The Wetaskiwin and District Chamber of Commerce had plenty to digest Sept. 28 as the organization hosted a federal candidates forum during the regular luncheon meeting.
It was almost a full house at the Best Western Wayside Inn meeting room as candidates from the Green Party, Liberal Party, NDP and Conservative Party presented their platforms, took jabs at each other and answered a few questions from members.
Chamber executive director Judi Best welcomed everyone to the lunch and explained candidates would be strictly timed to ensure everyone was treated fairly. Candidates are listed below in the order they spoke.
Conservative Party’s Mike Lake
Lake noted that the new riding, Edmonton-Wetaskiwin, was created out of recent redrawing of electoral maps. He stated it’s always been his dream to represent the area he grew up in. “Very comfortable and very familiar with this entire area,” said Lake.
He said, as incumbent, an important thing is to keep connections with constituents. To that end Lake said he hosted over 300 regular round table meetings to get feedback. “Something that’s a regular practice of mine,” he said.
Lake told guests he is not only an experienced MP, but has done parliamentary secretary work and sat on the cabinet committee to balance the budget.
Liberal Party’s Jacqueline Biollo
Biollo introduced herself as an experienced municipal council member from the Beaumont area who is running for the Liberal Party. She said she has an enthusiastic nature that compliments the goal of real change.
She listed off a number of goals the Liberal Party has, including brining changes to immigration policy with compassion and improving the economy through a wide-ranging strategy.
Biollo noted the Liberal Party realizes the federal government touches Canadians’ lives at many levels and the party has a prudent plan to invest in voters.
Green Party’s Joy Hut
Hut described herself as a small business owner from Leduc. She said she often hears people claim that the Green Party, of which she ahs been a long-time supporter, is just a single-issue party.
Hut said that’s not true. She said the Green Party has a broad spectrum of policies that aren’t limited to just environmental stewardship. Also, Greens don’t have a party whip, so MPs would be free to vote their conscience.
Besides a strong, responsible member of parliament, Hut said a Green representative also offers something Canadians need: a valid, democratic alternative. She said Green adds an alternative to try to get the 40 per cent of Canadians who don’t vote to show up on election day.
NDP’s Fritz Bitz
Bitz said she is running for the NDP because she wants to make sure the country isn’t held hostage by one industry. She described herself as a small business owner, a volunteer and a healthcare professional.
She said the NDP offers new ideas for the environment, First Nations, immigration and an “intact democracy that allows and encourages discourse, transparency and accountability.”
Bitz said she is familiar with the MGA and the Mental Health Act, so she understands how government works and wants to help the NDP help Canadians. “The Conservative plan we have been living under has failed,” she said.
The NDP candidate said she is worried about seniors and war veterans being left behind and that Canada’s international reputation is in tatters. Both the CBC and Canada Post have been, at best, ignored. “This election is about change,” she added.
Question and answer
The audience was then invited to ask candidates questions. Each question was to be directed at a specific candidate.
Question topics included pipelines, refugees, the environment, the CBC, childcare, foreign competitiveness, climate change, non-profit support and local government.