September 8 saw the local candidates from Glengarry-Prescott-Russell take the stage to debate issues raised during the past election campaign weeks.
The third question of the session went to Liberal MP Drouin, who was asked why the election was necessary to hold at this time when the Liberals could have continued as a minority government and implemented everything they’re campaigning on through cooperation with the Opposition parties.
Drouin first noted that there have been five provincial elections and one federal by-election conducted safely during the pandemic. He said that although the Opposition parties said they would work with the Liberals to pass legislation, they would do everything they could to slow the House down instead. He claimed the NDP, Conservatives, and Greens alike were delaying Bill C12 for federal climate control measures, and that Canadians deserved the chance to express their vision for the future.
NDP candidate Konstantine Malakos countered that in the last session of Parliament, the Liberals posted several pieces of vital legislation “right in the 11th hour of the Parliament, one after the other after the other, so that they could then campaign on the obstruction of other parties and talk about how they need to be re-elected to enact these things.” Malakos asked why the Liberals didn’t present these pieces of legislation at any point during the last six years, instead of waiting for so long.
Conservative candidate Susan McArthur agreed, and added that if the Liberals were having such a hard time working with the other parties, how did they get $354 billion in spending approved to support Canadians through the COVID-19 pandemic?
Drouin said that the Fall economic statement was passed after the budget was introduced to the House, despite being presented in the Fall. He claimed that this was due to McArthur’s party dragging their feet and presenting delaying motions on purpose.
Malakos argued that the Liberals “got so much legislation through” and passed “the biggest transfer of money from the government to individuals in Canadian history” because the NDP worked with them and also pushed for even higher amounts, including $2000 per month to Canadians and a 75-per-cent wage subsidy. Malakos said the problem is that Liberals don’t like having to work with other parties.
Drouin disagreed, saying that the NDP is claiming credit for the actions of others. He said it was Dan Kelly, the president of the Canadian Federation of Businesses, who asked for the 75-per-cent wage subsidy, and that the NDP agreed with the demand “because it made sense.” He said these measures worked well for the first eight months, but it was time for a change.
Malakos argued the NDP lobbied for an even higher wage subsidy and 75 per cent is what was settled on. He said that the Liberals tried to kill the subsidy and the $2000-per-month benefit when people were still relying on it, so the NDP was forced to fight for an extension contrary to the Liberals’ wishes. Malakos noted that minority governments happen because Canadians want a mix of voices in the House that negotiate with each other.
Drouin then said that the minority government may have worked in the beginning, but it doesn’t anymore. Malakos disagreed, saying the minority government was still working at the time the election was called.
McArthur then redirected the debate to the Liberal platform. She quoted journalist Paul Wells, calling the platform, “A blueprint for incoherence and a lousy government.” She criticized the Liberals wanting to add $78 billions more spending on top of the $100 billion from the last budget, and that didn’t warrant an election now.
The debate turned to the costing of campaign platforms. Drouin said that although the Liberal platform released after the Conservatives, they provided their platform cost figures. He said the cost of the Conservative platform is still unknown. He noted economists don’t see where the three-per-cent growth over 10 years that Conservatives predict is supposed to appear. McArthur said that the Liberals couldn’t conceive of such growth and that growth has flatlined under the Liberal government. Drouin argued that more jobs aren’t needed, rather more labour is needed to fill existing jobs.
Malakos said judging the economy from the point of view of investors doesn’t make sense for most people in Glengarry-Prescott-Russell who don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
In his closing statement, Drouin focused on the lack of a costed platform from the Conservatives, saying three-per-cent growth over 10 years doesn’t make sense without major cuts.