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Full slate of candidates set for election in Perth-Wellington riding

by Mike Robinson and Chris Daponte

PERTH-WELLINGTON - With three weeks until the Oct. 6 provincial election, six candidates have announced they are vying for the Perth-Wellington seat.

They are Chris Desjardins, Irma DeVries, Ellen Papenburg,  Randy Pettapiece, Robert Smink and John Wilkinson.

Chris Desjardins - Green Party

Chris Desjardins could not be reached by press time for comments. The following biogrpahy was taken from the Green Party’s website ( For more information he can be reached at 519-273-3835 or

Desjardins has lived in Stratford for over 35 years. Currently the financial officer of the Green Party provincial riding association and the vice-chairman of Stratford’s energy and environment committee, he is also an executive member of C.A.R.E. Stratford and was previously the chairman of the city’s pesticide free education committee.

Desjardins has been active in a number of local environmental groups and involved in children’s sports.

He is the proud parent of three children and has coached hockey and soccer locally. He believes the key to a healthy and prosperous future is to instill sustainability into all facets of life.

He has said, “As a parent, we need to not only provide for our children, but ensure their future is as flourishing as ours through conserving, educating and replenishing natural resources.”

Irma DeVries - Family Coalition Party

Irma DeVries is a resolute advocate of traditional family values as a foundation for building a strong and sustainable economy and community.

She is known in the community for her service at her church, in the respect life movement and as a mentor to the mentally challenged.

Representing the Family Coalition Party provincially, DeVries says the main thing in this election is to preserve and enhance small and medium sized businesses.

Prosperity depends on those businesses, and they are dependent on strong families, she said.

She also advocates providing families with a choice in child care credits so the family can remain together.

As well, she promotes extended family care, such as the use of granny suites. DeVries also supports family building courses.

“With businesses, we want to reduce taxes and the red tape to make it easier for businesses to survive,” she said.

In addition to securing Ontario food supply, DeVries  believes more discussion is needed on energy issues.

Though she does not fault local individuals for taking up the cause of solar power microfits and panels; she finds fault with policies that pay producers far more than the energy’s actual value.

DeVries said those producers are getting up to $100 for producing $12 worth of energy. She agrees there should be more green energy, but the government is creating winners and losers.

She is also not a fan of wind turbines close to residential properties and believes setbacks should be increased.

DeVries also contends that change needs to happen in the education system. One of those changes is a better representation of parent values.

Parents need to have a choice where their children go and how they are educated, she says.

DeVries believes one of the most pressing issues today is that people need to become more involved in their schools, their municipalities and in how the provincial and federal governments operate.

People need to be aware of how these policies directly affect their lives, she said.

Ellen Papenburg - New Democratic Party

A small business owner in Drayton, Ellen Papenburg came to Canada from Holland 28 years ago and has taken part in many aspects of the local community.

Papenburg is no longer a stranger to the local political scene.

Earlier this year, she ran in Perth-Wellington as the federal NDP candidate, garnering 21% of the vote (more than her Liberal opponent).

In a recent telephone interview, Papenburg explained she put her name forward once more “because I believe in the cause, and I believe in the party.”

She finds inspiration in provincial leader Andrea Horwath.

Plus Papenburg wants to make a contribution to society. She believes running in the earlier election this year presents an opportunity.

“Now people know about me. Before, I was the new kid on the block,” she said.

Papenburg says there are a number of issues - one of them being the need to make life more affordable.

She said the HST needs to be taken off hydro and other essential services. She does not want the tax off all items, “but we need to get rid of the gouging.”

She also sees the need to freeze corporate tax breaks. She said Ontario has one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the western world.

In Wellington County, wind farms are also an issue. She would prefer concentrating on small, community turbines over large commercial wind farms.

“More importantly, we do not want to see them shoved down people’s throats,” said Papenburg.

She also believes health care is an important issue and that more focus needs to be directed to preventative issues rather than dealing with people in the emergency ward.

While she regretted the Sept. 14 all candidate meeting in Arthur was cancelled, Papenburg respected the decision of the organizers.

Papenburg noted there is an all-candidates meeting at the Alma Community Centre on Sept. 20 at 7pm.

Randy Pettapiece - Progressive Conservative

Randy Pettapiece says the election of a Progressive Conservative government will bring relief to working families and young Ontarians who are currently being overtaxed.

PC party plans for that relief include removing the HST from home energy bills, lowering income tax by 5% on the first $75,000 of income and offering an income sharing program for spouses (up to $50,000).

Other Perth-Wellington election issues identified by Pettapiece include agriculture and green energy.

He said his party has been fighting for some time for a business risk management program for farmers, with the money going to a dedicated fund. The PC party is also supportive of supply management programs, he added.

Pettapiece said green energy is a huge issue in the Perth-Wellington riding, but also across the province. He stressed he is not opposed to green energy, nor is his party, but it is too costly under the Liberal plan.

“Green energy has to be affordable, and it isn’t right now,” he said.

Pettapiece, who has lived on a farm near Monkton since 1975, said his party would also like to return the decision making process to local municipalities (that authority was removed under the province’s Green Energy Act).

On the issue of education, Pettapiece said his party is in favour of junior kindergarten and also of giving teachers more authority in the classroom.

For example, if teachers think Blackberrys and other technological devices are helpful, they can allow them, but if not they can prohibit their use.

Pettapiece, the father of three grown sons, would also like to see the return of fall report cards. If the first reports comes in January, often it’s too late to correct problems identified therein, he said.

Pettapiece said his party’s platform, named Changebook, can be found at

He explained the platform was formed after extensive consultation with Ontarians and is based on feedback from them, and not from bureaucrats or politicians.

Robert Smink - Freedom Party

For Perth-Wellington Freedom Party candidate Robert Smink, the issues in this provincial election are simple.

“They’re the same as they’ve always been,” Smink said.

Using several examples - “outrageous taxes, an ever-growing public sector, huge deficits, long medical wait times, poor quality education at ever-increasing costs, and more red tape for small businesses” - he opined the four major political parties are all the same.

“Basically they’re turning everyday people into tax slaves,” he said.

Smink, who is married with one child, has lived in St. Marys for 20 years. He has run locally in every provincial election since 1984, when he became a founding member of the Freedom Party.

His party now has about 50 members running across Ontario and the goal, Smink said, is to get at least one member elected.

But more importantly, he wants voters to know about his party and its platform, which is available at

“We want people to know there’s an alternative out there,” Smink said. “There’s a better way, and a more common sense way, to run the province.”

One of his party’s plans is to raise the speed limit on provincial highways (to 120km/h on 400 series highways and to 100 on all others). Smink explained the speed limits were set decades ago, before the development of seat belts, radial tires, air bags and other safety features.

Cars are half the weight now and much safer, he opined, so it makes sense to raise the speed limits, which very few drivers adhere to and the police seldom enforce.

“That breeds a general disrespect for the law” which can  lead to other, more serious infractions, Smink said.

Also included as part of the Freedom Party’s platform are:

- eliminating the pesticide ban;

- closing race-based public schools;

- removing Ontario’s gasoline tax; and

- scrapping the Ontario health premium.

Robert Smink did not provide a photo to the Community News.

John Wilkinson - Liberal Party

“I remember when I went into business and formed a company people said it wasn’t possible. I remember when I went to run in Perth-Wellington I got the same reaction. I love the the challenge,” says Liberal incumbent John Wilkinson.

Wilkinson was first elected to the Ontario legislature in 2003 as the MPP for Perth-Middlesex. He was re-elected in 2007 as the MPP for Perth-Wellington.

He was appointed Minister of the Environment in August 2010 after serving as Minister of Revenue since June 2009.

Wilkinson sees the economy as the main issue of the coming term.

He said issues such as health care and education can only be supported if there are jobs.

He is also focussed on ensuring there good paying jobs throughout Perth-Wellington.

That can be accomplished by working on infrastructure projects in partnership with the federal and municipal governments. He pointed to local projects, including the most recent announcement of a new emergency room for Louise Marshall Hospital in Mount Forest.

Other infrastructure work during his term in office include: work on Highways 6 and 89, Mount Forest’s sewage treatment plant, Drayton Theatre addition, Moorefield water treatment, Glen Allan bridge replacement, work within the Minto Heritage Park in Palmerston.

“These vital infrastructure projects help to create jobs,” said Wilkinson.

While a staunch defender of agricultural supply management, he noted a risk management program is now available to help agriculture remain a driving force in the local economy.

Now in his fourth election, Wilkinson enjoys travelling door to door where he’s been receiving a positive reaction from residents, in part due to a solid record of serving his constituents.

“A person is elected on rhetoric, but re-elected on results,” he said.

Wilkinson also took time to  thank the many volunteers who have donated countless hours and finances to support him in his campaign.



September 16, 2011


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