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Sturgeon River-Parkland candidates face off in forum

Four candidates vying for the federal seat Rona Ambrose left vacant made their case to the community on Thursday night.

Four candidates vying for the federal seat Rona Ambrose left vacant made their case to the community on Thursday night. The candidates spoke for two hours at the Morinville Cultural Centre at a forum hosted by the Morinville Chamber of Commerce and tackled questions ranging from abortion to North Korea over a two-hour debate. The forum allowed for each candidate to make their case for why they should be chosen to represent the riding in Ottawa. Ernest Chauvet, the candidate for the Christian Heritage Party said that he stood out because his party is the only Canadian political party that is officially against abortion. Conservative Candidate Dane Lloyd said that he is personally against abortion but supports his party’s stance and does not want to reopen a debate on the issue. Shawna Gawreluck representing the NDP and Brian Gold from the Liberal Party both said they supported a woman's right to abortion. All four candidates agreed that they would like to see abortions decreased through access to contraceptives. When asked about the carbon tax, the candidates did not come to a consensus. Lloyd and Chauvet both said they opposed the tax because they said it was not an effective way to reduce carbon emissions. Gold and Gawreluck both said they support the carbon tax because of the obligation to the Paris Climate Accord and importance of the tax in international relations and business. “The carbon tax is the most market-friendly solution that is possible,” Gold said. Candidates were also asked how they would handle the recent increase in rural crime. Gold said that he would support “no body no parole” legislation that was proposed earlier in the election by Lloyd, which doesn't grant parole to convicted murderers who don't reveal the location of their victims' bodies. Gold also said that dealing with the opioid crisis is an important aspect of dealing with crime. Gawreluck and Chauvet said they would like to address the root causes of crime. Lloyd and Gawreluck said they want to make sure there are enough officers in communities. “We need to ensure that we put the adequate RCMP resources into our rural communities to ensure that crimes are deterred and dealt with swiftly,” Lloyd said. Lloyd said that he has big concerns with gas and dash incidents and would support pre-paid gas pumps across Canada and wants to ensure that the Canada-wide RCMP database is well funded and up to date. Gold had to defend some of the government actions during the debate when asked a question about the ethics commissioner and Gawreluck mentioned that both the Liberals and Conservatives have had issues with the ethics commissioner. Gawreluck said that she supports a national pharmacare plan because it is cheaper to provide prescription drug coverage than putting sick patients in acute care beds. “Its one of those things that looks expensive on the front end but saves you money on the back end,” Gawreluck said. Chauvet said that his party would rather see a focus on preventative medicine and naturopathy to help treat the root of diseases. The forum had a focus on families and Chauvet said he would like to see money granted to parents to care for their children and aging parents. “We propose providing income to a parent in a family that would want to stay home and care for children who are under school age, for a physically or mentally handicapped child for a period of time or for an aging parent or grandparent who is not in good health,” Chauvet said. Gawreluck said that her party supports a national $25 day care plan. Gold said that the Liberals' childcare benefit has helped 300,000 children out of poverty and his party is committed to a national housing plan. Lloyd said his party supports bringing back income splitting but said that he believes the best thing that can be done for families is to focus on job creation. The byelection is on Monday Oct. 23.

Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

About the Author: Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Jennifer Henderson is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for Great West Media based in St. Albert, Alta.
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