Sudbury·ONTARIO VOTES 2022

Nickel Belt Liberal and NDP candidates want province to start 'rebuilding' Laurentian University

The NDP and Liberal candidates running in Nickel Belt say their parties would take a very different approach to Laurentian University.

PC and Green Party candidates did not accept invitation to the debate

With no-shows from the Progressive Conservative and Green Parties, the Nickel Belt debate hosted by the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce Thursday night was a head-to-head match-up between NDPer France Gélinas and Liberal Gilles Proulx. (Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce )

The NDP and Liberal candidates running in Nickel Belt say their parties would take a very different approach to Laurentian University.

The Sudbury school has been mired in a financial crisis and many of the details have been kept out of the public eye because of a court process laid out under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act. 

"As an alumni, I was shocked, I was angry. And I'm still angry," Liberal candidate Gilles Proulx said during a debate hosted by the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce Thursday night.

"As a parent, we have to look at the possibility that our two kids will have to go to Ottawa. And we know what happens when kids leave, they don't come back."

Gilles Proulx is the Ontario Liberal candidate in Nickel Belt. (Gilles Proulx)

Proulx says after reading the auditor general's report alleging that Laurentian University administration could have avoided declaring insolvency, he'd like to see past leaders held accountable in court for their poor financial decisions.

New Democrat incumbent France Gelinas says she will leave those questions to lawyers.

But she wants to see the provincial government put a stop to the creditor protection process and start rebuilding Laurentian. 

"We have a government that hides behind the CCAA process and says 'Oh, we'll have to wait until they are out of the court.' This is not true," Gelinas said. 

The creditor protection process is currently scheduled to wrap up on May 31, just a few days before Ontario voters go to the polls, although the deadline has been extended several times.

Gelinas and Proulx were the only two candidates taking part in the debate, after Progressive Conservative Randy Hazlett and Green Party candidate Glenys Babcock didn't accept the invitation.

New Democrat France Gélinas is running to serve a fifth term as the MPP for Nickel Belt. (France Gélinas)

Hazlett is the latest on a growing list of PC candidates who have bowed out of local riding debates around the north and across the province.

Gelinas said she was "truly disappointed" to see Tories skipping debates, suggesting it was a coordinated strategy by the party.

Parry Sound-Muskoka Conservative Graydon Smith did take part in a debate in Huntsville last night. The PC party has held that seat for more than 20 years. 

Randy Hazlett, a French River town councillor who was nominated as the PC candidate in Nickel Belt last year, is the latest Conservative candidate to skip a debate this week. (Randy Hazlett)

"People of Nickel Belt and Sudbury should be insulted, because they're showing their true colours," said Proulx. 

"See, four more years of Ford Conservatives is exactly what you're going to see tonight. You're going to be ignored."

Melanie Savoie of the New Blue Party and Willy Schneider from the Ontario Party are also on the ballot in Nickel Belt for the June 2 election. 

The riding has been held by the New Democrats since 1971 and in the 2018 election, Gelinas captured a whopping 63 per cent of the vote. 


Erik White


Erik White is a CBC journalist based in Sudbury. He covers a wide range of stories about northern Ontario. Connect with him on Twitter @erikjwhite. Send story ideas to


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