Federal byelection candidates stage first debate

Sherry Martell
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PUGWASH - Five federal byelection candidates debated some hot-button issues last night here, keeping their responses to a warm, cordial tone.
The all-male panel, minus independent candidate Kate Graves, who was invited but was unable to attend, respectfully answered the moderator's and audience questions avoiding personal attacks on each other's beliefs.
Cumberland-Colchester Musquodoboit Valley candidates present were Jason Blanch, Green Party; Jim Hnatiuk, Christian Heritage Party; Jim Burrows, Liberal; Scott Armstrong, Conservative and Mark Austin, NDP, agreed in principle on a number of issues such as supporting rural communities, improvements to municipal funding, protecting equal access to health care, and aiding small business and farmers.
One question asked of the candidates was what should the government do during the next five years to achieve the neccessary cutbacks in greenhouse gases?
"We have to act now to make sure the next generation has a safe planet to live and grow up on," said Blanch, adding he felt pollution generators should be taxed while taxes on income should be reduced to promote healthy living.
Hnatuik said he felt government should be concentrating on addressing real pollution based on science.
Armstrong said it is important Canada work collaboratively with our neighbour south of the border to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while Austin said reducing the demand on fossil fuels was also important.
Candidates also responded to questions about supporting infrastructure growth in rural communities, the long-gun registry, ensuring sustainable local agriculture, addressing the national debt and health care reform.
"The first priority and first fundamental that has to be maintained is access to health care," said Jim Burrows.
Former MP for the riding Bill Casey was brought into the topics of debate when one of the more than 120 audience members in attendance asked Armstrong how he could have campaigned against Stephen Harper while supporting Casey but is now running for the Conservative Party.
"I wasn't campaigning against the government of Canada, I was campaigning for Bill Casey," said Armstrong.
"He was an outstanding Member of Parliament, he is my friend for 20 years. I think he was one of the best MP's in this country and I was very proud to stand up for my friend Bill Casey."

Organizations: Green Party, Christian Heritage Party, Conservative Party

Geographic location: PUGWASH, Cumberland-Colchester Musquodoboit Valley, Canada

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Recent comments

  • Anderson
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    Mark Austin was there but not there. He wasn't bad but was pushed to the side by stronger personalities.

    There's probably no quote because he didn't really say anything new and wasn't a central part of the debate.

    It seemed like the debate assumed a two-party race between Burrows and Armstrong with Jason coming into it on the force of his personality.

  • Andrew
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    It sounds like the debate was really more of a Q & A, similar to the event organized by the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce during the provincial election. You never get real answers at theses events, the questions are staged, and the answers are (for the most part) scripted to the party platform.

    FYI, they did actually quote Mark Austin in the article, except the quoted him as Martin without giving his party moniker to differentiate him.

  • Skeptic
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    Who is Martin?

    I am a supporter of the NDP candidate. Why is there a quotation from everyone but him in this article?

    Maybe someone who was there can give us a report.

  • Robert
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Have to answer for what Moriarty? If an NDP is sent to Ottawa from here we'll have zero voice in government unless, of course, you include their *unofficialy supported* protesters in the balcony. The NDP, as a government body, is about as efficient in Ottawa as the greens. Send an NDP rep there and we'll get even less than we get now. Everyone knows how flaky Mustache Jack and his cronies are. Aside from protesting and postering they'll never actually get anything done... unless of course you include the odd scrap Harper throws at them to get them to prop him up.

  • Moriarty
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    .............Putting a statement in from the NDP would acknowlege just how popular they are in this campaign.....

    That is the *last* thing the media around here want.

    Of course, after Mark wins, they'll have to answer for it.

  • Joe
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    I was there, and I gota give Mr Armstrong good grades. He did a A+ job reading the speach and answers Mr Harper wrote for him.

  • Bob
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    It seems pretty clear Armstrong is simply a yes man...by identifying so strongly with Bill Casey it makes one wonder why he is a part of the same party that disowned Mr. Casey.

    Why is he running for a party that kicks out those who stand up for their constituents? Answer is pretty simple...he's a yes man.

    In any event none of these guys will do much beyond collect a big pay cheque. None have any vision...just lackeys for the party.

  • norm
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Could you pile that load of bull any higher Mr. Armstrong?You lost all credibility when you told us you can deliver a better level of infrastructure funding,whilst your friend Steven is telling the rest of Canada there are no strings attached.Now you are telling us that you weren't campaigning against the ruling party at the time by trying to take away there seat.I'm sure they cheerfully gave it up for you and your friend Bill,and now will reward you with all kinds of support(sarcastic remark)!.
    Good luck with that,you'll get an office in Hull ,if you manage to get elected,unless they can find one further from the block.Perhaps you and Bill could share office space,should caucus shun you ,for some reason thinking you are an opportunist,not to be trusted??