Welcome to my liveblog of Fight Night: The Rideau River Residence Association's (RRRA) all candidates debate for Ottawa Centre candidates. The debate will feature Paul Dewar, NDP candidate for the riding, Catherine McKenna, Liberal candidate for the riding, Damian Konstantinakos, Conservative candidate for the riding, and Thomas Milroy, Green Party candidate fort the riding. The debate will kick off in about 10 minutes and I will be updating throughout.
Libertarian Party candidate Dean T. Harris (and also a Carleton student) is here as well but will not be participating in the debate.
The debate will start with opening statements from each candidate. Then it will move on to questions submitted by students and clubs on campus. Closing statements from each candidate will finish up the debate. Libertarian Party candidate Dean T. Ryan and Communist Party candidate Stuart Ryan will give opening and closing statements but not participate in the debate.
Paul Dewar is now giving his opening statement. He says he is a privileged individual for being able to go to Carleton and create change. It is time for change in Ottawa, but not in Ottawa Centre, Dewar says. "The future is now and it's your time to make a difference."
Tory candidate Damian Konstantinakos says he is inspired by students' optimism. "We at the Conservative Party are focused on getting out of your way and making sure you have money in your pocket." He says the Tories trust young people to make decisions for themselves.
Liberal candidate Catherine McKenna is running for the first time. She got her start in international law working in Indonesia and East Timor.
The Green Party is up next. Tom Milroy went to Carleton late in life, he said. He jokes he is not unfamiliar with sneaking around residence. He passes along best wishes from Green Party leader Elizabeth May and David Suzuki. Milroy urges students to look at all the parties. Now that all the intros have been made the debate starts now!
First question: What will you do to help youth, especially those who have graduated from university, find the jobs they need?
Dewar: We have to do something about unpaid internships. The federal government should be taking on students in paid internships. The NDP will take on 40,000 paid internships if elected. He also says the government has to do something about precarious employment. The NDP will also introduce a $15/ hour minimum wage.
Konstantinakos: Touts the Conservative government's record. We have to make it easier for employers to hire young people, he says. "We want this to be a place where businesses come and you yourself start businesses," Konstantinakos said. He wants more tech- the industry he's employed in- to develop business and innovation.
McKenna: McKenna says she teaches a course at university and sees the problem of youth unemployment first hand. She says the Liberals will create 40,000 new jobs for young people and invest $1.3 billion in creating new jobs.
Milroy: "We are in agreement with our colleagues in regards to apprenticeships and internships. Big business will attempt to get as much as possible from people at the lowest rate." Milroy believes the government should invest more in renewable energy and jobs. The government should develop relationships between business and schools to offer training that is needed in the workforce.
The floor is now open to comment from all the candidates.
Dewar says the Liberals eliminated the federal minimum wage. He believes the government should lead by example at the federal level. He says students are being left with debt and an environmental crisis.
Konstantinakos says the Liberals will take money from every worker and borrow millions (He shakes his fist and leans forward while saying so). "The people of Ottawa Centre can't be stopped as long as the government stays out of their way."
McKenna says the government has been underspending on the backs of students and aboriginal people. She says the Liberals will run a deficit to create jobs. Dewar and McKenna are getting scrappy over details of their respective party's budget. McKenna says the NDP thinks they can spend while balancing the budget at the same time. "Not true, not true" Dewar says.
Milroy jumps in to criticize the Conservative's environmental record. He gets back to youth unemployment. "With respect to Damian, these guys don't collaborate with anybody." He says the Greens will collab with industry and schools.
Konstantinakos says Liberal leader Justin Trudeau has been getting his numbers wrong on the campaign trail. What we're doing is affordable government, Konstantinakos says.
Second question: What will you do to help students and others find the affordable housing they need?
Milroy starts off. He said homelessness is a problem. The Green Party will establish a guaranteed livable income based on region. "The federal government is getting our of the social housing business and it boggles the mind," said Milroy. He touts the Green Party's plan to collaborate more.
McKenna answered next. She said she has seen crumbling social housing in Ottawa Centre. It's a multifaceted problem, she said, and she will be an advocate for affordable housing. She says she will tackle both social housing and affordable housing, will give more money to communities for upkeep. Also the Liberals will look into turning unused federal buildings into social housing.
Konstantinakos said we don't need bureaucracy out of Ottawa to solve the social housing problem. Students shouldn't be shut out of neighbourhoods. He says he will fight for that as an MP even though it's not a federal jurisdiction.
Dewar says two important housing programs were completely cut in the spring. "The problem is we don't have a national housing strategy in the country and we need to have one." "We need to make sure everyone has a place to live and we aren't tripping over people in the streets," Dewar said.
The floor is now open to all candidates.
Milroy goes back to his point that the government has balanced the books by underspending, attacks the Conservative Party.
"Everything starts with housing," McKenna says. She agrees with Dewar's point that Canada needs a national housing strategy. She says to Dewar "Why wouldn't your party agree that your party won't spend all the time talking about balancing the budget."
"I wasn't talking about that," said Dewar. They're really going back and forth now, talking over each other, hard to understand where the conversation is going. "Yes or no will you increase corporate taxes?" Dewar asks McKenna.
"We don't need federal politicians allocations large amounts of money." Konstantinakos said. He defends not having a national housing program by saying Canada is the second largest country in the world.
Dewar rejoins the conversation. "it's about time corporations pay their fair share so we can build affordable housing." A two per cent increase in corporate taxes will generate $3 billion to fund other programs, Dewar said.
The third question is on the environment and the economy and how to balance the two.
Dewar credits NDP leader Thomas Mulcair's background on the issue. "Canada is way way behind in terms of green energy." He doesn't see subsidizing gas and oil as making sense when we can invest in green tech. Dewar says the NDP will make the polluter pay. Investing in green jobs is a great investment in the economy, he said. "We think it's smart to look to the future and involve ourselves in renewable."
"We're not in it for the publicity stunts," Konstantinakos said. He says that under the Tories greenhouse gas emissions have gone down. It's a pillar of the economy, Konstantinakos said. We've increased the amount of environmentally protected land in Canada, he said. He blames Saudi Arabia for wrecking the oil and gas industry in Canada.
McKenna wishes the environment and the economy go together, she said. "We have been very clear that we will be taking action on climate change and go to the Paris climate conference and take the provinces with us." She says the liberals will be funding green tech and green infrastructure. "I'm a practical person who wants practical solutions," she said. McKenna says Konstantinakos assertions on the environment are not true.
Konstantinakos argues back, gets cut off as Milroy gets a turn to speak now.
"Dr. Suzuki is not pleased with the Conservative record on the environment." It's perverse to see subsidizing going to oil companies who don't need the help. He says the Greens will tax companies and use the money to offset the costs the companies will levy on consumers. Biologists are muzzled and can't speak on environmental issues, he said.
Once again, the floor is open to all now.
Dewar says the First Nations have a role to play in talks about the environment. He says the NDP and the Green Party are the only parties who oppose the Keystone pipeline, Trudeau went to Washington to support Keystone. Even Hillary Clinton opposes Keystone, he said. "Now we'll have some sanity on that file."
Konstantinakos says the war against greenhouse gases will be won and lost in China and India, not Canada. He praised the Greens for taking a firm stance on Energy East. He says oil should be coming from Canada, not repressive regimes like Iran and Venezuela.
McKenna agrees the First Nations are being left out of the talk. "They aren't against all developments, they support ones where they're properly consulted." We need to have a strong economy but we are against several pipelines. She says pipelines need to make economic and environmental sense and have local buy-ins.
The Green Party is against all new pipelines, Milroy says. With all the tech and censures we have we still can't trust pipelines 100 per cent, he said. As a facilitator and a leader the government should be playing a role and I haven't seen any of that, Milroy said.
The fourth and final question: How does your party plan to encourage more female participation in politics and leadership roles in Canada?
Milroy starts it off by saying his is the only party with a female leader, acknowledges he is a middle aged anglo-saxon white man. The government is not a very positive environment for young women to think about getting in to, Milroy says. He says the best and brightest won't think about going into politics, something he is very concerned about.
Mckenna says obviously we need more women in politics. She is the only woman on the stage and is happy to be there. We need role models, I need role models, my girls need role models, she said. She said the Liberals have strong equal representation policies and more diversity is needed. McKenna pleads to the women in the room to get involved. "You guys are fearless and it matters to have women in politics."
"Of course we need more women in office," the conservative candidate Konstantinakos said. He says he is is proud the first female PM was a Conservative. "Partisanship should be set aside when it comes to representing women in politics," Konstantinakos says.
Dewar starts off his response by thanking McKenna for running. He talked about his childhood when his mother was the mayor of Ottawa. He said the NDP looks at how each piece of legislation affects women. The NDP strives to run candidates who come from underrepresented groups, including young people. Dewar thinks young people should be consulted more on national issues.
The moderator David Akin slipped in a question: How will you balance the concerns of people in Ottawa with national issues and the rest of the country's concerns?
Dewar said he thinks someone from Ottawa and Gatineau should be on the National Capital Commission (NCC) board. We need local representation on the NCC to make it work better.
Konstantinakos said his party has made the NCC more transparent. He doesn't think a member of city council or the mayor should be on the NCC. Ottawa Centre is the jewel and the crown of the country, he said.
McKenna thinks we need to be more ambitious for Ottawa Centre. She wants the Ottawa Public Library to be more ambitious and to improve the bike paths along the canal. McKenna criticizes the memorial to the victims of communism for being in the wrong place.
Milroy says the NCC is running amuck and it's filled with conservative "lackies". He says expanding the Airport Parkway is not a good solution to solve traffic problems. We need that representation on the NCC, it's ridiculous now.
The floor is now open to all candidates.
McKenna: The government has been taking potshots and making jokes at Ottawa's expense.
Milroy: Greens advocate collaboration, consultation and getting things done. "Ottawa is a special place, there's always something to do in Ottawa Centre."
And that wraps up the debate portion of the night!
Harris, the Libertarian Party candidate, is back to give his closing statement. His party is the only one that advocates true private ownership, Harris said.
Each candidate will have 90 second to wrap up.
Milroy praised Harris for being here and running. He says the Greens will be providing information on how to vote. He wants to work with students on campus to get a higher voter turnout.
McKenna: "You have a clear choice for Canada and a clear choice for Ottawa Centre." She attacked the NDP for fixating on balancing he budget and says her party is talking about spending to create jobs. Finished by encouraging people to vote.
Konstantinakos cites Conservative record on the economy, said the party will keep the government out of people's way. Tells crowd to make sure they vote.
Dewar said he got into politics to make a difference. The NDP wants to increase taxes and close loopholes to invest in the country and deal with poverty. There are huge inequities in this country, he said. He wants students to focus on their own debt but also affordable education.
Graham Pedregosa, president of RRRA, is back on stage to close things up.
And that's all folks! Thanks for watching!