With over 150 in attendance at the Cyril Clark Lecture Theatre in Brampton, a lively debate unfolded with candidates vying for 5 seats in the coming federal election on October 19th.
The unique debate format positioned the candidates of the same political party together. Any of the candidates in the party responded to questions or provided rebuttals in the allotted time. This format enabled candidates to showcase their individual strengths and the platform of the party, respectively. The goal of the debate organized by Brampton Focus was to engage residents in making an informed choice. Panelists took the opportunity to ask predetermined questions to each of the parties and their candidates. Questions asked were submitted by both residents and audience members present with a heavy focus on local issues.
Brampton’s conservative candidates were no shows and it did not go unnoticed.
— Fazal Khan (@FazalGTA) September 18, 2015
— Sylbert (@ImSylbert) September 19, 2015
— Divyesh Mistry (@_DivyeshM) September 19, 2015
— Steven Lee (@SLee_OT) September 19, 2015
— Radha Tailor (@radhatailor) September 18, 2015
During the introductions snickers were heard in the audience after the Conservative candidates were announced with an empty table. Below is a little taste of what unfolded throughout the evening. The full debate can be viewed here.
Brampton’s population is expected to grow to 300k in 15 years, but Canada has a massive deficit, how do you then deal with this?
The debate started off with a first question that was put to the Green party. They indicated that the Green party would implement an establishment based formula, followed by law. They noted that Brampton is currently underfunded due to the explosive growth and would look to remedy that.
Martin Singh of the NDP rebutted by saying that we need more money and it needs to be supported by both levels of government and funnelled here.
Raj Grewal from the Liberals rebutted indicating the Trudeau Government would invest 6 billion in transit in Brampton which would create more jobs. In order to achieve this they would need to carry 3 modest deficits to fix the deficits created by the current Conservative Government.
Do candidates have a role to play in bringing local issues national? What would you do to make this happen?
The second question went to the NDP. The NDP responded by saying, half a cent on each dollar on gas taxes should be forwarded to municipalities. They also want climate change, greener energies and technologies, but this question was not given a direct answer.
Grewal rebutted indicating that the Liberal Caucus members, led by Trudeau, will only be required with the cabinet on three different measures including those that implement the Liberal electoral platform. The libs also indicated that a democratic reform would empower MPs.
Adaoma from the NDP mentioned that the best way for local issues to be advanced is for candidates to be consistent advocates. The Green party rebutted that there would be no policy of whipped votes and would be best able to push the issues of their constituents.
How do you turn the current issues of unemployment around for young people; recent grads who can’t find jobs?
Question three was to the Liberals. Ruby Sahota responded with the Liberal plan that would end youth unemployment by investing 1.3 billion over three years to create jobs and opportunities for young people. The plan would create 40,000 youth jobs and invest $300 million in a renewed youth employment strategy. The NDP suggests investing more in small businesses.
Is the low tax budget enough to get us through?
Question four was to the Conservatives about calling an election during a recession and if the low tax budget is enough to get us through these tough times. The Conservatives were not present to provide a response. NDP rebutted that 400,000 manufacturing jobs leave Canada each year and we are dealing with a recession that’s been the worst since World War II By diversifying the economy and providing tax breaks to manufacturing investors and helping small business by reducing taxes by 2%. The Green rebuttal; lowering taxes is not working, as the corporate tax rate is the lowest in the industrial world and increasing it to 19% would help reduce cash hoarding.
Who would you side with if your constituents and your party clash?
Question five was directed to the NDP. Martin Singh responded saying that there would be a clash with the views of his party and his constituents, as they would agree with the views of the NDP and his own views. Ruby Sahota said they would voice the opinions of their constituents, even if it meant going against a party vote, as Justin Trudeau will be creating a fair and open government. The Green candidates also mentioned that they would listen to their constituents before voting.
How will national childcare be implemented to help Bramptonians?
The Green candidates indicated that they would bring forth a national guaranteed livable income to ensure that no person’s income falls below what is necessary for health, life and dignity. They would also implement a federal minimum wage of $15/hour to help pay for childcare. This can all be achieved by increasing corporate taxes to 19%.
The NDP also said they would like to bring the minimum wage up to $15 to make childcare affordable and allow people to work.
The Liberals plan to increase cutbacks given to millionaires and invest in the middle and lower class to pay for childcare.
What is you position on the CBC and it’s importance?
If elected the Liberals would support the CBC by reversing cuts. The Greens indicated that they would fund half of the CBC, but did not indicate their exact course of action. Amarjit Sangha from the NDP believes the CBC should be saved but run independently.
Where do you stand on the racial carding of young people and how do you create change?
NDP indicated that listening to the community, and nurturing a diverse perspective is crucial. You can’t truly advocate unless you live the experience. They believe that carding needs to end, but were not clear about how this will be done.
Liberals and Green say carding needs to stop; again, no indication of exactly how they plan to do this.
How would your party help balance the budget?
NDP indicated their history of balanced budgets but did not give a clear indication of how they would do this.
The Liberals plan to invest in order to get out of a recession and would need to run three deficits before being able to balance a budget and bouncing back from the mistakes of the Harper government.
A full recording of the debate is available here. Get out and vote on Oct 19th.
Candidates In Attendance:
Ruby Sahota – Brampton North,
Ramesh Sangha – Brampton Centre, and
Raj Grewal – Brampton East
Adaoma Patterson – Brampton West
Rosemary Keenan – Brampton Centre
Amarjit Sangha – Brampton South
Martin Singh – Brampton North
Harbaljit S. Kahlon – Brampton East
Karthika Gobinath-Brampton West
Shaun Hatton – Brampton South
Pauline Thornham – Brampton North
Saul Bottcher- Brampton Centre, and
Kyle Lacroix – Brampton East
Missing from the debate were all Conservative Candidates from Brampton (Parm Gill, Ninder Thind, Kyle Seeback, Naval Bajaj, Bal Gosal) and Liberal candidates (Sonia Sidhu (Brampton South) and Kamal Khaira (Brampton West)