The four candidates vying to represent South Shore-St.Margaret’s met Tuesday for what will likely be the only debate this campaign.
The event, organized by the Bridgewater Chamber of Commerce, was hosted at the Best Western in Cookville.
Candidates Olivia Dorey with the NDP, Liberal Bernadette Jordan, Conservative Rick Perkins and the Green party’s Thomas Trappenberg took turns answering five questions provided to them in advance by the chamber.
Questions focused on the housing crisis, healthcare, the environment, infrastructure and support for small and medium-sized businesses.
All candidates see a role for the federal government in increasing housing stock, providing more funding to provinces to address healthcare shortfalls, protecting the province’s coastline from sea-level rise and ensuring smaller businesses survive and thrive through the pandemic.
Naturally, how those aims are achieved vary widely along party lines.
The evening was a relatively tame affair punctuated by jabs between the PCs Perkins and Liberal Jordan.
Perkins took aim at Jordan and the Trudeau government’s record while Jordan poked holes in the Conservative platform.
The Greens’ Trappenberg took all parties to task and called for government to look for new ways of solving problems while the NDP’s Dorey highlighted the fact that at 27 years old, she was a generation younger than the other candidates and would be feeling the brunt of the decisions made by whomever is elected for much longer.
After the candidates were through the pre-arranged questions the moderator opened the floor to the public.
When asked when Canadians could expect to see a return to balanced budgets, Perkins says the Conservatives have a plan to do so in ten years. Jordan said the priority for the country is getting through the COVID-19 recovery not balancing the books. Trappenberg said now is the time to invest and Dorey cautioned people to temper their expectations, as there is no way to balance the books in the next ten years.
All candidates agreed more supports should be extended to veterans, especially those dealing with PTSD. They also agreed conversion therapy should be banned, more should be done to prevent gender-based violence and increasing immigration needs to be a priority to fill vacant jobs and grow the population.
The candidates reinforced their talking points in their closing arguments. Jordan stepped off-script to comment on the level of anger on display in this election, citing the rock throwing incidents and verbal assaults being lobbied at Justin Trudeau. She says she and her campaign workers have had similar experiences campaigning in this riding.
This was the only time all four candidates were scheduled to engage in a public forum together prior to the election.
Voters will go to the polls Sept. 20.
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