Issues take centre stage at debate

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

Key issues took centre stage Monday night as close to 250 people gathered in Waterdown District High School for Flamborough's only all-candidates debate. The Flamborough Chamber of Commerce sponsored the event, which saw few sparks fly but elicited frank discussion on federal party stances on a wide range of topics.

Topics of contention that emerged during the two-hour debate included protection of Canada's single-tier healthcare system, national unity, the burden of education costs, U.S.-Canada relations, guns and violent crime, government action on poverty and protection of family farms. Some citizens did direct pointed questions at Liberal candidate Russ Powers and Conservative David Sweet, but the focus remained, for the most part, on issues of concern to the electorate.

Carlisle resident Stan Haworth asked the candidates what steps their parties would take to defend the Canada Health Act to prevent the proposed opening of three private healthcare clinics in Ontario later this year.

Powers, the first to respond, said, "I, personally, do not support the introduction of private healthcare." Haworth tried to extract a more definitive answer, but was unable to engage in a two-way exchange with the candidate because of the format of the debate.

Green Party candidate David Januczkowski said his party would stop private clinics by enacting the notwithstanding clause of the Canadian Constitution and would impose fines on those opening clinics. The Conservatives stand behind publicly-funded healthcare in Canada, Sweet said, while NDP candidate Dr. Gordon Guyatt said his party is willing to enact legislation to prevent the establishment of private clinics.

Views were also expressed by Independent candidate Ben Cowie and Marxist-Leninist Party representative Jamil Ghaddar. At the start of the meeting, which was originally to include only representation from the four main political parties, a vote by the audience resulted in the McMaster University students being allowed to participate in the debate.

Cowie pointed out that "the government is not the enemy" in the healthcare clinic controversy, but rather those who set up the clinics. Ghaddar blamed NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) for putting Canada's healthcare system in jeopardy.

A question on national unity evoked varying views. Januczkowki said the Green Party "would recognize a clear answer to a clear question" if another referendum on Quebec's separation from Canada takes place. Cowie suggested that the "fundamental values and freedoms" shared by Canadians should help prevent separation.

"Francophones are a nation" and government should recognize that, Ghaddar stated. Going out on a limb, Powers suggested that "the problem is politics" and that national unity must be discussed in an open forum by all Canadians.

Guyatt maintained that Canada's healthcare system is "a key social program that holds us together," while Sweet suggested "fiscal imbalance" is the driving force behind Quebec's discontent with Canada.

In answer to a student's plea for lower education costs, Guyatt said the NDP will invest $2.5 billion to assist post-secondary education. Powers talked about a new Liberal initiative to provide up to $3,000 to help students pay tuition fees during their first and last years of university; the same amount of financial support will be provided throughout university to low-income students.

Ghaddar countered that, "all levels of education should be free." Sweet said a Conservative government in Ottawa would invest in the trades to help young apprentices get started and would also raise the threshold for student loans to post-secondary students.

Freezing tuition fees and working with universities to come up with better funding models would be supported by the Green Party, Januczkowski said, while Cowie stressed the need for a new education strategy that would reduce tuitions.

On the thorny issue of Canada-U.S. relations, Ghaddar advocated that Canada withdraw from the free trade agreement, as well as NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and NORAD (North American Aerospace Defence Command). Acknowledging the importance of good trade relations with the U.S., Sweet said a special envoy would be appointed by the Conservatives to concentrate on trade issues.

Guyatt called for correction of the subsidies imbalance which puts Canadian farmers at a disadvantage to their American counterparts and chastised the Conservatives for wanting to re-open negotiations with the U.S. on missile defence in outer space (Star Wars).

"Free trade is not fair trade," Januczkowski stated, suggesting that Canadians need to become more self-sufficient. Powers, most likely alluding to Canada's recent softwood lumber dispute with the U.S., said it's important "to be civil with our neighbours, but we don't have to agree with them all the time." He also reiterated his government's unwillingness to re-open Star Wars talks.

The issue of guns and violent crime drew assertive responses from most candidates. Guyatt, Powers, Sweet and Januczkowski all spoke of tougher measures to deal with violent crime, including stiffer penalties and mandatory minimum sentences for those who use guns while committing crimes.

Cowie suggested that education be used as a tool to prevent violent crime, while Ghaddar expressed personal doubts about whether violent crime is actually on the rise. She intimated that reports of increased violent crime could be "a big ploy to promote increased police presence in our community." The need to address the root causes of crime, such as poverty and substandard housing, were also mentioned as important preventative steps by Guyatt and Januczkowski.

Asked about their commitment to the vulnerable and poor in society, the candidates proposed various measures. Sweet said the Conservatives' plan for an annual $1,200 child care allowance will help, as will its pledge to cut the GST by two per cent.

The NDP would help by providing affordable public housing and increasing the child tax benefit to $1,000 per child, Guyatt said. Powers said the Liberals have invested $12 million into housing and there is a need to change clawbacks that are hurting the poor.

"Money is being sucked away from people in need," Ghaddar said, adding that past Canadian governments are "unwilling" to tackle the problem of poverty. Januczkowski said the Green Party would attack poverty by investing in low-income housing, supporting Early Childhood Education programs and revising the Unemployment Insurance system.

Noting that the average age of a farmer in Ontario is 57, Rockton area resident Kathy McMaster asked candidates how they would encourage young people to take up farming.

Cowie said the only way to attract a new generation to farming is to make it economically viable. Sweet agreed that sustainable farms are needed to attract young people to agriculture and spoke about the need for "a new philosophy on food" and "safe and sufficient food."

Farmers need assurances from government that they will be supported by the establishment of "a level playing field" and provision of emergency funds, Guyatt said. Powers acknowledged that farmers need immediate support and pointed out that they contribute $1.4 billion annually to Hamilton's economy.

Reconnecting people in cities with farmers is a goal supported by Januczkowski. The Green Party also supports organic farming that can be more profitable.

While candidates and citizens asking questions adhered to a tight timeframe for the debate, the format allowed for a greater range of topics to be covered. Area residents who missed the action can watch the debate on Cable 23 this Saturday at 10 a.m.

Issues take centre stage at debate

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

Key issues took centre stage Monday night as close to 250 people gathered in Waterdown District High School for Flamborough's only all-candidates debate. The Flamborough Chamber of Commerce sponsored the event, which saw few sparks fly but elicited frank discussion on federal party stances on a wide range of topics.

Topics of contention that emerged during the two-hour debate included protection of Canada's single-tier healthcare system, national unity, the burden of education costs, U.S.-Canada relations, guns and violent crime, government action on poverty and protection of family farms. Some citizens did direct pointed questions at Liberal candidate Russ Powers and Conservative David Sweet, but the focus remained, for the most part, on issues of concern to the electorate.

Carlisle resident Stan Haworth asked the candidates what steps their parties would take to defend the Canada Health Act to prevent the proposed opening of three private healthcare clinics in Ontario later this year.

Powers, the first to respond, said, "I, personally, do not support the introduction of private healthcare." Haworth tried to extract a more definitive answer, but was unable to engage in a two-way exchange with the candidate because of the format of the debate.

Green Party candidate David Januczkowski said his party would stop private clinics by enacting the notwithstanding clause of the Canadian Constitution and would impose fines on those opening clinics. The Conservatives stand behind publicly-funded healthcare in Canada, Sweet said, while NDP candidate Dr. Gordon Guyatt said his party is willing to enact legislation to prevent the establishment of private clinics.

Views were also expressed by Independent candidate Ben Cowie and Marxist-Leninist Party representative Jamil Ghaddar. At the start of the meeting, which was originally to include only representation from the four main political parties, a vote by the audience resulted in the McMaster University students being allowed to participate in the debate.

Cowie pointed out that "the government is not the enemy" in the healthcare clinic controversy, but rather those who set up the clinics. Ghaddar blamed NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) for putting Canada's healthcare system in jeopardy.

A question on national unity evoked varying views. Januczkowki said the Green Party "would recognize a clear answer to a clear question" if another referendum on Quebec's separation from Canada takes place. Cowie suggested that the "fundamental values and freedoms" shared by Canadians should help prevent separation.

"Francophones are a nation" and government should recognize that, Ghaddar stated. Going out on a limb, Powers suggested that "the problem is politics" and that national unity must be discussed in an open forum by all Canadians.

Guyatt maintained that Canada's healthcare system is "a key social program that holds us together," while Sweet suggested "fiscal imbalance" is the driving force behind Quebec's discontent with Canada.

In answer to a student's plea for lower education costs, Guyatt said the NDP will invest $2.5 billion to assist post-secondary education. Powers talked about a new Liberal initiative to provide up to $3,000 to help students pay tuition fees during their first and last years of university; the same amount of financial support will be provided throughout university to low-income students.

Ghaddar countered that, "all levels of education should be free." Sweet said a Conservative government in Ottawa would invest in the trades to help young apprentices get started and would also raise the threshold for student loans to post-secondary students.

Freezing tuition fees and working with universities to come up with better funding models would be supported by the Green Party, Januczkowski said, while Cowie stressed the need for a new education strategy that would reduce tuitions.

On the thorny issue of Canada-U.S. relations, Ghaddar advocated that Canada withdraw from the free trade agreement, as well as NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and NORAD (North American Aerospace Defence Command). Acknowledging the importance of good trade relations with the U.S., Sweet said a special envoy would be appointed by the Conservatives to concentrate on trade issues.

Guyatt called for correction of the subsidies imbalance which puts Canadian farmers at a disadvantage to their American counterparts and chastised the Conservatives for wanting to re-open negotiations with the U.S. on missile defence in outer space (Star Wars).

"Free trade is not fair trade," Januczkowski stated, suggesting that Canadians need to become more self-sufficient. Powers, most likely alluding to Canada's recent softwood lumber dispute with the U.S., said it's important "to be civil with our neighbours, but we don't have to agree with them all the time." He also reiterated his government's unwillingness to re-open Star Wars talks.

The issue of guns and violent crime drew assertive responses from most candidates. Guyatt, Powers, Sweet and Januczkowski all spoke of tougher measures to deal with violent crime, including stiffer penalties and mandatory minimum sentences for those who use guns while committing crimes.

Cowie suggested that education be used as a tool to prevent violent crime, while Ghaddar expressed personal doubts about whether violent crime is actually on the rise. She intimated that reports of increased violent crime could be "a big ploy to promote increased police presence in our community." The need to address the root causes of crime, such as poverty and substandard housing, were also mentioned as important preventative steps by Guyatt and Januczkowski.

Asked about their commitment to the vulnerable and poor in society, the candidates proposed various measures. Sweet said the Conservatives' plan for an annual $1,200 child care allowance will help, as will its pledge to cut the GST by two per cent.

The NDP would help by providing affordable public housing and increasing the child tax benefit to $1,000 per child, Guyatt said. Powers said the Liberals have invested $12 million into housing and there is a need to change clawbacks that are hurting the poor.

"Money is being sucked away from people in need," Ghaddar said, adding that past Canadian governments are "unwilling" to tackle the problem of poverty. Januczkowski said the Green Party would attack poverty by investing in low-income housing, supporting Early Childhood Education programs and revising the Unemployment Insurance system.

Noting that the average age of a farmer in Ontario is 57, Rockton area resident Kathy McMaster asked candidates how they would encourage young people to take up farming.

Cowie said the only way to attract a new generation to farming is to make it economically viable. Sweet agreed that sustainable farms are needed to attract young people to agriculture and spoke about the need for "a new philosophy on food" and "safe and sufficient food."

Farmers need assurances from government that they will be supported by the establishment of "a level playing field" and provision of emergency funds, Guyatt said. Powers acknowledged that farmers need immediate support and pointed out that they contribute $1.4 billion annually to Hamilton's economy.

Reconnecting people in cities with farmers is a goal supported by Januczkowski. The Green Party also supports organic farming that can be more profitable.

While candidates and citizens asking questions adhered to a tight timeframe for the debate, the format allowed for a greater range of topics to be covered. Area residents who missed the action can watch the debate on Cable 23 this Saturday at 10 a.m.

Issues take centre stage at debate

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

Key issues took centre stage Monday night as close to 250 people gathered in Waterdown District High School for Flamborough's only all-candidates debate. The Flamborough Chamber of Commerce sponsored the event, which saw few sparks fly but elicited frank discussion on federal party stances on a wide range of topics.

Topics of contention that emerged during the two-hour debate included protection of Canada's single-tier healthcare system, national unity, the burden of education costs, U.S.-Canada relations, guns and violent crime, government action on poverty and protection of family farms. Some citizens did direct pointed questions at Liberal candidate Russ Powers and Conservative David Sweet, but the focus remained, for the most part, on issues of concern to the electorate.

Carlisle resident Stan Haworth asked the candidates what steps their parties would take to defend the Canada Health Act to prevent the proposed opening of three private healthcare clinics in Ontario later this year.

Powers, the first to respond, said, "I, personally, do not support the introduction of private healthcare." Haworth tried to extract a more definitive answer, but was unable to engage in a two-way exchange with the candidate because of the format of the debate.

Green Party candidate David Januczkowski said his party would stop private clinics by enacting the notwithstanding clause of the Canadian Constitution and would impose fines on those opening clinics. The Conservatives stand behind publicly-funded healthcare in Canada, Sweet said, while NDP candidate Dr. Gordon Guyatt said his party is willing to enact legislation to prevent the establishment of private clinics.

Views were also expressed by Independent candidate Ben Cowie and Marxist-Leninist Party representative Jamil Ghaddar. At the start of the meeting, which was originally to include only representation from the four main political parties, a vote by the audience resulted in the McMaster University students being allowed to participate in the debate.

Cowie pointed out that "the government is not the enemy" in the healthcare clinic controversy, but rather those who set up the clinics. Ghaddar blamed NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) for putting Canada's healthcare system in jeopardy.

A question on national unity evoked varying views. Januczkowki said the Green Party "would recognize a clear answer to a clear question" if another referendum on Quebec's separation from Canada takes place. Cowie suggested that the "fundamental values and freedoms" shared by Canadians should help prevent separation.

"Francophones are a nation" and government should recognize that, Ghaddar stated. Going out on a limb, Powers suggested that "the problem is politics" and that national unity must be discussed in an open forum by all Canadians.

Guyatt maintained that Canada's healthcare system is "a key social program that holds us together," while Sweet suggested "fiscal imbalance" is the driving force behind Quebec's discontent with Canada.

In answer to a student's plea for lower education costs, Guyatt said the NDP will invest $2.5 billion to assist post-secondary education. Powers talked about a new Liberal initiative to provide up to $3,000 to help students pay tuition fees during their first and last years of university; the same amount of financial support will be provided throughout university to low-income students.

Ghaddar countered that, "all levels of education should be free." Sweet said a Conservative government in Ottawa would invest in the trades to help young apprentices get started and would also raise the threshold for student loans to post-secondary students.

Freezing tuition fees and working with universities to come up with better funding models would be supported by the Green Party, Januczkowski said, while Cowie stressed the need for a new education strategy that would reduce tuitions.

On the thorny issue of Canada-U.S. relations, Ghaddar advocated that Canada withdraw from the free trade agreement, as well as NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and NORAD (North American Aerospace Defence Command). Acknowledging the importance of good trade relations with the U.S., Sweet said a special envoy would be appointed by the Conservatives to concentrate on trade issues.

Guyatt called for correction of the subsidies imbalance which puts Canadian farmers at a disadvantage to their American counterparts and chastised the Conservatives for wanting to re-open negotiations with the U.S. on missile defence in outer space (Star Wars).

"Free trade is not fair trade," Januczkowski stated, suggesting that Canadians need to become more self-sufficient. Powers, most likely alluding to Canada's recent softwood lumber dispute with the U.S., said it's important "to be civil with our neighbours, but we don't have to agree with them all the time." He also reiterated his government's unwillingness to re-open Star Wars talks.

The issue of guns and violent crime drew assertive responses from most candidates. Guyatt, Powers, Sweet and Januczkowski all spoke of tougher measures to deal with violent crime, including stiffer penalties and mandatory minimum sentences for those who use guns while committing crimes.

Cowie suggested that education be used as a tool to prevent violent crime, while Ghaddar expressed personal doubts about whether violent crime is actually on the rise. She intimated that reports of increased violent crime could be "a big ploy to promote increased police presence in our community." The need to address the root causes of crime, such as poverty and substandard housing, were also mentioned as important preventative steps by Guyatt and Januczkowski.

Asked about their commitment to the vulnerable and poor in society, the candidates proposed various measures. Sweet said the Conservatives' plan for an annual $1,200 child care allowance will help, as will its pledge to cut the GST by two per cent.

The NDP would help by providing affordable public housing and increasing the child tax benefit to $1,000 per child, Guyatt said. Powers said the Liberals have invested $12 million into housing and there is a need to change clawbacks that are hurting the poor.

"Money is being sucked away from people in need," Ghaddar said, adding that past Canadian governments are "unwilling" to tackle the problem of poverty. Januczkowski said the Green Party would attack poverty by investing in low-income housing, supporting Early Childhood Education programs and revising the Unemployment Insurance system.

Noting that the average age of a farmer in Ontario is 57, Rockton area resident Kathy McMaster asked candidates how they would encourage young people to take up farming.

Cowie said the only way to attract a new generation to farming is to make it economically viable. Sweet agreed that sustainable farms are needed to attract young people to agriculture and spoke about the need for "a new philosophy on food" and "safe and sufficient food."

Farmers need assurances from government that they will be supported by the establishment of "a level playing field" and provision of emergency funds, Guyatt said. Powers acknowledged that farmers need immediate support and pointed out that they contribute $1.4 billion annually to Hamilton's economy.

Reconnecting people in cities with farmers is a goal supported by Januczkowski. The Green Party also supports organic farming that can be more profitable.

While candidates and citizens asking questions adhered to a tight timeframe for the debate, the format allowed for a greater range of topics to be covered. Area residents who missed the action can watch the debate on Cable 23 this Saturday at 10 a.m.