On Oct. 1, the Unity Chamber of Commerce hosted an all candidates forum to give the public an opportunity to hear platforms and pose questions to candidates regarding the upcoming federal election taking place Oct. 21.
Michael Soloski served as moderator keeping candidates to time allotted as well as managing questions presented.
With approximately 85 people in attendance, candidates were each given the opportunity to provide opening remarks that included their party’s platform, respond to a pre-determined question, field questions from the floor as well as give their closing remarks.
It was interesting to note the multi generations in the audience that included several high school students, demonstrating the desire by the public to know more about their candidates and their platforms prior to heading to the polls.
In attendance were: Marcella Pedersen, NDP candidate; Jason MacInnis, candidate for the People’s Party; Larry Ingram, candidate for the Liberal Party; and Rosemarie Falk, candidate for the Conservative Party. David Kim-Cragg of the Green Party was not in attendance. All were representing the Battlefords-Lloydminster riding.
By a selection of numbers, each candidate was placed in order of speaking. Ingram opened with his background and stating his top three platform positions are climate change, mental health and wellness, and the economy. He said when these three important issues are looked after, everything else will fall into place.
Falk, who has served as MP since 2017, has a social work degree and says she knows the value of protecting our most vulnerable people. Falk says that the oil and gas, and ag sectors need a voice. She stated the positive Conservative vision is to live within its means, offer a government that works for voters and not for their friends and to scrap the carbon tax, as well as other tax cuts or incentives. She affirmed that the Conservative party will get pipeline projects built as well as defend farmers on the world stage. The Conservatives also state they will end the 41.5B in corporate welfare because “enough is enough.”
MacInnis said the People’s Party policy is available on their website and is all about common sense. His party will get pipelines built, provide all Canadians with equal opportunity and reduce or remove the capital gains tax, he said. They will provide an environment in Canada to thrive in and will stand up for rural Canadians by expanding property protection rights, he said. He also stated the People’s Party will seek to de-fund CBC, privatize Canada Post and remove the carbon tax.
Pedersen was up next. She said the NDP vows to put people before profits. They will create a wealth tax, expand rail services, re-establish rural bus routes, and offer improved healthcare from head to toe, she said.
Each candidate was given the same question, “A great number of promises have been made by each of the parties. These promises are made with the plan that taxpayers will be funding them. At the present moment we have a huge debt, which is increasing with the deficit in the budget. How will all the promises be paid for without vastly increasing taxes and greatly reducing services?”
Falk responded by saying government must offer good stewardship of tax money as well as put money towards Canadians first. She said her party will cut spending where it doesn’t need to be.
Ingram said debt can be paid off. He referred to the fact that he has done it with a mortgage and with farmland purchases. He did allude to some previous government decisions such as the Lloydminster upgrader shares being completely sold to Husky, saying and that share in ownership should have been kept. His party is working hard to get dollars to younger generations, he said.
MacInnis said his party makes no promises or pledges on additional spending. They will not cut a single program that benefits Canadians. His party’s intention is get pipelines built that will help create jobs, which in turn will help boost the economy, he said.
Pedersen responded saying that the NDP will be good fiscal managers and spending and budgets for the NDP is about choices and priorities.
Several questions came from the audience. One question asked was what each party thought was the biggest issue. The NDP and Liberal candidates both responded climate change while the People’s Party responded freedom and the economy, while the Conservative candidate responded affordability and reducing taxes. Climate change was obviously an election issue as it was brought up several times throughout the Q&A period.
Moderator Soloski brought this portion of the agenda to a close and offered each candidate two minutes to state their final remarks.
Pedersen, as NDP candidate, thanked the chamber for hosting the forum and thanked those who came out for it. She said the NDP party will help Canada transition to green technology and that the NDP is in this for the people not their wealthy friends. With a bit of humour, she closed saying she has been an ‘MP’ (Marcella Pedersen) most of her life and wants the chance to be an MP in Ottawa.
The People’s Party, MacInnis, closed in saying his party has no bad track record. He urged voters to stop being apathetic. Stop voting against a party, but vote for the platforms you believe in. “We don’t want to treat you (Canadians) as wallets”.
The Liberal party’s candidate Ingram closed saying he would love to be elected and would represent from the Western Canadian angle.
Falk for the Conservatives, as the final speaker for the night, closed in saying, “You have an important choice on who you trust. Conservatives are focused on Canadians. Trudeau racked up debts and deficits and his unethical behaviour has broken trust.” She reminded voters in her final statement, “Don’t rob the next generation.”
The formal part of the evening concluded. The chamber offered coffee for those who wished to stay to meet and greet with the candidates at this forum.