Whistler candidates trade punches and rhetoric in local debate
Climate, COVID recovery and outgoing Liberals’ record take center stage
The Sea to Sky candidates faced off at the Maury Young Arts Center (MYAC) in a live debate on Wednesday September 8 ahead of the September 20 federal election in Canada.
Without a live crowd, the event felt more subdued than previous Whistler debates, but contestants did their best to compensate with a few sharp punches and sometimes inflammatory rhetoric.
On several occasions, candidates offered few direct answers to the wide array of questions posed throughout the night, instead relying on repeated talking points and party platforms.
On the MYAC stage, incumbent Patrick Weiler (Liberals); former MP John Weston (Conservative); Avi Lewis (NDP) and Mike Simpson (Green Party); while PPC’s Doug Bebb and Rhino Party’s Gordon Jeffrey joined by video call.
Each candidate had two minutes for the opening speech before answering questions from the host organizations (Whistler House, Arts Whistler and Pique Newsmagazine), followed by questions from the audience.
Topics covered during the two-hour event included (but not limited to) work, climate, the opioid epidemic, foreign ownership, and recovery from COVID-19.
Under attack for much of the night, Weiler has played the starting role well for the most part, relying on his record over the past two years to plead his re-election.
“I was the hardest working MP this riding has ever known. I’ve held over a thousand meetings over the past year and found new ways to involve people when we always had to stay six feet apart, ”said Weiler.
“I have been able to provide over $ 130 million in infrastructure and programs to this riding, and I have been able to achieve things that matter not only to our riding, but to the entire province.
Weston, for his part, has gone out of his way to highlight how pointless the current election is while highlighting the failures of the current Liberal government on topics such as climate goals, overspending and ethics, while also touting the conservative platform and his own track record as a constituency MP. .
“Patrick, as much as I admire you, that you say you work the hardest, well, that’s interesting – how would you measure that?” A lot of people have called me the hardest worker, and I’m sure there are more who could join this discussion, ”Weston said.
“But how can you trust liberals who can’t measure, who don’t really take their words seriously, who don’t know the difference between feelings and actions, promises and results?”
Lewis, whose campaign garnered high-profile endorsements from climate activists like David Suzuki, seemed to respond out of the blue at times, though his past life as a TV personality came to light on the mic.
Unsurprisingly, many of the questions – submitted and voted on by the public using Slido – revolved around climate change and the environment, a time when Lewis was at his best.
An NDP government will immediately end fossil fuel subsidies, Lewis said.
“To reduce emissions by 50%, 60%… or more, if we start thinking about our global responsibility for our climate debt, we need to move away from fossil fuels immediately, and we need to a controlled decline in fossil fuels. the fuel industry, ”Lewis said.
“The science is absolutely clear on this, and that means we have to do it with a government that takes care of workers, not big business, and that is the NDP.
Simpson, Bebb and Jeffrey didn’t have much of a chance to make their case to voters in the first half of the debate, as the majority of questions were directed to Weiler, Weston and Lewis.
Things accelerated during the candidate-candidate questions, which led to interesting exchanges between all those involved.
While Canadian radio and telecommunications are supposed to regulate telecommunications companies with the interests of the people in mind, the Liberal government has selected presidents who “take every opportunity to protect and please the big telecommunications companies, allowing their oligopoly, restricting potential competition and overcharging hard-working Canadians for telecommunications services, ”Jeffrey said in a question to Weiler.
“Your party’s last platform election included consumer advocacy on telecommunications, so how do you balance the above with your party’s actions? “
Weiler responded by saying that a “tremendous” amount of work has been done over the past six years to reduce cell phone bills, “and we’re almost there” – which Lewis refuted as he thought. sometimes feels sorry for Weiler in that he has defended the record of the Trudeau government.
“We have some of the highest prices for data and internet in the world, and mobile phone service, because we have a cartel… [of] Bell, Telus, Shaw, Rogers who are friends of the Liberals and charge us wazoo for terrible service, ”Lewis said.
“A public company is what we need; it is an essential service and we need it in the hands of the public… we will protect people from unfair, high prices with a cap, and we will demand affordable basic plans.
Weiler used his candidate question to point out that Weston has only attended two of six debates in the constituency so far.
“You are applying for a job to be a member of Parliament for this constituency. If you owned a business and someone showed up for one of the three interviews, would you hire them? “
Weston avoided answering the question completely, instead talking about how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau eroded trust in institutional government by missing targets for reducing GHG emissions and failing to provide clean water. to First Nations, among other broken promises.
With his question, Bebb aimed at Weston and the Tories, asking how the former MP can support things like vaccine passports in good conscience.
Weston highlighted his work by launching the Canadian Constitution Foundation, which advocates for individuals “when their rights are threatened” by governments.
“The conservative approach is to say that vaccines are indeed the best tools against the pandemic,” Weston said.
“We have to fight this thing, and we have to fight it for Team Canada, so we encourage everyone to get vaccinated. “
Bebb noted that Weston did not answer the question directly before quoting former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
“Winston Churchill said, ‘Some men change their policies to match their principles, while others change their principles to match their policies.’ By making a policy every week, as they did with the vaccine passport issue, by doing an about-face not too long ago based on polls and focus groups, the Conservatives are providing a good example of these – people who change their principles to match their policy, ”Bebb mentioned.
“Put simply, they have abandoned conservative principles in a desperate attempt to regain their position at the watering hole.”
The second half of the debate centered more on Lewis / Simpson, with the two candidates exchanging answers on a range of questions from the audience, most of them related to environmental issues.
“If you are serious about [climate change], there’s only one thing you can do, and that’s what Greta Thunberg says: lock yourself in science, ”Simpson said.
“You can’t argue with the physics of climate change. We’re off to a good start [an increase of ] 3.5 [degrees Celsius], and if we’re going with the NDP, we’re going to get it.
The subject of ancient logging also saw the two clash.
“We cannot cut down one more elder from the forest; not one more old tree, ”Lewis said, noting the BC NDP’s strategic review on old growth forests commissioned last year, which contains“ deep truths ”.
“[Simpson] I can hang on to the policies of the BC government, but they don’t match, ”Lewis said.
“We’re in a federal election and we need truth-tellers in parliament, and you know what, when the elections are over and the platforms are forgotten, it’s who represents you and speaks on the national stage to you, and I will fight for the trees.
Simpson, for his part, noted that Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was campaigning in British Columbia with British Columbia NDP Premier John Horgan.
“In the end, almost 800 people were arrested by an NDP government,” said Simpson, to whom Lewis responded that it was the RCMP making the arrests at Fairy Creek.
“I know it hurts to hear that Avi, but it is an NDP government that is at work in Fairy Creek,” Simpson said.
“If we don’t save these things, these are our carbon sinks, we should treat this like it’s more valuable than cutting them by the NDP.” “
Despite all the talk about climate change, Bebb used part of his closing remarks to assert that there is no credible plan to deal with it.
“China and India are building coal plants by the hundreds, and their CO2 emissions are skyrocketing,” he said.
“Even if Canada reduced its CO2 emissions to zero, it wouldn’t make a difference globally. Establishment parties are arguing over the arrangement of lounge chairs on the Titanic.
A recording of the event will be available on Whistlerchamber.com.
Pick up next week’s one Prick to learn more about the September 20 elections.