Published Friday September 17th, 2010
Grass-roots issues at heart of all-party debate
Times & Transcript staff
SACKVILLE - Apart from the occasional low blow, last night's all-party candidate debate for the riding of Tantramar was a model of decorum and proper behaviour.
It was anything but a knock down, fists-flying confrontation as incumbent PC candidate Mike Olscamp, Liberal candidate Beth Barczyk, Green candidate Margaret Tusz-King and NDP candidate Bill Evans shared a platform fielding questions from the nearly 200 young and old assembled at the Mount Allison University's Brunton Auditorium. The debate was moderated by Mt. A political science professor Dr. Tamara Small and was hosted by the Greater Sackville Chamber of Commerce and the Mt. A student council.
The session opened with the four candidates espousing party policies and what they would like to see happen in their riding.
Even the low blows were more in jest than harmful and were directed mainly at the party or the leader.
Not surprising, the concerns were mostly grass-roots issues from agriculture and the challenges facing farms to lobster fishing, health care, support for seniors, education and, of course, roads and infrastructure.
Olscamp chastised the Liberals for rash, reckless and sometimes questionable ventures while in office leading to a huge provincial deficit. It will be up to the Tories to bring balance back in the government and government books, he said. He also keyed on promoting local producers and education from the ground up including post-secondary education, familiar themes with all of the candidates.
Barczyk said the government is working for the future with the party platform for the Sept. 27 provincial elections reflecting that vision.
Tusz-King pointed out that neither the Liberals or Tories championed sustainability and the environment in their campaign platforms, something that is dear to the Green Party.
She also decried the loss of local decision-making with the disappearance of local school boards, hospital boards and others over the years. It's time to decentralize some of the administrations created since and let the communities make their own decisions, she said.
Evans would like to see corporate society pay its fair share with tax cuts going to middle-class working men and women who need it.
He also decried the pension increase and retirement bonus the MLAs voted for themselves, saying they should be ashamed.
In the end, all four acquitted themselves well with each scoring points but no one emerging as a clear winner in the debate.
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