Conservative candidate Mark MacDonald

Conservative candidate Mark MacDonald

Election 2015: Candidates meet to make one last pitch to voters

Nanaimo-Ladysmith candidates got a last chance to try to convince voters at the final all-candidates' meeting Wednesday.

Nanaimo-Ladysmith candidates got a last chance to try to convince voters at the final all-candidates’ meeting.

Wednesday’s debate at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre, hosted by the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce, was by far the most well-attended all-candidates’ meeting with more than 600 people in the ballroom.

Questions on any topic were fair game and there was discussion on subjects such as deficits, local job creation, immigration and foreign affairs.

There was quite a bit of back-and-forth on the role of a local Member of Parliament after NDP candidate Sheila Malcolmson said her party’s MPs stand up for their communities first.

“The NDP caucus makes its decision-making based on a consensus model…” she said. “There’s a dialogue and the New Democratic principles are ones that I can stand up with, can stand with, but my first obligation is to you.”

Conservative candidate Mark MacDonald said the last two years, NDP MPs voted 100 per cent with leader Tom Mulcair and predicted Malcolmson would do the same.

“If she gets in, she’s going to toe the party line because that’s what NDP candidates do,” MacDonald said. “They will not represent you, they’ll represent the party.”

Later, he was asked if it was party policy to direct tax dollars to Conservative ridings and said it wasn’t.

“You need to get somebody in there that knows which arm to twist to find the funding … You need to know the right people to talk to, you need to know how to make deals,” he said.

MacDonald contrasted the records of Nanaimo’s outgoing MPs, NDP Jean Crowder and Conservative-turned-independent James Lunney.

“Two-thirds of this riding has been under NDP control for 11 years and has the highest level of youth poverty here in south Nanaimo. I lay that right at the feet of the NDP. We’ve gotten nothing from the previous NDP,” MacDonald said, adding that Nanaimo received funding for a water treatment plant, airport, and the port “because you had an MP in the north part of the city that looked after the whole city.”

“Let me add to that list of Conservative legacies,” rejoined Malcolmson. “Voting in favour of closing down coast guard stations. Voting in favour of eroding fisheries habitat protection.”

Tim Tessier, Liberal candidate, set a tone for the debate when he went on the offensive in his opening remarks.

“Mr. Harper is done. His economy is a mess,” Tessier said. “The rhetoric and his bullying throughout this campaign is disgusting and that’s not the Canada that I grew up in, nor do I want my children and grandchildren to grow up in.”

Regarding the Liberals’ deficit spending plan, Tessier said Canada is 20 to 50 years behind in infrastructure investment and there isn’t enough affordable housing and seniors residences, for example.

“Investing today and paying the bills today when we have record-low interest rates makes sense,” he said. “It’ll spin off and create a whole economy on its own which creates jobs.”

Paul Manly, Green candidate, had different ideas on spurring the economy, starting on Vancouver Island.

“We believe that we need to move away from rip-and-ship primary resource extraction and get it back into value-added…” he said. “Making sure that we get good jobs for our resources and use our knowledge base and our skill base to build a resilient economy.”

MacDonald lauded the Conservatives’ record on the economy.

“Clearly, cutting taxes is working,” he said. “The economy is chugging along just fine, thank you very much.”

Malcolmson disagreed, saying Canadians are feeling a scarcity. She added that there is also a cynicism about government.

“We’ve seen the senate scandal, spending scandals in the news every day and that makes people frustrated about how their tax dollars are being spent,” she said. “The government tells us we can’t spend it on Pharmacare or an inquiry into disappeared women in our community, but instead we see the government bribing us with our own money, spending advertising money on TV to talk about its own record. It’s wrong.”

In his closing statements, MacDonald criticized the Liberals’ deficit-spending plan and the history of provincial NDP governments and cautioned voters.

“While Canada’s economy is stronger than most, make no mistake – the global economy is fragile. We need to stay the course,” MacDonald said.

Tessier urged people to feel good about their vote.

“The lessons I have learned over the past months, the people that I have spoken to, the emotions that I have heard, the tears that I’ve seen, that’s what this is about…” he said. “What solves the problem is some compassion and passion and moving towards a better place.”

Malcolmson got a bit choked up in her closing statements as she related a story from the campaign trail of primary students in Chemainus asking her questions about having food, shelter and family.

“Those were killer questions and they get right at the heart of some hard times in our region, especially the last 10 years,” Malcolmson said. “And they put a fire in my belly again to bring real change to the federal government and real change for and with our region.”

Manly was last to speak and drew the event’s only standing ovation when he told voters they have a chance to “do what a million people across Canada want” and elect a Green MP.

“Everybody’s been talking about change in this country. We have seen radical change in the last nine years and we are going to get our country back,” he said.

The federal election takes place Monday (Oct. 19). Polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.

Just Posted

The Nanaimo Business Awards are accepting nominations now. (Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce image)
Nanaimo Business Awards accepting nominations of worthy winners

This year’s awards aren’t until the fall, but the nomination period ends June 28

Retailers say they’re ready for the ban on single-use plastic checkout bags in Nanaimo when it takes effect July 1. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Retailers report they’re ready for Nanaimo’s single-use checkout bag ban

Business operators say there’s been plenty of time to plan and prepare for bylaw that kicks in July 1

Nanaimo Fire Rescue crews on scene at a boat fire near the boat ramp at Long Lake on Sunday, June 20. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Boat burns up on Nanaimo’s Long Lake, man and child unhurt

Jet skiers attempt to put out fire by circling around to spray water on burning boat

Gabriola singer-songwriter Sarah Osborne, Cowichan Valley duo Heartwood, Vancouver singer Kelly Haigh and Nanaimo bluesman David Gogo (clockwise from top-left) are among the performers in this year’s Cultivate Festival. (Photos submitted)
Gabriola Arts Council presents COVID-conscious Cultivate Festival

Theatre, music and art festival returns to Gabriola Island after 2020 hiatus

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

John A. Read, who was inspired to leave his former career to become a professional astronomer by the purchase of a $13 telescope, will give beginning astronomers key pointers on how to set up and get the best performance from their instruments at Nanaimo Astronomy Society’s meeting June 24. (Photo courtesy Jennifer Read)
Astrophysicist will talk about getting the most out of a telescope at Nanaimo astronomy meeting

John Read’s purchase of a $13 telescope led to a degree in astrophysics and a career in astronomy

Emergency vehicles are parked outside of the Wintergreen Apartments on Fourth Avenue. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni RCMP investigate stabbing on Fourth Avenue

Two men were found with ‘significant’ injuries near Wintergreen Apartments

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

Most Read