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Cape Breton-Canso candidates participate in debate

Cape Breton-Canso candidates, including Billy Joyce (left) of the People’s Party of Canada and Liberal Mike Kelloway, greeted and spoke with constituents after an Oct. 7 debate. Corey LeBlanc
Cape Breton-Canso candidates, including Billy Joyce (left) of the People’s Party of Canada and Liberal Mike Kelloway, greeted and spoke with constituents after an Oct. 7 debate. Corey LeBlanc - Corey LeBlanc

Strait Area Chamber of Commerce, 101.5 the Hawk present event

PORT HAWKESBURY, N.S. —

In a debate with the theme ‘Building a Canada That Wins,’ candidates for Cape Breton-Canso, in the upcoming federal election, took center stage Oct. 7 in the Shannon Studio at the Port Hawkesbury Civic.    

The quintet of Mike Kelloway (Liberal), Alfie MacLeod (Conservative), Laurie Suitor (NDP), Clive Doucet (Green) and Billy Joyce (People’s Party of Canada) were invited to participate by the Strait Area of Commerce and 101.5 the Hawk, organizers of the two-hour event.    

It was standing room only, with more than 100 people turning out to hear what the candidates had to say.    

Along with opening and closing statements, the federal hopefuls answered broad questions posed by moderator and 101.5 the Hawk news director Greg Morrow and ones submitted to the Chamber by residents.

Laurie Suitor (NDP), answering a question, and Conservative Alfie MacLeod were among the Cape Breton-Canso candidates who participated in an Oct. 7 debate in Port Hawkesbury. Corey LeBlanc
Laurie Suitor (NDP), answering a question, and Conservative Alfie MacLeod were among the Cape Breton-Canso candidates who participated in an Oct. 7 debate in Port Hawkesbury. Corey LeBlanc

Reflecting on his time as a city councillor in Ottawa during the historic ice storm, and it’s devastating effects, Doucet said climate change and what it is doing to Cape Breton were the impetus for his candidacy.    

Noting the PPC is the “fastest-growing” federal party in Canadian history, Joyce talked about its platform focussed on individual respect and fairness, which places “the needs of Canadians first,” as part of a “common sense revolution.”    

Kelloway noted the Liberals commitment – one that will continue – to “investing in people” and growing the economy.    

“I want to make your concerns a priority in Ottawa,” he told the audience, while providing them with a “seat at the table.”    

MacLeod talked about “the need to be heard,” while providing a strong voice on Parliament Hill.    

Touting his life experience, including election at the provincial level, he touched on the “diversity of the riding.”    

“I will not be a ‘yes’ man,” MacLeod said.    

Suitor talked about the need “to help each other thrive,” while noting Canadians are “working harder and afford less.”

No knockout punches   

Using a boxing parallel to describe how the debate unfolded, there were many jabs, but no knockout punches, with plenty of dancing around the proverbial ring.    

Candidates had the opportunity to respond to each question, while each segment wrapped up with one minute of time, in total, for hopefuls to jump in and provide rebuttal.    

Joyce was the candidate who, most often, took advantage of that opportunity; going on the offensive against the Conservatives and Liberals, when it comes to their respective track  records.    

Flanked by Clive Doucet (left) of the Green Party and Liberal Mike Kelloway, People's Party of Canada (PPC) candidate Billy Joyce delivers his opening remarks. Corey LeBlanc
Flanked by Clive Doucet (left) of the Green Party and Liberal Mike Kelloway, People's Party of Canada (PPC) candidate Billy Joyce delivers his opening remarks. Corey LeBlanc

The environment – and striking a balance between it and growing the economy – came up on a couple occasions.    

Joyce suggested there is much alarmism regarding climate change, which is based on “flawed models.”    

Kelloway suggested you cannot have a plan for the environment without having one for the economy.    

Noting the importance of natural resources to not only the riding, but also the province, something he reiterated on several occasions, MacLeod also stressed the need “to strike a balance.”

Under the ‘fiscal responsibility’ heading, Joyce cautioned about the spend-more approach of the other parties, while talking about PPC measures, such as a flat tax system and balancing the budget.    

Kelloway asked would people rather grow the economy or “balance the budget on the backs of the middle class.”    

Describing small businesses as the “backbone” of the economy, MacLeod touted the need for government “to get out of industries they have no business being involved in.”    

Making the parallel to running a household, Suitor said the federal government cannot spend more than it brings in, while stressing the need for the federal government to have ingenuity and planning for the future.    

There were discussions on work force attraction and retention, trade enabling infrastructure, affordable housing and leadership, with the latter touched on throughout the gathering.    

“We need an insightful leader in very complicated times,” Suitor said of Jagmeet Singh.    

She added the NDP leader has “emerged,” while showing “fearlessness and willingness to be courageous.”    

Doucet said “no others compare,” when it comes to the Green’s Elizabeth May.    

“She has earned your confidence,” he added.    

After listing his ministerial roles while a member of the former Conservative government, Joyce said the other parties have “hijacked” the PPC’s platform.    

Kelloway said it is not about looking for perfection, while adding Trudeau has “grown into the position.”    

MacLeod said Scheer has “always been underestimated.”    

“He has been listening to people,” the candidate added. 

Closing remarks    

In his closing remarks, Joyce said Canada is “at a crossroads,” noting a battle between globalism and patriotism.    

He added there is a need to get beyond “hollow promises” offered by the traditional parties.    

Calling it a “common thread,” when it comes to every issue, Doucet suggested the status quo “isn’t working.”    

“This is a hugely important election,” he said.    

Suitor reflected on a “complicated time,” noting the “erosion of services” for ordinary Canadians, and how something has to be done.    

MacLeod said he was nervous about the debate because this is a “huge” election.    

“I want to be the ‘voice’of Cape Breton Canso,” he added.    

Kelloway said he wants “to serve you and work with you.”    

“I want you to be my boss,” he added. 

Candidates absent    

The quintet of candidates that participated in the debate is not the only ones vying for the Cape Breton Canso seat.    

Darlene Lynn LeBlanc (National Citizens Alliance) and Michelle Dockrill (Independent), who are also on the ballot, were not invited to participate.    

In her closing remarks, Strait Area Chamber of Commerce executive director Amanda Mombourquette explained organizers made the decision to only include candidates from parties with MPs when the writ was dropped.    

She noted all candidates have been invited to make written submissions to the Chamber, which will be distributed to members across the business organization’s various social media platforms.    

“It is a brave thing, especially in these times,” Mombourquette said in commending the candidates for putting their names forward for the federal campaign.    

The debate was broadcast on Facebook Live.

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