There is no doubt that the all-candidates 'debates' are heating up as
the Election date draws near and is only two weeks away.
The recently held 'debate' in Walkerton drew more than 100 people to the
Victoria Jubilee theatre where candidates from all four parties fielded
questions from the audience.
From questions that pertained to local issues to broader issues,
audience members wanted answers from each candidate and the following
are only a few of the questions and answers.
The first local issue raised referred to the government's divestiture of
airports and, in particular, those that serve smaller, more rural
communities. "Maintaining airports is a large burden for small
community local governments," said one questioner, who continued to ask
if what each party would do to maintain a national airport policy to
support small community airports and what they were prepared to do for
infrastructure programs for community airports.
Conservative (Ben Lobb):
Lobb said that the (C) government has provided support to airports of
all sizes and, since 2006, there have been "... tremendous dollars
spent on small airports to improve runways and surrounding space each
year. Municipalities own the airports and it's their perogative to
put in applications. You don't have to go far in this region
to see the funding that has been provided to small airports."
At this point, the questioner stridently disagreed with the answer and
the candidate (Lobb) asked if this was in fact a debate with audience
"This government has done nothing for airports," said the audience
member, "and no airport in this area has received funding because of the
Green Party (Jutta Splestoesser):
"I honestly don't know our Party's position on small airports or a
national policy," said the candidate, "but I will look into it.
What I can say is that in our municipal election, I looked at the
airport in the municipality of Kincardine and it would have been
$14million for expansion, which is not possible for a small community.
There was a discussion to apply for 'Canada Build' funding and I think
this issue has to be addressed in this riding."
Liberal (Allan Thompson):
"Infrastructure of all kinds is important in any community but
especially important in a rural community where we are not serviced by
other forms of public transit or trains. Therefore, I think local
airports are very important, are a part of our infrastructure.
One of the most significant parts of the platform that Justin Trudeau
has put forward is an historic investment in infrastructure of all
kinds, double what is currently being spent. A Liberal government
is going to turn to communities and ask 'what is most important to you
and what matters to your community?' I would think that having a
well-functioning airport in a rural community is a critical part of the
NDP (Gerard Creces):
"As a former reporter at the municipal level,
I have seen 'bubblegum fixes' and we have to stop doing this.
long-term planning. If added another 'cent' into the gas tax
fund, that money could go back into the municipalities."
The questioning then turned to the broader
issue of the proposed deep geologic repository (DGR) at the Bruce Power
Local resident, John Mann, asked the
candidates if they could answer why two DGRs were being proposed - one
for low and intermediate waste that included "clothes worn by
workers" and another for spent fuel. Mann asked why one DGR
couldn't accommodate both and went on to ask, as he has many times in
the past, about alleged 'secret meetings' between Bruce County Council
and those in the nuclear industry.
Creces said that
there was a difference between the levels - low and intermediate and
high level waste. "Right now, all of it is above ground. It
is a difficult situation but both parties have to be willing to sit down
and talk. In the past, they were talking about shipping steam
generators to Sweden to have them recycled. We should develop that
technology here. People ask that another plan be explored and then
they don't like that plan either. A community vote is the first
and most important step but we have to establish the size of the
community ... is it Bruce County, is it the Great Lakes Basin, or even
wider, is it anyone who draws water from that basin? Both sides
really have to sit down and hash out an agreement. We have to
think about this as high level and that something has to be done.
If this (fuel) is going to be retrievable in the future, then that is
where I want to see the money invested. Why ship to Sweden when we
can build here and recycle and process?"
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"We are a
federation and respect each jurisdiction ... municipal, county and
provincial. The municipality of Kincardine and elected Council
wanted to be a host community for low and intermediate waste with
the support of Bruce County Council at the time, and that support is
still there. All the low and intermediate waste is currently
at the Bruce Power site managed by OPG at the Western Waste
Management facility. The project was approved by Canadian
Environmental Assessment. The community has spoken. The
scientists have spoken. Current Council continues to support
the program. Regarding spent fuel, technology is being worked
on to recycle and CANDU is excited about those opportunities.
As a country with nuclear energy, we have a long-term commitment to
find long-term storage for spent fuel and, hopefully, we find a way
to recycle and re-purpose through technology.
"Why are we
building two DRGs?" said Splestoesser of the Green Party, "because
it was planned. The CNSC, OPG and our local mayors worked
together. How do we get involved? By educating ourselves.
What I keep hearing is that there are too many Canadians and, even
here, local residents who still don't know what it's all about.
There is the DGR (deep geologic repository) and APM (adaptive phase
management) for spent fuel. Over 30 years, five local
municipalities were promised to get paid $35million but the
licensing still has not been given and, whoever is elected, will
have the decision making but we still have a voice. The Green
Party has a position ... there should be no nuclear waste burial in
the Great Lakes basin. Water and nuclear waste do not mix."
it comes to low and intermediate waste there are two things that are
of utmost importance - the continued safety and security of our
communities and the support of nuclear energy as a safe, clean
source of energy and it is the backbone of our local economy.
As to the two-track decision making process for the DGR, I
come back to the central point of our Liberal campaign ...
government has to abide by evidence-based policy making. A
policy was made to go on these two tracks - dealing with low and
intermediate waste first and to deal later on a much longer time
line with the more complicated and vexed question of spent fuel and
can we find a use for it before it comes time to dispose of it in
storage. Government needs to abide by this two-track program
and evidence-based policy making. "
There were many other contentious issues
raised, including the issue of Bill C51 and the stripping of
Southampton resident, Ken Robertson,
said that he supports Stephen Harper who is part of a government
designed to address concerns about
terrorism. "There is
proposed legislation that will see convicted terrorists who have
dual citizenship have their Canadian citizenship revoked ... I think
that is leadership. I ask the Liberal candidate what he thinks and
that these people should remain in Canada."
Liberal (Allan Thompson):
"A Canadian is a Canadian is a
Canadian," said Thompson adamantly. "This is a fundamental aspect of
our country and of our Charter of Rights and our Rule of Law.
If you are born here, as was I, your are a Canadian citizen.
If I make the choice to move to this country and I am admitted to
Canada legally and I am granted Canadian citizenship ... then, a
Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian. If I commit a heinous
crime, I should go to jail and that's where I should stay.
It's our responsibility, whether we like it or not, that if someone
is admitted to this country legally and is a member of our society,
then that person should go to jail. Why should you strip
anyone of their citizenship and deport them to 'god' knows where?
Why would you do that? Why would you send a person back to Iraq or
Somalia or Syria ... for what? To be a Canadian defends a
fundamental principle of our society and when we start creating
second-class citizens, everyone who is not born in this country but
chooses this country, will start looking over their shoulder asking
... am I next? What crime is now going to warrant stripping
Canadian citizenship? ... a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian."
Thompson received wide applause from the
Candidate Lobb disagreed with the Liberal
candidate. "If you are out door knocking, I wouldn't try that line
on residents here in Bruce, you will find out real quick that the vast
majority of people in this riding ... if you have dual citizenship
and you commit an act of terror, you are out of here!
Overall, the debates have obviously began to
heat up and the next one is October 8th in Port Elgin at the PLEX.
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