Local candidates square off in debate

Local candidates square off in debate

September 8 saw the local candidates from Glengarry-Prescott-Russell take the stage to debate the election issues. Susan McArthur for the Conservatives, NDP Konstantine Malakos, Green Party’s Daniel Lapierre, and incumbent Liberal MP Francis Drouin each made opening statements, and then the questions began. 

McArthur focused on the Conservative plan to balance the budget and lower national debt without cuts to other areas. She said that supercharging the economy is the main goal, with a three-per-cent annual increase in productivity over 10 years, and that Canada will begin leveraging its natural resources to do so. Exporting natural gas, leveraging innovations in architecture and carbon capture, and investing in the domestic and immigrant populations are just some of the ways the Tories propose to increase productivity and the GDP per capita. 

Part of this plan also involves getting people back to work by getting them vaccinated, which starts at removing systemic barriers like mobility issues and disinformation, and by ensuring affordable childcare is available to everyone through a tax credit so parents can tailor childcare plans to their schedules. Another part is setting goals that the country can reach, such as lower carbon emission reductions targets. 

“[Canadians] are sick of having these pie in the sky targets that we can’t quite achieve and haven’t been able to achieve under a Liberal government,” she said. 

Malakos focused on improving Canada by paying attention to how the poorest person in the country is doing instead of the richest. He said Canada should work to lift people out of poverty by lowering the cost of living and increasing benefits, paid for by taxing the private companies who derived profit from the pandemic. Essential infrastructure should not rely on private companies, he said, Crown corporations should handle things like infrastructure, long-term care, and vaccine production. Private companies don’t have Canadians’ best interests at heart, they just want to make more money, which is why long-term care homes are underpaid and understaffed.à 

Malakos also said lowering childcare costs and building more infrastructure will ensure parents can get back to the workforce and raising wages will ensure they can afford a good living. Transferring money for healthcare and expanding healthcare services will take even more stress off families, which means more focus on environmental impact. 

Lapierre sees the pandemic and climate change as warnings from the planet that must be heeded proactively instead of reactionary. He noted the past six years have seen greenhouse gas emissions increase instead of decrease, but added there is no easy quick-fix to the problem. He said the country must stop continuing to invest in oil and gas and pivot to green energy, and build the infrastructure necessary to prepare when that pivot comes. He said Canada must also invest in more childcare infrastructure. 

Drouin spent most of the debate questioning the claims and refuting the attacks of the other candidates, including those concerning the public health safety and necessity of the election. He noted that several provincial elections have been conducted safely during the pandemic, and the federal election is necessary because the other parties refused to cooperate, “dragging their feet” on numerous occasions in Parliament. 

Drouin blamed the NDP for the lack of affordable childcare and he questioned the Conservatives’ costed platform, stating that economists agree that three-per-cent annual growth over 10 years is unrealistic. He also stated that the Liberal government has been investing in public infrastructure in places like Maxville and supporting the provinces for healthcare services, paying for 80 per cent of the bill during the pandemic, and the Liberals plan to invest more to support mental health and equalize healthcare on both sides of the Ontario-Quebec border. 

He disagreed that the Liberals are moving too slow on climate change and green energy, saying they want to put a $170/tonne tax on carbon emissions and electrify the infrastructure to ban gas cars, and he disagreed that long-term care isn’t a federal issue, especially when the Red Cross and the army are called in to help deal with it. 

The full debate can be found on RogersTV’s YouTube page. 

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