Lively discussion at political forum in Rimbey

Rimbey forum well attended

Only three candidates attended a political forum sponsored by the Rimbey Library at the Peter Lougheed Community Centre Monday night, but the discussion was lively and peppered with more than a few innuendos and barbed comments.

In attendance was Red Deer-Lacombe’s MP Blaine Calkins, Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson, candidate for The People’s Party of Canada and Lauren Pezzella, candidate for the New Democratic Party.

Pezzella, a 24-year-old Red Deer College student, started off the evening with her opening comments.

“Canada is an incredible nation and we deserve every single success. I want to make a difference. No matter who you vote for, get to the polls and vote.”

In his opening statement, Calkins pointed out he is an Albertan, grew up in the County of Lacombe and plans to continue to keep fighting for the people in this constituency.

“The Rimbey area is the best place in central Alberta to live,” he said.

Thompson, who was the final candidate to present opening statements, said she was from British Columbia.

“I’m not from here, but I stand with Albertans,” she said.

Thompson was later questioned as to why she had let her name stand in the Red Deer Lacombe riding.

“Alberta, you are the core of Conservatism and we are in a different world. The People’s Party of Canada stand for what we believe in.

“I’m from here. my family roots have been here for a long time,” noted Calkins.

“This isn’t just another town for me. It is the future for my family,” said Pezzella.

Calkins expressed frustration when addressing the question of rural crime. He said a rural crime force had been established, to address the issue and a private member’s bill introduced.

“The whole thing was white washed and easily dismissed by the government,” he said.

The NDP candidate noted there wasn’t an easy answer to the question regarding rural crime, adding the infrastructure needed to be in place to ensure RCMP presence.

“We need to make criminals afraid again,” said Tyler Thompson. “It’s time to do politics in a different way.”

She said she and Red Deer-Mountainview PPC candidate Paul Mitchell drafted the Property Protection Act which would allow Canadians, particularly those in rural areas, be allowed to use force to protect their properties.

The question of universal pharmacare proved to be a hot topic.

Calkins said universal pharmacare is not the answer.

“We need to find out where there are cracks in the system and fix them. We don’t need to rewrite the program.”

For Pezzela, putting a pharmasave system in place is the answer to many medical inefficiencies.

She noted the NDP have pledged to expand health care to include vision, dental and mental health services and create a universal drug coverage program which would offer free medication and medical devices by 2020.

The PPC candidate said common sense needs to be used when addressing gun control.

“Our firearms policy is excellent. We need new legislation to fight crime in Canada.”

Calkins said the Liberals gun control legislation is frustrating.

“I’m sick of it. Leave law abiding citizens alone. Make no mistakes, this is the first step in confiscating your personal property. The Conservatives will repeal Bill 71.”

The candidates were asked to explain in simple terms what their economic plan was if they were elected.

“Put a stop to interest on student debt,” said Pezzella.”Affordable homes. We need to build up our economy.”

“Reduce taxes, reduce red tape, get rid of carbon tax, export technology, create jobs. We are a bit of a laughing stock on the international market and we need somebody (as Prime Minister) that is grown up. I’ve never been more proud to be a Canadian than when Stephen Harper was prime minister.”

But Thompson disagreed.

“Stephen Harper never got pipelines built, he never addressed equalization,” she said. The PPC will address equalization and eliminate provincial trade barriers.”

The PPC candidate spoke loudly and with obvious fervour about legislation regarding abortion.

“There is no protection for the unborn child,” she said.

She openly criticized Andrew Scheer, the leader of the Conservative Party, for refusing to re-open the debate regarding abortion.

“It hasn’t changed in 14 years,” said Calkins. “Nothing is incongruent with what we’re doing now.”

“It is women’s right to choose and I will fight hell and high water for that. Mothers and families, they need to have the option of using these (abortion) services,” said Pezella.

The NDP candidate said pipelines are not the future of Alberta.

“Oil and gas has provided so much for our families. It has put food on the table for so many families but we will never get the boom and bust cycle we had. We need to have renewable energy jobs for Albertans.”

Calkins believes a Trans Canada energy corridor will help solve issues related to transporting energy in Canada.

Calkins specifically pointed to the mishandling of pipelines in Canada including the Trans Mountain Pipeline, Energy East and Northern Gateway. Calkins believes that the Trudeau Liberals, who purchased Trans Mountain from Kinder Morgan, do not want to see the pipeline built.

“All of this was private sector money. Not a single dollar of taxpayer money was being spent on this other than for regulatory workers,” he said.

Calkins believes a Trans Canada energy corridor will help solve issues related to transporting energy in Canada.

“We will scrap the carbon tax and build an east/west corridor.”

But Thompson said the corridor is eight to 10 years in the making.

“Maxime Bernier and the CCP will impose pipelines. We will have to do it for the good of our country.”

“Why does the taxpayers have to pay for EI,” was another question raised. “It’s too easy to get onto EI.”

“What we really want to do is get back to work,” said Calkins.

While Thompson agreed, the system was not working, Pezzella said it is the worst feeling in the world for someone to lose their job.

Other questions revolved around government spending for media outlets such as CBC, pollution caused by air traffic and fossil fuels.

Other candidates for the federal election in the Red Deer-Lacombe riding are Sarah Palmer of the Green party of Canada and Tiffany Rose, the Liberal Party candidate.

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