The candidates

The candidates

Candidates address locals at debate

Five parties got their chance to shine in Ladysmith — all vying for your vote to send them to Ottawa.Jean Crowder, the NDP incumbent for Nanaimo-Cowichan, John Koury, Conservative candidate, Brian Fillmore, Liberal candidate, Anne Marie Benoit, Green Party candidate and Jack East, candidate for the Marxist-Leninist Party, were all on hand for an all-candidates debate at Ladysmith Intermediate School.“It’s clear to me this is a very important election,” Crowder said, adding the key issues are the environment, the economy and social services. Crowder said the New Democrats have put in place practical results for this riding.“We are reflecting the values of the people we represent,” she said. “We walk the talk by putting motions forward that reflect their point of view.”Koury’s opening statement centred around the redundancy of the election and the funding this riding has received from his party.“Ladysmith has had exciting investments from the Conservatives in the last couple of years,” he said. “We need to continue to build on those investments.”Fillmore disagreed with Koury.“You’re going to hear over and over how it’s an unnecessary election but it’s the most important election you’re ever going to vote in,” he said.One major issue was how each candidate would build up the local economy.“We just came through one of the worst recessions this century,” Koury said. “We brought in the stimulus package that brought in millions of dollars and we made sure Canada had a strong foothold.”He said Ladysmith has benefitted from federal funding.“We are creating jobs today for tomorrow.”Fillmore, who made the crowd either laugh or guffaw throughout the evening, had qualms about Koury’s claims.“The Conservatives trying to take credit for the current state of the economy is like Yoko Ono trying to take credit for the Beatles,” he said.Crowder said she would like to see raw log exports banned to keep the money from our natural resources close to home.“Good paying jobs are leaving our community and that’s just wrong.”Benoit said the Green Party would also like to see the logs processed here rather than shipping them away.“A lot of our water and our trees are going south and going cheap,” she said. “We’re not getting any benefit from that.”Most of the more than 60 interested residents at the debate were older adults — and each candidate had plenty to offer them.“The Liberals have a firm commitment to increase pensions,” Fillmore said.Crowder explained the NDP’s proposal of raising GIS to help seniors out of poverty and to enact corporate tax cuts for the support of long-term care, home retro fits and caregiver benefits.The Conservatives injected $300 million into senior services, said Koury.“Also, we allowed for income splitting for pensioners,” he said.The Greens would double the national home care policy and increase income support for seniors, Benoit said.First Nation issues were also on the docket.East, arguably the most colourful of speakers, said it was disgraceful how First Nation people are treated.“Canada has billions of money but nothing for the First Nation people, it’s disgusting,” he said. “We should be honouring treaties and winning their support.”All candidates did agree more needs to be done for the First Nation community.After an open mic opportunity, the candidates gave their closing remarks.Benoit wanted voters to give the Green Party a chance.“We’ve never had the chance to be in power, I encourage you to get to know the Green Party.”East was adamant an anti-war voice needed to be added to the mix.“It’s very much a bourgeoise democracy where the elite make all the rules,” he said.Crowder appealed to the practical side of her constituents.“We’ve worked hard to get practical results in Ottawa,” she said. “We’ve proposed practical solutions and are committed to a balanced budget.”Koury said he believes the choice comes down to the Conservatives or NDPs in Nanaimo-Cowichan.“So much needs to be done in this large riding,” he said, pointing to the economy and job creation.Fillmore said his platform is putting families first.The all candidate’s meeting was held Wednesday, April 20 at 7 p.m.The federal election takes place on Monday, May 2.