A veteran of six consecutive riding wins since 2004, Conservative candidate Dave MacKenzie has enjoyed serving the residents of Oxford County.
“I like people, I like what we are able to do for people and I’ve always had good staff – it makes a tremendous difference,” said MacKenzie. “Some things you can fix for people and some things you can’t, but I just enjoy the service to the community. It’s just me. Like policing, same thing, not everybody likes it but you keep doing what you can do and you do the best you can.”
Seeking a seventh term in Ottawa when the country goes to the polls on Sept. 20, Mackenzie said the local campaigning has been good so far.
“We have a campaign office and every day people are coming in. Some of them are bringing cheques, but more of them want signs. They want people to know how they are voting.”
MacKenzie recently had a Brant County man call to say, “I’ve got three farms and I want three of the biggest signs you’ve got and I want them up right now.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way he campaigns in this election.
“We’re not knocking on doors. We’re concerned about COVID and we don’t want to expose people. We’ve all been double vaccinated but people are sceptical still of COVID, so we’re not pushing that issue.”
The Conservative platform can be examined in detail on their website (conservative.ca), which includes videos and links to their latest election news.
One key issue for MacKenzie is lack of integrity in government.
“That’s one of the highlights for me… is to bring accountability back, and to make it meaningful – the penalties – for people who don’t abide by proper rules.”
Helping the country get back on its feet is another priority for MacKenzie, including the manufacturing sector.
“So many things that we’ve lost have gone out of the country, and as you know now with the automotive industry, we’re short of parts that are coming from other countries. So we need to work hard to get those things back in shape. And also to be prepared for another pandemic. We had nothing in place in Canada to deal with the blaze of pandemic.
“There are so many things that I think are important,” said MacKenzie. “Putting money back into health care. The opioid wave that’s coming across the country right now and the deaths – that’s a mental health issue. We shouldn’t try to push it onto anything other than mental health. So federal government has a responsibility and Erin O’Toole has made that one of the factors that we’re going to work at.”
Affordable housing is also getting attention in this federal election. The Conservatives are pledging to build one million homes in three years; put a temporary ban on foreign ownership by non-residents; and encourage a new market of seven and 10-year mortgages.
“Affordable housing is an issue and I see what he says (party leader Erin O’Toole) and I agree with him, but I’m not sure that we’ll ever get housing back down to a level that people would like to see for a first-time home buyer,” said MacKenzie. “Although there are first-time homes available, a lot of people don’t want them. They want the homes that their parents have. So things have gotten out of hand a bit in what people want and what’s available.”
In Oxford County, MacKenzie said there are homes that can be bought for $400,000 or less.
“Now that doesn’t seem cheap to me, but for a young person who’s got some money saved it’ll go a long ways. And I think Erin’s ideas are appropriate.”
There is surplus federal land, MacKenzie noted, that could be turned into housing properties.
“The federal government has, I think, dropped the ball in some of these areas, but to get it back to where it’s affordable I think we need to get some of the things that Erin is working at – but it’s going to be a tough slide.”
He recalled a person saying, ‘If you’re a senior and you know your neighbour sold his for $800,000, will you sell yours for $300,000?’
“Nobody wants to do that. And that’s what the problem is – everybody wants to see housing prices down for ‘somebody else’ but not for them.”
Unifor Local 636 in Woodstock planned a candidates debate Sept. 7 to be televised Sept. 11 (8 p.m.) by Rogers.
Tillsonburg District Chamber of Commerce is hosting an open-house style Meet the Candidates event, 1-3 p.m. on Sept. 15 at The Carriage Hall, 25 Brock Street West, Tillsonburg. Anyone from the community is welcome to ask candidates questions and discuss platforms in an informal setting. COVID-19 precautions will be in place.
“They did that the last time, they set up tables for each of the candidates. I think it worked well for them. It doesn’t get out of hand in any way, shape or form. In Tillsonburg you come in and talk to whoever you want to and that was fine.”