(Clockwise from left to right: Louise Beggs moderator for the evening, Gordon Kubanek, Chris Rodgers, Kevin Hua and Pierre Poilievre. Photos by Barry Gray and Stittsville Central)
The all-candidates meeting hosted by the Stittsville Village Association drew a varied swath of questions from the audience. Louise Beggs was the moderator for the evening. She thanked Tanya Hein and Phil Sweetnam for organizing the event, as well as Hélène Rivest the timekeeper and Ray Lamb for his audio contribution. The four Carleton riding candidates present to take questions were —
Kevin Hua representing the NDP. One of the youngest candidates running in this election, Kevin is only 18 years old. A Stittsville resident, born and raised, he attends Carleton University. Kevin gave an overview of part of his party’s platform – climate crisis, cost of living for everyday Canadians, childcare, interest rate on university loans. Kevin volunteers with the Ottawa Catholic School Board Indigenous Education program. He said that he is the alternative to the Liberal and Conservative parties.
Gordon Kubanek representing the Green Party. Gordon is a retired engineer from the pulp and paper industry, a consultant and school physics teacher. He resides outside of Kars. This is the fifth election race he has entered since 2007. Gordon noted that his party is a leader in fighting climate change and would personally look at the opiate crisis, mental health and diabetes programs. He said Canada has been stuck in the same mold for 150 years with the same two parties leading the country.
Pierre Poilievre representing the Conservatives. Pierre has been the sitting member of parliament for 15 years. He resides in Greely. Pierre outlined the many fights he has taken on – Civic Hospital decision that led to the move to the present proposed site; business taxes; Strandherd Bridge; Ottawa River Action Plan. He said that the Conservatives have a costed out platform.
Chris Rodgers representing the Liberals. Chris is a teacher at South Carleton High School. Chris stated that he has the best experience to represent the riding as he has worked outside of the political world. He resides in Metcalfe. In his introductory remarks, he focused on the platform of his campaign being – affordability; local infrastructure; the environment and climate change. He was the only candidate throughout the evening to mention a local issue – bringing the LRT to Stittsville.
On the subject of the prevention of violence against women, the first question of the evening, it was agreed by all candidates that various factors reflect in the situation but all voiced that shelters are needed; the social context needs to be considered; and the system requires more stringent action.
When asked about their experience outside of politics and community involvement, Kevin indicated he has been involved in ‘Round the Campfire’, is running because children can’t vote for grandchildren to come, grew up here and wants to represent us. Chris said that he has worked local jobs, is a local musician, has performed missionary work, coached hockey and has been an election scrutineer in places such as El Salvador. Gordon responded by saying he is an engineer, was a physics teacher, taught learning-needs children, is a beekeeper and that working hard is good, but government must work smart. Pierre noted that he is involved in charitable work with Harvest House that works with persons with severe addictions and for which he has raised $10,000, the Children’s Aid Society and promotes the affordability of children playing sports.
The environment and climate change played a large part in the questions asked. All candidates emphasized the need to act now as costs would be higher the longer the wait to action solutions. Kubanek referenced the fires in Slave Lake and Fort McMurray whereby Fort Mac ignored the report after the Slave Lake fire and it cost the Fort Mac community, he personally has gone fossil free, Canadians have to make changes to homes and transit. Poilievre iterated government has to act intelligently and inferred that the carbon capture storage should not be financed through taxes, looking at a transit tax credit, environment issues would be handled through a tax-based approach that is easier to administer, his party would provide a +$20K/year program that would be claimed on income taxes with a 20% return rate from a list of items eligible to be claimed. Hua referred to the Paris Accord and meeting its targets, refit homes to become green, time to clean-up. Rodgers asserted it was time to strike a balance, the carbon tax rebate program is market based and cost effective, 8 of 10 families receive more money, greening small business and introduction of a program to green your home and eligible landlords for rental units, his party proposes a $40K interest-free loan for refitting to green and a $5K grant for new homes.
Carbon tax was another issue addressed and debated at length, along with paying down the debt, homelessness, and abortion. When asked about abortion, the four candidates provided very short responses – Pierre, will not open the abortion debate – it is legal now and will remain so; Gordon, same as the Tories, but with a time limit; Chris, it is a women’s right to choose; and, Kevin would defend the women’s right to choose.
Responses to paying down the debt of $16 billion in interest were met with mixed solutions. Hua indicated that the off-shore money should be brought back to Canada with CRA playing a part and also that the government has to invest in people; Poilievre emphasized that with the newly announced debt interest costs would accumulate to $2.5 billion and his party would balance the budget in five years time. Kubanek said that Canada has the lowest GDP in the world that happened during the Paul Martin/Jean Chrétien leadership of the country, but that his party would concentrate on the environmental debt. Rodgers iterated that Canada must invest in the future – telecom, transportation and infrastructure, cannot nickel and dime our kids and grow the economy.
In the final wrap-up, Rodgers indicated that Canada is at a crossroads and the world a huge challenge, but that the Liberal party would address the concerns with confidence. Hua stated that the NDP are appealing to the anger and frustration of the people and that there needs to be a change in how politics is done, that the party has a vision of hope. He indicated that he is the alternative and to ‘watch out for the little guy with the big idea!”. Poilievre said that Canada can’t continue to put the debt on the credit card, that the Conservatives paid off $10 billion dollars of debt in the late ’90s and early 2000’s. The party has a realistic costing plan for Canadians to keep more money and everyone with a dream to get ahead can achieve it. Kubanek that Canadians are moving from normal to the future, the Greens are pragmatic. The Green party would pose a referendum on climate change and he would deal with homelessness, drugs and mental health. He ended with a quote from Greta Thunberg’s address on climate change to the Assembly of the United Nations.
Louise Beggs thanked those who attended and reminded everyone to vote.
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