Hello Ottawa. Just an hour to go before the debate starts. Mayor Jim Watson just arrived, and people are slowly starting to file into Andrew Hayden Hall here at City Hall. Look here for updates on tonight's events.
Emilie Taman is the first candidate to arrive, already chatting with early arrivers here. Her booth is set up and several people with orange buttons are milling around, some are handing out NDP flyers."She's really good, she's a good speaker, and well prepared for tonight," says Katie Oppen about Taman, a volunteer with the NDP. A questionnaire was sent out beforehand, so all of the candidates should be prepared to go.
Correction. Jean-Luc Cooke from the Green Party was the first to arrive. He overhead me saying Taman was the first, and corrected "Second." He got to talking with us Carleton Journalism students and said, "you run into people who say I've made up my mind 10 years ago...but then you meet others who are so informed." He also told us the main issues in the debate tonight will be the Ottawa Light Rail, affordable housing, and economic development.
Just a bit of background on the buzz around the missing Conservative candidates.
Meet our two moderators. Veronique Soucy (@verosoucy) a Gatineau radio personality and Mark Sutcliffe (@_MarkSutcliffe) columnist for The Citizen.
"The federal government is our largest employer," says Jim Watson. He talks about how the relationship between municipal and federal politics is most important here in our Capital City as the debate begins.
If you want to watch the debate, it is being aired live (starting at 7:00pm) in French on Rogers cable 23, and later tonight taped, at 10:00 pm in English on Rogers cable 22.
Emilie Taman opens the debate. Talks about robust, stable funding in infrastructure. "Different times come from different types of leadership" says Taman. She wants to work directly with mayor and councillors to build a better Ottawa.
McKenna plans to emphasize transit, affordable housing, daycare, and much more.
Jean-Luc Cooke will be highlighting the Green Party platform as it pertains to the City of Ottawa, and speaking on behalf of all the surrounding Green Party candidates in the Ottawa areas.
Affordable housing is the first topic. McKenna talks about the housing crisis here in Ottawa, which she says will be addressed in the Liberal's 20 Billion dollars of infrastructure budget. Taman jumps in, and is the first to address the missing Conservative candidate, who isn't here to answer for the housing crisis. Cooke suggests that we start consulting the experts here in Ottawa how to best implement a housing program.
The communist monument: McKenna protests in french to begin with. She decries the way that the Harper government has been acting with the place of this monument, and suggests we reform the way the NCC does business, and calls for a new appointments process, choosing members of the board based on merit, having a board that reflects the diversity of our population, and eventually
never getting a memorial like this again.
French video question from Jean-Francois filmed in the Byward Market. "Will there be a hockey rink in Lebreton Flats?" Mckenna shirks the yes or no question, but says the Liberals will weigh in on what to do with Lebreton Flats in a measured and consultative process.
Cooke says that the Lebreton Flats is the most logical place for a new hockey arena but the arena in Kanata is still viable, and that the original location was a mistake, but now you can't waste anymore taxpayers dollars on another arena. He suggests open parkland in that area instead, "maybe it's the Green in me," says Cooke.
Taman believes that Lebreton Flats is ripe for innovative housing and culture, not that she opposes another arena, she hopes to see an open and transparent process in the redevelopment of Lebreton Flats.
The Canadian Tourism industry, and specifically here in Ottawa, is brought up.
Cooke answers in french, there isn't a mandate for marketing here in Ottawa, then jumps to English, saying that the NCC is not doing the marketing they could be doing for Ottawa.
McKenna says a Liberal government will do something for 2017, saying that a Harper government doesn't believe in Ottawa because it has made no plans for the anniversary. 2017 is a time where the Liberals will be looking to invest, says McKenna, through social infrastructure investments, mentioning how the US Embassy has been sitting there empty, and spent a million dollar maintaining a building to be empty, for McKenna this needs to be changed.
Taman agrees that Canada 150 will give an interesting and dynamic tourist opportunity here, in terms of potential projects, revitalizing the Byward Market is her main goal. She says it's a centre-piece of tourism in the city, all you see is parking when you enter it, but she wants to make the market the heart and soul of the city again.
All three candidates want reform in the appointment process in the National Capital Commission. McKenna was asked how to fairly appoint a diverse committee, responding that the lack of diversity is "absolute bullocks." Taman jumps in and says that with a Harper government, there has been problems with "appointing your best friends" and not getting the job done.