Election forum: Trust, apathy cited as federal-election issues
When it was over, Conservative candidate Cathy McLeod presented Green challenger Donovan Cavers with a T-shirt for his efforts in campaigning by bicycle.
It was a lighthearted gesture that seemed to sum up the final public debate between the five candidates who want to be MP for the Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo riding.
There were no knock-out blows as about 350 people came out to Thompson Rivers University’s Grand Hall on Wednesday night (April 27) for the media-sponsored debate.
However, there was plenty of discussion on a range of topics brought about through questions from the public — from the economy and health care to Internet billing and fighter jets.
Both NDP candidate Michael Crawford and Liberal candidate Murray Todd wasted no time taking aim at the credibility of the Conservative government.
Crawford argued the election is about trust, which he claimed the Conservatives have lost, while Todd noted the historic contempt of Parliament finding against the governing party.
“They [Conservatives] are a divisive dividing party,” Todd said.
However, McLeod countered with an appeal for voters to stay with her government’s economic-action plan, noting $175 million worth of projects have come to the riding in the last couple years.
On the issue of voter apathy, Cavers and Christian Heritage candidate Chris Kempling said electoral reform is needed to achieve higher vote turnout, with Cavers calling it a “travesty” that nearly one-million people voted Green in the last election, yet the party failed to get a seat in Parliament.
The topic also led to a humorous moment when Cavers said it was the only issue on which his party and CHP agree.
Kempling said the Senate should represent regions, not parties, while Crawford said the Red Chamber should abolished.
But, McLeod said she didn’t get a sense there is voter apathy.
She was also challenged on her views on abortion, but McLeod didn’t give a definitive answer, preferring instead to follow leader Stephen Harper’s refrain that “we need to change hearts, not laws.”
Kempling was quick to note his party is the only pro-life party on the ballot.
All the candidates said they are opposed to usage-pay billing for the Internet, with Crawford arguing for better service throughout the riding and McLeod noting her party’s move to override a CRTC decision that allowed Internet providers to charge based on use.
On the issue of debt, McLeod said Canada is better off than most nations in the world and accused the NDP of having “magic money” in its platform, which she said will raise taxes on 100,000 businesses.
Crawford said the corporate-tax rate is too low, while Todd said his party would restore tax rates on the largest companies to 2010 levels.