Last Monday evening an all candidates’ forum filled Clearwater’s Legion Hall. People came to hear the Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo candidates speak, and they came armed with questions.
True to form, Donovan Cavers of the Green Party arrived by bicycle – all the way from Kamloops!
Joining him in the debate were Cathy McLeod of the Conservatives, the NDP’s Michael Crawford, Murray Todd representing the Liberal Party, and Chris Kempling of the Christian Heritage Party (CHP).
Clearwater Chamber of Commerce president Merlin Blackwell moderated the debate. Each candidate was given three minutes to state his or her case; the order of speaking was determined by a number picked out of a coffee tin.
Donovan Cavers was the first to speak. The Green Party’s platform is built around sustainability of health care, the economy and the environment.
Next was Chris Kempling of the CHP, who defined his party’s platform as the only one with an anti-abortion stance.
Michael Crawford of the NDP reminded everyone that “… this election is about trust. We’re having an election because the federal government was found in contempt of parliament, for the first time in Canadian history.”
Incumbent candidate Cathy McLeod presented the Conservative platform, which is focused on jobs, economic growth, sovereignty, and reduction of the deficit by 2014.
The Liberals’ Murray Todd spoke of respect, honesty, and integrity, qualities he feels are lacking in the current federal government.
Questions from the floor included several regarding health care and health care reform. When Cathy McLeod admitted that “we can do better”, Michael Crawford took this as an opportunity to attack the Harper government as being anti-Medicare. Chris Kempling of the CHP stated that his party believes in a two-tier healthcare system.
Murray Todd of the Liberals, whose party stands behind the Canada Health Act, immediately denounced this. The Green Party stresses prevention by promising to remove cancer-causing agents from the environment, taxing junk food and putting that money towards the development of our youth.
A question regarding problems in our justice system brought some interesting responses – from the Green Party stressing prevention and getting “to the root of the problem”, to the Conservatives who want to build more jails and achieve a more rebalanced system, to the CHP who would like to reintroduce the death penalty.
Sandra Holmes of Clearwater asked about the role of our military and expressed her concern with the fact that we have gone from being known as peacekeepers to a role as a fighting army.
The Conservative and CHP candidates both argued that Canada is meeting its obligations and has always had a reputation of stepping up to the plate.
Cavers, Todd and Crawford, however, stressed that they would like to see our military return to the “role of blue helmeted UN peacekeepers.”
An All Candidates Forum will be held in Barriere this Wednesday, Apr. 20, at the Ridge, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., with mediator Harley Wright officiating.
The forum is sponsored by the North Thompson Star/Journal.
By Helen Stec