how theyd save Norfolk Countys fresh water.

But what was most striking was how the orange and green stripes came onto their own on the stage asking tough questions and giving tough opinions at their last all-candidates night before residents go to the polls Tuesday.

When discussion turned to a much rumoured Nanticoke nuclear power plant, NDP candidate Ian Nichols refuted Liberal candidate Eric Hoskins who claimed the Liberal party didnt have plans in the works for a nuclear plant. Hoskins added that the final decision would be left up to the community.

You bought the land, Nichols mumbled as Hoskins tried to douse the flames.

Green candidate Stephana Johnston also directed some heat onto the Conservative Party, especially about its laissez-faire attitude toward the crumbling economy.

On television, hes trying to appear warm and fuzzy, but hes panicked, she commented, reminding the audience that it was his own government who called the election.

Johnston also took aim at the proposed Conservative bill to dish out adult sentences to children as young as 14 years old.

Fourteen year olds dont need to be thrown in jail with adults, she exclaimed to a roar of applause. What kind of justice is that?

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