Candidates critique party leaders

Matthew Peterson & Erin DeCoste

Black PRess

The dust has settled and the podiums have been stored.

While there are plenty of different takes and opinions about who dealt the harshest tongue-lashing and whose pointed comments pierced their opponents, local candidates vying for a seat in Ottawa all feel their national leaders brought the A-games to the public arena.

Local candidates will have the chance to express their views at an all-candidates debate at Ladysmith Intermediate School from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on April 20.

Conservative MP John Koury said after watching the debates, it was clear to him why he wants the Tories in a majority Parliament.

“People are satisfied with the prime minister in terms of his performance. He is focussing on the big issues, the issues that matter to Canadians,” said Koury.

Koury said Stephen Harper talked addressed the issues of jobs, the economy, low taxes and funding for health care and education, the same issues Koury said he is talking to people about on the doorsteps.

“People understand this election is unnecessary,” he said, adding people are getting fed up with election after election. The 2008 federal election came after Harper asked then governor general Michaelle Jean to dissolve Parliament citing unco-operative attitudes.

Harper came under fire throughout much of debates, especially after a leaked report alleged misspending leading up to and during the G8 Summit last year.

Koury, along with the other candidates feel debates can often get too caught up in mud-slinging and focussed less on the issues.

Koury felt his boss handled the fire well and was able to get his message across.

Current NDP MP Jean Crowder said the party’s leader, Jack Layton, did an incredible job in the national spotlight.

While voting NDP may be a popular choice in many riding across B.C., support Canada-wide is still lagging, but Crowder  noted the NDP has been very active in shaping public policy.

“We’ve played a very strong role in representing the views of the people that live in our communities.”

“I think he outlined our key priorities — health care, the economy, job creation, the environment,” Crowder said of Layton.

“I think he was also able to highlight the differences between ourselves and the Conservatives.”

Crowder said Layton, in the debates, created a clear choice for not just the people of Cowichan-Nanaimo, but all over Canada.

“You can make that choice of a party that wants to re-invest in our communities,” said Crowder.

Crowder said she thought this debate was much better in terms of leaders not trying to talk over each other, but she, too, believes voters would rather hear what the leaders stand for instead of against.

That said, Crowder was also pleased with her boss’ zingers, including the one likening the senate to a prison.

“He’s a pretty funny guy.”

Liberal candidate, Brian Fillmore, said he’s happy with how Michael Ignatieff portrayed the party’s platform.

“He did a great job of getting the Liberal party platform out,” he said, adding that included issues such as family, education, health care and seniors’ issues.

“I think Canadians will be very impressed by Ignatieff’s passion.”

Fillmore said he thinks the debate and Ignatieff’s performance will help him on a local level.

He said Liberals care about a strong economy and helping out the most vulnerable in society.

He said he realizes many people in B.C. have past hurts when it comes to the Liberal Party, but he said he wants people to see the changes.

“Forget about the past and look to the future,” he said. Nanaimo-Cowichan Green candidate, Anne Marie Benoit, said she was disappointed in the debate.

“I think a lot of things were missing,” she said.

The Green party leader, Elizabeth May, was not allowed to participate in the debate — a fact Benoit thinks is undemocratic.

“They talked about Canada looking good abroad, but the debate didn’t look very democratic when May was not there.”

Benoit said the leaders didn’t touch on enough important issues.

“It was so small what they talked about,” she said. “No big issues or projects.”

Benoit said she thinks if May was allowed to participate it might have gone differently.

“She would’ve bought up issues that mattered.”