I attended another candidate’s forum tonight – this one hosted by King’s University College in a more Eastern end of the riding (and more Christian / Conservative). Also, this time Kevin Hunter, the Marxist-Leninist candidate, wasn’t in attendance, so we can’t technically call it an “all-candidate’s forum.” It was fun to watch Hunter, however without him we got through more questions from the leading candidates (who doesn’t want to see Jaffer vs. Duncan one on one?).
So, super quick summaries, who won?
- Linda Duncan: a stronger showing. One Conservative voter did criticize her after for “rolling her eyes” too much; however, it did emphasize when she thought crazy things were being said.
- Rahim Jaffer: he was a lot better tonight. He didn’t use the word “streamline” and cut down on talk about “balance” though.
- Jane Thrall: she had lots of good one-liners again, but in general she stumbled on more questions, and doesn’t seem to have a greater knowledge of Green Party platform.
- Claudette Roy: she still read from her sheets, dodged answers, and tried to appeal to the idea that the Liberals are the natural ruling party of Canada.
Stronger (most to least): Jaffer, Duncan
Weaker: Thrall, Roy
Final quick highlight: Jane Thrall “believes life begins at conception but is not anti-abortion.”
Here’s some highlights (I don’t have as detailed a summary, only 3 written pages instead of 7):
- Jaffer wore a light blue shirt and a Conservative Party wristband, Roy wore a red jacket and Thrall wore a green sweater (all party colours), while Linda wore black and white and an aboriginal (I think) pin.
- Linda brought up “3 empirical studies” that supported the idea that regulation is necessary to promote technological advancement in energy industries.
- After candidates were asked when they would get to giving 0.7% of Canada’s GDP to foreign aid and Jaffer answered that by 2015 we should be there the moderator jumped in and asked “when was 0.7 agreed upon,” to which Jaffer didn’t know and the moderator responded with “I think it was sometime in the 60s.” ZING! Although I didn’t appreciate the slight bias I saw in the moderator against Jaffer – perhaps it would have been better had he got on a couple of the other candidates too.
- If you’re interested in the 0.7 issue: Roy dodged it, Thrall thought we should acheive it ASAP and then go to 1% and Linda would have the NDP reach it within 10 years and also commit more to Africa and triple the current funding to fight AIDS in Africa. Linda also didn’t want to see aid tied to a military agenda and Jaffer mentioned the Conservatives were not counting Afghanistan as foreign aid contributions.
- On electoral reform, Roy didn’t seem to comprehend “Proportional Representation” when she said she supported “representation by population” and noted that PR was not in the Liberal platform.
- Jaffer argued that PR has many “little aspects” to be worked out before we could implement it here, but noted the Conservatives have worked toward an elected senate. He later mentioned that the Reform used to support recalls, which Roy though was overly difficult to acheive.
- The Greens and NDP both support PR and Linda said that it’s an “absolutely absurd system we’re living under.”
- In response to a comment by Linda, Jaffer replied, “I might be a Conservative, but I’m not that bad of a guy. C’mon Linda.”
- On whether Ottawa would overrule the provinces Thrall said: “I don’t think there’s anyway to ‘steamroll’ thr provinces, otherwise the Conservative government would have done it.” Probably her best line of the night.
- She also reassured a disenfranchised voter who was tired of broken promises that “as you may know, the Green Party has not broken any promises.”
- Linda brought up that the NDP objection to C-51 and the stricter regulation of alternative medicines was at first due to the complete lack of consultation that went into the first draft of the bill.
- There was also a genetical modified foods question, and a question about the SPP and the “North American Union.” As well as a lot of questions on how the carbon tax or other measures may affect the economy.
- Thrall had a strong statement in: “if the tar sands are driving the economy, then the government has failed this country.”
- Jaffer quipped at one point: “I wonder in 3 weeks what the NDP is going to talk about when Bush is gone.”
- He also pulled the “Ultimately, the fundamentals of our economy are strong” card.
- Jaffer mentioned improving “air quality” every time he talked about the environment.
- Roy also used the word “tax” as little as possible when talking about the Green Shift – but this is a national Liberal attempt to rebrand a tarnished plan.
- There were a lot of questions about Omar Kadr (the Canadian in Guantanamo Bay) since I guess they had his lawyer speak at the school recently. Jaffer talked a lot about “respecting the American’s sovereignty” while Linda shook her head. Both Jaffer and Linda agreed that individual MPs shouldn’t arbitrarily be calling Kadr’s lawyer though as there are better processes (the first agreement I’ve seen them make!)
- A lot of audience support throughout the debate was behind Linda, almost more so than Jaffer, and this is his turf.
- On the Unborn Victims Act Roy and Thrall would want to see the exact wording before supporting, while Linda called it “ill conceived” and a “backdoor way to define a fetus as a person.” Jaffer voted for the issue and was annoyed that the Conservatives backed away from the bill after pressure mounted since he called the pressure “fear mongering.”
- Further on the issue of abortion, Jane Thrall announced that she believes “life begins at conception” but that doesn’t mean she’s necessarily “anti-abortion.” This echoes Elizabeth May’s comments on how she doesn’t believe in a “women’s frivolous right to choose,” but would not make abortions illegal as it would cause more harm to women (through illegal abortions). This is a shocking statement for a progressive candidate in this riding – although the Green Party is officially pro-choice, how many anti-choice Green MPs would it take before that changed? At what point does the Green party become the Conservatives who (actually) like the environment. Can someone challenge them on this?
- One person near the end wanted two questions (about high speed trains and how they would students afford to buy houses) but was allowed one so he phrased it as “how are you going to use trains to increase the ability of students to afford to purchase homes.” To which Thrall answered: “There a lot of empty railcars…”
- Linda urged that we need better regulation of our rail industry since atrocities, like at Wabamaun Lake, don’t happen again before we heavily invest (which she said we should) in new rail systems.
- To prevent manufacturing companies from making gas guzzlers with increased NDP tax dollars, Linda assured the audience there would be “conditions on tax dollars” unlike the current trends.
- When Jaffer again talked about waiting for the right point in the process to request an expedition of Kadr, Linda quipped: “you have to expedite the kangaroo court?”
- The last two questions were asked by near perfect stereotypes: the first on the legalization of marijuana and the second on the candidates paying more attention to the agricultural sector.
- On pot, Roy claimed “I got our of university in 1968, before it got popular,” and Thrall liked that her leader “had to apologize” for not having tried it. Both Thrall and Roy supported legalization and taxation, while Linda stood by the long NDP policy of decriminalization. However, Jaffer was “not convinced about legalization, but (was) open to debate about decriminalization of small amounts.”
- Finally, on agriculture Thrall supported carbon tax exemptions to farmers and wanted to promote more local farms.