Wasaga Beach: Sparks Fly At Simcoe-Grey Debate
April 23, 2011 3:21 PM
Region: Ontario Topics:
By Amy MacPherson (Wasaga Beach, Ont.)
It was standing room only – as far back as the foyer, where the late crowd could only listen by loudspeaker. Electricity could be felt amongst the candidates, so tangible even a light exploded! The audience was a tad unruly, although entertaining with their hoots, hollers and odd heckle for good measure. Simcoe-Grey [voters] are vocal participants in their politics.
Instead of characterizing and paraphrasing, I’d like to share some of the more pointed moments with video. It helps that we have a supply of political Hollywood in our riding, but I think the mood and personalities all do a wonderful job of speaking for themselves.
Conservative (CPC) candidate Kellie Leitch tested constituents with the party line on coalition governments and took a dig at her opponent, Helena Guergis (Independent Conservative) about who was the real deal. The audience offers its opinion on negative attacks in our debates, though.
Helena Guergis, embattled by bitter and false attacks on her reputation, was admirably poised in her response about mistakes and forgiveness.
The night included a hotbed of issues, including abortion and women’s rights. Jace Metheral of the Green Party was charming and witty, surely winning best quote of the night. When questioned on age and experience he offered the he was “only 22 and had the least time to be corrupted”! Everyone laughed heartily, but when confronted on the topic of pro choice his answer seemed to waiver.
The recession impacted the Georgian Bay area so severely that we lost a vast majority of all factory work, never to be replaced. This led to questions regarding the different party strategies to help struggling families. Responses were wide ranging and in some cases went beyond the party line.
Liberal Alex Smardenka believes the Competition Bureau should play a great role in alleviating the family burden:
NDP candidate Katy Austin believes the solution involves caps on credit card interest and chastises Smardenka for comparing family struggle to the cost of golf magazines:
Conservative Kellie Leitch wasn’t shy on using the family to invoke the coalition argument again. Still the audience remained unmoved.
I was perplexed there were no questions asked about poverty or affordable housing. Instead there seemed to be much ado regarding illegal immigrants for some reason. Independent Conservative Helena Guergis melded immigration with bringing seniors back into the workforce.
Jace Metheral of the Green Party, used the issue as a segue into affordable housing by contrast. He was the only candidate to broach the idea of a national housing strategy.
The NDP’s Katy Austin was also alone in mentioning the word poverty, sadly. She bravely addressed the gap between rich and poor, challenging the strategy of corporate tax cuts. With emphatic quotes from both Jesus and Robin Hood, Ms. Austin managed to solicit a joyous round of applause.
The event started out with a big bang and as you can see there was a regular exchange of mortar for the duration. You’re welcome to visit thisYouTube channel to view the full menu of Simcoe-Grey debate clips, but please be forewarned the audience felt like this by the finale: