Sudbury·ONTARIO VOTES 2022

Timiskaming-Cochrane candidates debate gas prices, COVID restrictions

Provincial election candidates running in Timiskaming-Cochrane covered many different issues in Wednesday night's debate, but they say gas prices are what voters are most worried about.

Conservative and Liberal candidates skip New Liskeard debate

Three-term New Democrat incumbent John Vanthof speaks to a crowd of about 50 at a debate in New Liskeard Wednesday night. (Erik White/CBC)

Provincial election candidates running in Timiskaming-Cochrane covered many different issues in Wednesday night's debate, but they say gas prices are what voters are most worried about. 

"It's the number one issue on the doors," New Democrat incumbent John Vanthof told the crowd of 50 at a debate in New Liskeard sponsored by the local chamber of commerce.

"We are being gouged."

The three-term MPP says with gas prices across the north topping two dollars per litre for the first time in history, the provincial government needs to start regulating the fuel market.

Green Party candidate Kris Rivard says instead of griping about gas prices, we need to move faster to electric cars. 

"Gas prices aren't going to go down," said Rivard, who lives in the West Nipissing end of the riding. 

"I know it's scary, I'm scared of it myself."

New Blue Party candidate Garry Andrade says he feels that public health officials 'overreached' during the pandemic and made decisions that should come from elected officials. (Erik White/CBC)

But New Blue candidate Garry Andrade says that won't help families struggling now. 

"Can we go get groceries this week or do we have to wait until next week?"

The Marten River business owner says his party would cut three per cent off the harmonized sales tax, scrap the industrial carbon tax and work to fight the federal price on carbon. 

Green Party candidate Kris Rivard says it's time for Ontario to move faster toward electric vehicles, even though it's 'scary.' (Erik White/CBC )

Libertarian candidate Eric Cummings says his party would take the same approach.

"I think it's not doing enough. I think it's just hurting people that need the money," said the native of Temagami, who now lives in Temiskaming Shores, said of carbon taxes. 

"I think a big starting point is putting more money in people's pockets." 

Cummings also argued that a system of regional autonomy, where all decisions are not made at Queen's Park, would make sure northern Ontario gets its fair share.

"We need to be more in control of our own finances. We need to stop this one-size fits all approach they're pushing down in Toronto," he said. 

Vanthof says in his time representing Timiskaming-Cochrane in Toronto he has worked to make sure the north is better understood in the halls of government.

"We don't expect subways, we expect safe ways to get to work," he said.

"Things cost more in northern Ontario, we need to make sure people can afford to live here."

Eric Cummings is the Libertarian candidate in Timiskaming-Cochrane. (Erik White/CBC )

Andrade says he feels all citizens of the province have been "ignored and passed over" because they elect MPPs who are beholden to a party leader.

He got a round of applause several times for speaking out against COVID regulations, suggesting his party would make masking and vaccination mandates "illegal."

Cummings got similar cheers when he said that the government should never again have the power to shutdown businesses like they did several times over the last two years. 

There are lawn signs sprinkled all over the Timiskaming-Cochrane riding, including many for Progressive Conservative candidate Bill Foy, who skipped Wednesday's debate. (Erik White/CBC )

The voters in the crowd did not get to hear from Progressive Conservative Bill Foy, Liberal candidate Brian Johnson or Jeff Wilkinson of the None of the Above Party, because they did not take part in the debate. 

"There's more to politics than just putting up signs, you have to show up and answer tough questions," Vanthof told the crowd at Riverside Place. 


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