By Wendy Elliott
Federal election candidates in Kings-Hants explored the issues during a forum Tuesday evening at University Hall in Wolfville.
Liberal Scott Brison, Conservative Rosemary Segado, New Democrat Carol Harris and Green Brendan MacNeill participated in The Kings County Advertiser, Acadia Students’ Union and Eastern Kings Chamber of Commerce event.
Here’s what the candidates had to say on a variety of issues in response to audience questions:
Segado said the Conservatives will promote health because mothers expect that and children at school require education and healthy activities.
She said Canadians need to fear privatization and noted that her party had added $41 billion in new monies after the Liberals had slashed the public system.
Harris declared it is high time the second stage or preventive aspect of Tommy Douglas’ vision for Medicare came into being. “It’s time to stop rewarding illness and fight for holistic medicine.”
She equated better child care with improved health care. Harris also stated that Canada is behind in terms of food security.
MacNeill said Canadians are justly proud of their public health care system. Having volunteered in Africa, he noted that some countries have vastly different health care available to the rich and the poor.
He bemoaned, though, the cost of prescription drugs and said big pharmaceutical companies are reaping huge profits. “It’s time to stop toxic chemicals that are harmful to humans, fund alternative therapies, and fast-track foreign health care professionals into our system,” he said.
Scott Brison stated his support for a catastrophic drug plan. He said due to the lack of physicians in underserved regions, young doctors should be offered $10,000 debt payments as an incentive. “We have a sick care system and we need to recognize that,” he said. The incumbent said he regretted that the Conservatives had failed to proceed on a national early learning and child care system and he slammed Prime Minister Stephen Harper for his stand on youth crime.
MacNeill won applause from the audience by grabbing his lapels and stating he had purchased his suit second-hand at Frenchies.
Segado, who freely admits to her love for shopping, said, “you have to support your own community. It’s the least you can do for small business. They struggle every day.”
Harris suggested, “we must ensure there is something local to buy. That’s why our prime agricultural lands must be preserved.”
She said, go to “family markets, look at labels and do a little ranting. Tell store owners you appreciate made-in-Canada goods.”
Brison said his constituents have seen him shopping locally and “it’s very important to support the local economy.”
He praised the Women’s Institute in Nova Scotia for spearheading the buy local movement and the 4-H organization for its educational efforts.
All four candidates stated their opposition to opening up the province again for uranium exploration and mining.
Support for the military mission in Afghanistan
Brison complained that the Conservative government does not report the facts on the Afghanistan mission to Parliament.
He called for a greater focus on development, education and economic infrastructure then added that the Prime Minister is as likely to live up to his commitment to leaving Afghanistan in 2011 as he was about a fixed election date in 2009.
Segado, who called twice for the moderator to make Brison refrain from gibing her, said she was so proud to talk to the military men and women at Aldershot who showed freedom to a country that has not known it.
She stated, “I have no reason believe that the Prime Minister is not going to keep his promise” about leaving Afghanistan.
According to Harris, the NDP is the only party to consistently call for a non-combat role for Canadian service people in Afghanistan. “We’ve never approved of guerilla warfare in a country where it cannot succeed. It cannot be won. For every dollar that goes toward reconstruction, we spend 10 on conflict.”
MacNeill told the audience of about 800 that his party is in favour of a carbon tax immediately of $50 per ton of emissions. He said the monies would be used for clean technologies and be very transparent.
Brison expects at the rate Canada is going environmentally that the U.S. Congress will attach a tariff on our carbon without a carbon tax in place. He detailed the Liberal Green Shift plan and spoke of the need for ‘green mortgages’ and ‘green homes’ if Canada invests in green technology.
According to Harris, the issue is more complex than her colleagues suggested. “Our feet are to the fire,” she noted. The NDP approves a ‘cap and trade’ program, along with Ontario and Quebec and Europe, where big polluting companies pay.
That fund, Harris noted, will go toward “transit retrofitting, smart cars, ‘green jobs’ and we need those.”
Segado said she did not trust opposing parties to reimburse seniors for heating costs. “I wonder if they’ll be alive to get it back.”
When Brison handed her the Conservative plan for energy, Segado called on moderator Ian Wilks for his intervention.
Taking a stand against one’s party
Harris stated that if elected, she would let her own better judgment guide her voting. “There’s no black and white answer to that” question, she said.
Segado promised to be sincere, loyal and a team player, while MacNeill said he would aim to speak on behalf of his constituents, “to see beyond party politics and work together to get the things we need.”
Brison vowed to “bring the ideas and concerns of Kings-Hants to Ottawa to help shape the national agenda.”
He added that has been his intention over the last 11 years as an elected member. “I’m never afraid to stand up against people like Stephen Harper in defense of our ideas and our values.”
By Wendy Elliott