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This article was published 22/9/2015 (1611 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
After several cancelled debates, candidates in Winnipeg Centre finally gathered to talk about the issues last week — but the conversation quickly became heated.
Four candidates were in attendance at Portage Place on Sept. 16, including incumbent NDP NP Pat Martin, Green Party candidate Don Woodstock, Liberal candidate Robert-Falcon Ouellete and Communist candidate Darrell Rankin.
In his introduction, Ouellette attempted to impress upon the audience the importance of voting at all, whatever that vote may be.
"If you actually go out and vote, in Ottawa they will notice," Ouellete stated. "Because when you aren’t engaged, the political class does not care about you. They only care about those who go and vote."
Martin noted the absence of Allie Szarkiewicz, the riding’s conservative candidate.
"I want to take a few seconds to point out what’s missing on the podium here today," Martin said in his introduction.
"What’s missing is there’s no one here from the ruling party of Canada. I think that’s a disgrace. They’re doing this right across the country."
The debate was characterized by rancour from thereon out. Despite moderator Shannon VanRaes’ efforts to keep the candidates to the set issues — housing, transportation and mental health — the participants used their allotted time as much for attacking one another’s platforms as offering up their own solutions.
Woodstock claimed Martin insulted him several times during the debate and demanded an apology, which Martin has since made publicly. Martin appeared increasingly impatient with Woodstock, who interrupted Martin multiple times and even chastised the crowed for applauding the incumbent MP.
"Mr. Martin, you ask people to judge people on what they do, and the crowd cheers, ‘yay,’" Woodstock said. "What are you guys thinking...? You cheer when Pat Martin says what he has done for housing here… anyone who lives in Winnipeg Centre knows we’ve had a housing problem for 18 years, so don’t cheer when Pat Martin says he’s done something, because it’s not happening."
Martin questioned Ouellette’s promises to pump $20 billion into the transit system, claiming the Liberal Party wasn’t able to explain where the funding would come from.
"It seems the Liberals have a $20 billion pot for transit… for this, for that," Martin said. "When you ask where’s the money coming from, they say we’ll take it out of the pot. Well, budgets don’t balance themselves."
Ouellette responded by saying that extensive studies would be conducted to make any transit infrastructure changes as efficient as possible. While he and Martin debated back and forth about a balanced budget, Rankin proposed a different approach.
"In this election campaign, we have parties that want a balanced budget, and that’s foolish," Rankin said.
"We need to spend money to create jobs. We need to have public transit, big time. $20 billion is nothing in a $2 trillion economy per year. We need it now."
Community journalist — The Metro
Alana Trachenko is the community journalist for The Metro Email her at alana.trachenko@canstarnewscom Call her at 204-697-7132