Sudbury

Sault Ste. Marie incumbent touts 'record-breaking investments, while opponents call for change

With the finish line in sight, the candidates in Sault Ste. Marie squared off in one last Zoom debate Thursday night. And we saw the familiar game of the challengers calling for change and the incumbent trumpeting about all the money he's brought to town. 

A traditional three-way race, Sault Ste. Marie has been a Liberal-Conservative battle in recent elections

The four candidates on the ballot in Sault Ste. Marie met in a final debate Thursday night on Zoom, hosted by the local chamber of commerce. (Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce)

With the finish line in sight, the candidates in Sault Ste. Marie squared off in one last Zoom debate Thursday night.

And we saw the familiar game of the challengers calling for change and the incumbent trumpeting about all the money he's brought to town.

Terry Sheehan said it's been a great six years for Sault Ste. Marie since he was elected Liberal MP.

He made several mentions of the "record-breaking" $750 million in federal funding he's brought to the riding.

That includes $420 million for transitioning the Algoma steel mill to electric furnaces, which Sheehan says will protect "the jobs of today and the jobs of tomorrow" at the city's larger employer.

"It's unclear again whether the other parties are going to support that or not," he shot at his opponents. 

Incumbent Liberal Terry Sheehan says Sault Ste. Marie has finally started to grow again over the last six years, after getting 'nothing' from the Conservative government for the previous 10 years. (Erik White/CBC)

Conservative Sonny Spina didn't bite on that, but did say the big spending Liberals are driving Canada toward financial ruin. 

"We cannot afford more of the same from Mr. Sheehan and the Liberals, because we cannot afford it as a country," said Spina, a former police officer turned private security firm director. 

"We need a government that will take the economy seriously and take the health of Canadians seriously."

New Democrat Marie Morin-Strom says hers is really the only party Canadians can count on as we recover from COVID. 

"Unlike the Conservatives who have a history of cutting services and the Liberals who are happy to keep those cuts in place," said the teacher and union leader. 

The candidates got a little heated up answering a question on the environment, touting their own climate change plans while telling voters not to trust their opponents.

"Justin Trudeau and Terry Sheehan have had six years of planning. We'd expect there'd be some kind of improvement. We have the worst record in the G7 for emission reductions. The absolute worst record," said Spina.

Conservative candidate Sonny Spina says Sault Ste. Marie and the rest of the country can't afford any more Liberal governments. (Submitted by Sonny Spina)

"We have done more for climate change than any other previous government," said Sheehan. 

"The reason Mr. Sheehan can claim that Liberals have the best record is the only other option is the previous Conservative government. That caucus isn't even in agreement that climate change is even real," said Morin-Strom. 

Kasper Makowski said that even though the People's Party has a "controversial" stance on climate change, promising to take no action at all, he said that doesn't mean he doesn't care about preserving the natural world locally. 

This is a rematch of sorts, with Spina losing to Sheehan in 2019 by 2,800 votes. 

The Sault has traditionally been the only true three-way race in the northeast, but in recent elections the NDP has fallen to a distant third. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Erik White

journalist

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 erik.white@cbc.ca

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