GRAVENHURST - On Oct. 1 the Gravenhurst Opera House was filled with voters.
The audience waited as did the candidates representing the NDP, Liberal and Green Party, for the arrival of the late Conservative candidate Scott Aitchison to begin the evening.
Among many questions which Muskoka Post will feature in articles prior to the Oct. 21 election, one was by far a primary question for voters.
What do you think is the most important issue facing Muskoka and how would you help to address that issue at Parliament Hill?
Green Party candidate Gord Miller thinks the quality of water in Muskoka is one of the primary subjects to address in this riding.
“Our whole way of life here is defined by the Muskoka lakes and Georgian Bay. The quality of the water is the quality of our environment and is the basis of our economy,” he said.
Miller believes the federal government has a role in protecting the lakes in Muskoka.
Liberal candidate Trisha Cowie’s primary focus in Muskoka is on reconciliation and affordable housing.
She began with addressing the high mortality rate among indigenous children.
“We have children who are actually dying because of the underfunding of past governments and we need to fix that,” she said.
Cowie also addressed the need for housing as being among high priority issues.
“We have people who are homeless here, who are living in cars who can’t find places to go.”
For NDP candidate Tom Young that was the hardest question of the night. But on his radar was housing as well.
“Housing is huge, it really is because each and every day of my life I run into someone that is having a housing issue. There are people, believe it or not, living under the bridge in Bracebridge. We have to get on housing and not later,” Young said.
He noted that he would advocate loudly for funding to address housing in the region.
Conservative candidate Scott Aitchison believes housing and health care are the top two pressing issues in Muskoka.
He bypassed answering on housing and noted that it was already discussed previously. Instead he talked about health care and the controversial hospital funding for this region.
“The situation we are facing with hospitals and the massive local share we are expected to pay ... the federal government is going to have to help and play a role,” he said.
Muskoka Post sent questions to each candidate regarding the ridings housing crisis; Scott Aitchison’s campaign did not respond.
The People’s Party of Canada candidate Michelle Smith has dropped out of the race due to personal reason.