Five for fighting

Dave Mathieson
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Federal byelection candidates square off in last open forum before voters go to the polls

Five for fighting

AMHERST - With the countdown continuing to Monday's byelection Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley candidates took to the airwaves last night during a two-hour debate organized by the Amherst Daily News and CKDH Radio.
Candidates present at the forum were the Green Party's Jason Blanch, Christian Heritage Party candidate Jim Hnatiuk, the NDP's Mark Austin, the Conservative' Scott Armstrong and Liberal Jim Burrows.
Independent candidate Kate Graves was not present.
Issues the candidates focused on were the economy, the environment, Afghanistan, Tourism, H1N1, emergency room closures and rural communities.
On the economy, it was Armstrong who came out strong in favour of government intervention.
"Every community has projects that can be funded by the federal government and we have to access those funds," said Armstrong.
Burrows told Armstrong that economic development has to be built upon the sustainability of real jobs. Armstrong agreed but added.
"This is worst economic recession since the great depression and almost everybody has projects ready to go and we have to work to make these projects go ahead."
Hnatiuk was concerned about the rising debt.
"We have other ways to fund infrastructure without increasing government debt," said Hnatiuk. "If we implement the Atlantic Gateway Initiative, that would go a long way to creating jobs without asking the federal government for money."
One of the main environmental concerns was rising sea levels and the effect they'll have on communities such as Advocate.
"I'm sure the people of Advocate are happy we finally got a byelection so the Harper government will address the issue," said Burrows.
Austin had visited Advocate yesterday and said a non-partisan committee needs to look at the issue of rising tides.
On the topic of climate change Blanch asked why the other parties voted against bill C-11, which was designed to meet climate change targets.
Hnatiuk didn't deny that the climate could be changing but questioned whether or not it was caused by humans.
Blanch countered by saying, "11 of the last 12 years have been the hottest on record."
The candidates also diverged on the topic of Afghanistan.
Armstrong said he supports the current resolution to pull out by 2011 but noted:?"Today in Afghanistan women can go to school and we have women sitting in government in Afghanistan. Real progress has been made."
Austin would like to see Canada pull out.
"We need to end our combat role. We need firm committments for withdrawal," said Austin. "The best way to honour our veterans is to use the billions of dollars we've spent in Afghanistan to help rebuild our legions."
All candidates implored voters to get out to vote.
"In Afghanistan, people risk their lives for the opportunity to vote and are proud of their purple-stained fingers," said Hnatiuk.

Organizations: Amherst Daily News, Green Party, NDP

Geographic location: Afghanistan, AMHERST, Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley Canada

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Recent comments

  • Sebastian
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    Re the short discourse on Afghanistan, global affairs:

    These are adult men running for public office. The degree of ignorance and/or naivete is astounding. Pitiful.

  • Fred
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    Just wondering when Scott Armstrong is going to speak for himself instead of sounding like one of Harpers Puppets..I also wonder what he would do if he were put in the same situation as Bill Casey was. Strike that, I KNOW what he`d do. He`d read from the party line as usual.

  • Doug
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    Moriarty, are you the same guy who admitted to rigging the poll in this paper on election prediction website?

  • douggie b
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    hay doug he is the same guy maybe he should come to one of our meetings at timmies we will let him pay

  • Gizmo
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    im voting green

  • Moriarty
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    .....................I can forgive Chris for thinking it's a 2 way race between the NDP and Conservatives is!

  • chris
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    The NDP are certainly working these boards...Armstrong was the most sensible and clearly won the debate.

  • Don
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Clearly Mr. Hnatiuk and Mr. Armstrong know NOTHING about that is going on in Afghanistan.

    Mr. Armstrong talks about women being able to go to school and being able to join government. But he doesn't mention that the murder rate for women who choose to go to school or choose to join the government is SKY HIGH. Women are getting killed for this. So most of them are staying home. It did NOT work.

    Mr. Hnatiuk clearly lives in a dream world when he talks about their proud 'purple stained fingers' Sure- they were happy to vote. But we MARKED people who voted. And in turn they are being KILLED by the Taliban if they have 'purple stained fingers'

    Come on guys and read some newspapers. You are supposed to be our choice to LEAD our riding. You need to know the facts.

    We need to safely get out of there yes. But we have to make sure that it is the right time. We can't abandom them after we've done this. We need a REAL PLAN.

    I am disturbed by our Conservative candidate and his constant lack of knowledge. All he says at the debates is that if you vote Conservative we'll give you more money.

    Mr. Armstrong - Stop trying to buy votes with taxpayer money.

  • Davos
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    It doesn't make any difference who wins, there's no benefit in this by-election. Nobody in the opposition parties would have any power, and even if the Conservative wins, Harper isn't about to do any favours for this riding after we supported Casey. This whole thing is a waste of time. Vote for whoever you want, but don't pretend like it matters.

  • Big Al
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Moriarty is ruthless today. Are you trying to rob this comment section of all dignity? That being said, I am afraid I have to agree with him for the first time in my life.

  • Moriarty
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    ......................Mark deifinitely has the chops, the rest aren't cut out for it.

  • Don
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    I sir am a Liberal.
    I used to vote Tory- but then I grew up and realized they don't care about our riding.

    Armstrong was weak at both debates. It was obvious. Where were you? Clearly not there in Truro or listening last night.

  • Debby
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    I heard the debate over the internet last night.

    Mark Austin didn't suggest spending 'billions' on Legions. He said that we could show respect for veterans by restoring their full pensions and the legions.

    Thanks for a good debate format.

  • jubejube
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    First, thank you for broadcasting this debate....better job than the one held in Truro.

    Every candidate had ideas, whether you agreed with them or not, with the exception of Armstrong. He simply kept saying better to be on the government side. Tired old line. Back room organizers do not make good politicians.

    He even borrowed a line from the Hon Brooke Taylor Farmers Feed us All Doesn't this guy have an original thought.

    By the way- where is Brooke- is he endorsing this guy. He has been a bit quiet during this by-election.

  • jubejube
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    ....and I am a life long Conservative...but I cannot vote for Armstrong. Time to end the drama around this riding and elect Burrows.

  • T.B.
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Why does Scott Armstrong think we should still believe it is better to be on the government side with Stephen Harper in charge? Where did that get Mr. Casey? Harper just likes to have people he can walk all over. He didn't care about this riding then, and he doesn't now.

    Look at ridings such as Sackville-Eastern Shore (Peter Stoffer) and Burnaby-New Westminster (Peter Julian): both NDP MP's who have worked dilligently with all levels of government to secure millions in crucial funding for their constituencies. Halifax's Megan Leslie was voted best new MP. They are not suppressed by an overbearing and manipulative party leader and thus are able to do their jobs the right way. Am I suggesting that Jack Layton would be my first choice for Prime Minister? Maybe not, but I respect what he and his team have been able to do at the grassroots level representing their constituents. That is what I believe our riding really needs, someone willing to work their tail off to help improve life in this region. Judging by his track record and credentials, I think Mark Austin is most qualified to be that individual.