Saturday, 3 October 2015

All candidates meeting

Ah election's just like Christmas! The lead up, the preparations, the decisions, the excitement and then the finale - Christmas Eve - Election Day! Now that we're into October, it really seems like we're building up to a crescendo. The final debate was last night. Our airwaves will now become supersaturated with ads, as we count down to the 19th.

On Thursday night I attended an all candidates debate in my riding of Ottawa Centre. Ottawa Centre goes back and forth between the New Democrats and Liberals. The NDP's Paul Dewar has held the riding for the last nine years. He was the foreign affairs critic for the NDP. Dewar's a fine person and I really hope he gets back in.

We got to the meeting ten minutes before start time but clearly we were too late.The two hundred chairs were already filled and there were maybe a hundred more people who stood for most of the two hour meeting.

It was an entertaining evening. The crowd was, for the most part, very polite. The CBC's Amanda Pfeffer served as moderator and did a great job. She managed to keep things running smoothly with good grace and humour. At one point during the audience questions, she reminded the questioner to choose just two candidates to answer his question. He responded, " Okay I'd like Paul and Catherine and Damian to answer."  To which Pfeffer replied, "Well, we'll put you in charge of the budget."

Near the end of the evening someone asked the candidates to state how their party, if elected, would support the CBC. That question and the responses by the NDP and Liberal, drew a lot of applause. 
Although the audience was polite, at times you couldn't help yourself. There were a couple of occasions when the Conservative, Damian Konstantinakos,  was stating how his government supported the CBC or listened to scientists, when spontaneous ripples of laughter erupted around the room.

One of the most unusual questions of the night went something like this, "Can you tell us which particular policy in your party's platform that you personally do not agree with?" That was a tough one. The Liberal candidate had to answer that one first and to her credit, after some hesitation, she answered that she thought they could do more work on prisons and incarceration. 

A more dramatic question was,"It's been almost a year since the shootings on Parliament Hill. What is your position? Was that a terrorist attack or was that a person with a mental health problem?"  The Conservative candidate was quick to name it a terrorist attack and went on to talk about ISIL. The NDP and Liberal candidates both spoke very thoughtfully about  mental  health challenges contributing to the whole  tragic event.

Most of the audience questions were directed to incumbent Paul Dewar and his main challenger, Liberal Catherine McKenna. They were both very impressive. The Green Party's Tom Milroy was also a good speaker.

This meeting, this riding, reflects the problem right across the country. A majority of people want to get rid of Harper but don't know which way to turn. If only the Liberals and the NDP had banded together. If only they had decided to run either an NDP or Liberal in various ridings. Harper has got to be loving this contest between the two main opposition parties. I hate to think of it, but he could slide back in, because the Liberals were too proud to consider working alongside the NDP.

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