People who live in the riding of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount got a chance to learn more about the candidates asking for their vote during a debate.
The event was organized by the Westmount Municipal Association and took place in Westmount’s Victoria Hall on Tuesday.
After candidates introduced themselves, the public asked questions.
The incumbent, Liberal candidate Marc Garneau, was the public’s and the other candidates’ target for most of the night.
He was first asked about how Canada is handling the Taliban’s hostile takeover of Afghanistan.
“We have been very clear with respect to our demands [to the Taliban] and that is the basis which we are going forward because we do want to get our Canadians home, we don’t want terrorism to thrive there, we do want human rights,” said Garneau who was acting as minister of foreign affairs before Parliament dissolved.
People in the audience clapped when the Green Party’s candidate Sam Fairbrother, a student of Environmental Science at McGill University, replied to Garneau’s statements on ensuring the Taliban respect women and children’s human rights.
“If you think that that’s necessary, why are we selling weapons to Saudi Arabia?” Fairbrother said.
The Liberal candidate kept calm as he provided answers but lost patience once, when Conservative candidate Mathew Kaminski asked why rapid testing wasn’t widely available in Canada.
“We’ve had rapid testing for a very long time. … It’s out there. We gave it to the provinces and the provinces are using it,” Garneau said while raising his voice. “Please, do your research before you make statements like that.”
Things got heated once again when talking about the environment.
Garneau argued the Liberal’s plan to combat climate change was ranked the most credible.
But other candidates were quick to criticize it.
“We’re aware that yes, we cannot close the pipeline from one day to the next,” said the NDP’s candidate Emma Elbourne-Weinstock.
“It’s not a question of that. It’s a question of the Liberals continuing to invest in this industry, such as when they bought a pipeline in 2018.”
Public health measures and mandatory vaccinations to tackle the pandemic were also top of mind, as the candidate for the People’s Party of Canada, lawyer turned YouTuber David Freiheit, condemned public health measures such as lockdowns and mandatory vaccination.
“There’s a difference between believing in the vaccine and believing in an individual’s choice to undergo a medical procedure based on their own assessment of their own life and their own risk,” said Freiheit to Garneau who was defending COVID-19 vaccines as a solution to end the pandemic.
“My reply is you can believe in what you want, but you cannot believe in it if you’re going to endanger my life,” Garneau told Freiheit.
Garneau has held the riding since 2015 and is the front-runner in an area considered “red.” Residents will decide next Monday at the ballot box if it stays that way.
More information and a full list of candidates is available on the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount riding profile page.
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