Hello from City Hall, we are about half an hour away from the start of the debate. Jean-Luc Cooke and Emilie Taman have arrived. Liberal candidate Catherine McKenna has yet to arrive. The Conservative Party will not be represented tonight although they have a podium for them. Cooke has told me that the questions have not been sent out ahead of time although a "questionnaire" from the Mayor indicates that the themes of the debate will be focused on light rail, affordable housing and tourism.
The room is filling up with a fairly diverse crowd, some are sporting their preferred party's apparel. The candidates so far have taken time to great some of the crowd and made time for a few TV interviews. CBC Ottawa is here to cover the debate. The Mayor Jim Watson has announced the debate will begin shortly, and will be live broadcasted on Rogers 23 in French. A recording will be played alter on Rogers English.
The moderators for tonight's debate are Veronique Soucy and Mark Sutcliffe. Jim Watson has begun with an introduction. In no other city is the relationship between the federal and municipal government as intertwined as Ottawa, the mayor said.
Opening statements have begun. Taman said that we need a government that can be trusted to reverse the damages that Harper government has caused, promises to work with the mayor if elected to work on issues of transit and infrastructure. McKenna said that the Liberal Party will be able to invest in infrastructure ,and now is the time given that interest rates are low. Cooke quickly stated that he will be presenting key points of the Green platform that are relevant to Ottawa, this evening.
First question to Cooke on affordable housing, "we do not want to become "another Toronto or Vancouver" where housing is forcing workers to live further away form the city and commute. Promises to work with all levels of government on affordable housing. McKenna notes that the Liberals have promised 20 billion dollars for social infrastructure. Taman said NDP committed to new agreements with cooperative housing units that have been left neglected by the Conservative government.
Second question begins with McKenna, will your party help fund innovation centre in Ottawa. McKenna said that we need these innovation hubs to foster entrepreneurship, and investment for entrepreneurship, Liberals will directly invest in these kinds of centres. Taman, said this is where Conservatives have "completely dropped the ball" on investment, and the innovation centre in Ottawa is an example. Cooke, wants to have federal expertise involved in such centres, not just funding. Taman added that experts will need to be "unmuzzelled" first. All candidates so far are trying to position themselves as the choice to replace the Conservatives.
Video question for Emilie Taman on the victims of communism memorial, "do you support the project?" Taman is offended by the land allocated for justice department being used for this monument, does not take position on the monument itself, but the decision on the location was not done with proper consultation. McKenna is also upset with the lack of transparency on the decision for the location, "we need to reform the way the National Capital Comission does business." Cooke said, "we are often monument crazy" and that the scale and location of the proposed monument is not in proper proportion to other monuments in the city.
Second video question addressing a hockey arena in Lebreton Flats. McKenna said there are procedures in place, but if an arena is desired, then cost should not be a barrier. Cooke said that we do not want to be spending money on a new arena at this time, while the Kanata one is still viable. Taman, said that we need to be careful what we do with tax payers dollars given that a sporting arena is a private enterprise, need to see vision form developers proposing an arena in Lebreton flats. Cooke suggests rather than an arena an open park in central of the city would be a great idea.
Question from moderators on the National Capital Region in relation to the 2017, how will tourism be drawn? McKenna focused again on social infrastructure plan for the Liberals, draws particular focus on potential green infrastructure in Ottawa. Cooke picked up on that point and draws attention to a potential green space in Lebreton flats. McKenna said that looking at revitalizing the Ottawa Public Library would be a good way to leave a legacy on Ottawa for after 2017. Taman said that promoting events is a good way of promoting tourism in Ottawa, a good way to combine marketing with economic stimulus. Cooke stated that tourists are turned off by levels of governments arguing with each other.
Third video question of the night asks about light rail transit in the city. Cooke states that Green Party is big on light rail, will make sure city has funding to have light rail to the airport, as well as commuter rail beyond region of Ottawa, "Barhaven in my riding, and in the morning it looks like an evacuation." Taman says that it is to the city to determine how it establishes its public transit, but an NDP government will be a reliable partner to work with the city for transit initiatives, they will make funding available over time, says the Liebrals will dump money on the city "overnight." McKenna says that they will invest in infrastructure, and the NDP plan only works if they balance the budget. Taman says that the Liberal promise is not guaranteed for Ottawa.
Fourth video question asks if there should be an outdoor Ottawa Senators game. Taman says that this is the first time the issue ahs been raised, but is in favour of an initiative, it is not for her to decide and should be left to the city. McKenna says that it would be a great initiative and Ottawa-Centre has available space. Cooke jokingly volunteered his backyard and says that it is an appropriate event for Canada's capital.
Question from the moderators, regarding having local elective officials form Gatineau and Ottawa on the NNC board. McKenna says that there should be city representation on the NNC board to avoid lack of transparency such as with the monument to Victims of Communism decision. Cooke says that councils should be able to appoint a representative, as well as a seat that includes Aboriginal representation. Taman says that a seat should be open to the mayors of both city's or a member on their behalf, appointments to NNC should be non-partisan.
Discussion shifts to appointments. Both Taman and McKenna state that appoints should focus on more representation for women as well as Aboriginals.
Computer has died on me but will keep posting from my phone.
Concluding statements: Taman states that under a LIberal government in the past Ottawa has been neglected, NDP will work better with the city. McKenna focuses on how a Liberal government will invest in infrastructure to help Ottawa. Cooke says the Green Party will invest in high tech and other new industries in Ottawa.