Talking about the issues
Federal GPR candidates debated hot button issues at a recent debate Thurs., Oct. 10 televised by RogersTV. Pictured from the left, NDP candidate Konstantine Malakos, previous Green Party and current Independent candidate Marthe Lépine, Liberal candidate Francis Drouin, the two debate moderators, Conservative candidate Pierre Lemieux and People’s Party candidate Jean-Jacques Desgranges. Picture taken from the Rockland federal debate Thurs., Oct. 3. Glover photo

GPR – As the federal all-candidates debate for the riding of Glengarry-Prescott-Russell hosted by Rogers TV began, the topic of immigration was dropped on the candidates after opening statements.

“Absolutely, we do need more immigrants; immigrants serve a very important role in our country,” said NDP candidate Konstantine Malakos, whose, in his words, father was an immigrant and is currently married to an immigrant. “We need to focus on family reunification, it’s taking way too long. It’s very important for families to have their parents and grandparents here to truly make them feel at home.”

Malakos also made a note to mention that when people come here from other countries, their education should be recognized; referencing people working in Canada in jobs that do not match their trained profession.

People’s Party of Canada candidate Jean-Jacques Desgranges immediately rebutted: “So, you will accept that certain standards that are below Canadian standards when we’ve got people coming into Canada with certain qualifications,” he said. “The problem is that the rest of Canada has to support the parents for your unification program.”

Desgranges went on to explain that the PPC’s program is very simple, detailing that if you have skills that are proven useful or required in Canada’s economy, you are able to work for the country, bringing your spouse and kids. The parents and grandparents are able to visit, not stay because funding them to live here would put a strain on the economy.

Malakos rebutted by saying that there is plenty to go around and that there shouldn’t be a choice as to which family is brought  in.

Marthe Lépine, now running as an independent candidate, after her recent drop from the Green Party, pointed out that Desgranges assumes that these immigrants are going to be funded by the government.

“In large part, they are going to be supported by their children and there’s an old-fashion principle in the economy, ‘if you bring money into the economy, it goes from one person to another and it multiplies,’” she said.

Conservative candidate Pierre Lemieux cut off Lépine, stating that while his party does believe in immigration, the system needs to think about what is best for Canada and its citizens. “Under the Conservative leadership, that’s exactly how we focus our immigration system, in fact, we cleared up a lot of backlog and we raised the numbers to the betterment of Canada,” he said. “What we need to do is make sure our immigration system, and its processes, are fair, just and equitable and the Liberals have not done this. They have not protected the integrity of our immigration system, which is why Canadians have concerns about immigration, when they shouldn’t have because they do support immigration.”

Liberal candidate, Francis Drouin was quick to defend his party, stating that the Conservative and PPC parties were simply fear-mongering with misinformation.

“Our immigration system is reliable; what Mr. Lemieux is doing is confusing the refugee system and the immigration system and that has been fear-mongering from the Conservatives and the People’s Party,” he said. “I just want to clarify that we need immigration, otherwise we’re not going to meet our economic growth goals.”

Drouin continued to explain that sustaining Canada’s economic growth will include an immigration system that works for everyone.

The next question in the debate was aimed toward Lemieux, whose party leader has attacked the Liberal party leader on honesty and integrity, asking about Andrew Scheer’s work background and US citizenship. The question simply asked, why Canadians should trust Scheer.

Lemieux explained that it was a question of perspective. “Justin Trudeau has broken the federal law on two occasions and it’s not Conservatives that are saying that, it’s the ethics commissioner that is saying that,” he said. “He has also claimed to be a feminist, yet he has thrown two women out of his caucus and he fired his attorney general. Why did he do that? Because she would not do what he told her to do.”

Lemieux went on to say that a Liberal MP wanted to run in this federal election but Trudeau blocked her from doing so because she refused to call him a “great feminist.”

“There are a lot of ethical problems with Justin Trudeau, Canadians are seeing this, and they are losing confidence.”

Again, Drouin was quick to defend his party and his party’s leader, bringing the conversation back to the topic of Scheer’s credibility.

 “I don’t think it’s asking too much when the person [is] applying for the top job in the country… they be honest with Canadians and, in Mr. Scheer’s case, maybe he was an American insurance broker,” he said.

Malakos also immediately went after Lemieux, asking him if he gets lessons in deflecting a question, after being asked a direct question about why Canadians should trust Scheer and only speaking about Trudeau.

Lemieux stayed on course, speaking about what he perceives as Trudeau’s failures throughout his term as Prime Minister, comparing his behaviour to that of his own children. Independent candidate Daniel Fey agreed with Malakos’ statements.

“He was correct, you were asked a question about Scheer and I would’ve like to hear an answer about Scheer,” he said.

Lemieux rebutted, explaining that Scheer’s dual citizenship controversy pales in comparison to the current Prime Minister’s downfalls.

“It goes back to this comparison, when Mr. Scheer was asked that question, he answered in a very direct and forthright manner,” he said. “When Mr. Trudeau has been asked questions, he has not.”

The next question was directed at Desgranges, whose party has promised balancing the budget in a quick time frame of two years. He was asked how this is possible without the fear of service cuts.

“It’s with a critical look at the books, a critical look at the programs which may not be useful anymore or that have matured,” he said. “One of these is the Multicultural Act, there is money being spent under that act to promote many cultures, who can now stand on their own. That act has done very good things, but now it has matured.”

Desgranges stated that more programs need to be looked at to ensure money is not being wasted.

Malakos was quick to state that the PPC “admitted” they are against multiculturalism, telling viewers to think about that. Drouin was also quick to accuse the PPC for failing to provide Canadians with a fiscal plan.

Desgranges simply asked Drouin if he was planning to in-debt all future children and grandchildren, because that’s the path the Liberals have us on. Fey weighed in on the conversation, stating that some hard choices need to be made. “We should not have deficit spending at all,” he said. “We know how much money is supposed to be coming in, we [should] know how much we need for the next year.”

Lemieux pointed out that the Liberals promised to balance the budget by 2019 and they have failed to uphold that promise.

“The amount of deficit they have accrued in over four years tops $70-billion,” he said. “There is no balanced budget in sight and, in fact, over the next four years, if they win this election, it’ll be up to $100-billion.”

Desgranges ended the question, stating that the PPC will ensure the budget be back to equilibrium in two years.

“We’ll do that by looking at the programs that are in place and the programs that can actually be cut or reduced,” he said. “In doing so, there will be enough money to cover the deficit and once the deficit is done, a bright new world will come out of that for Canada.”

To view the entire debate, you can visit Advanced polling has started, and election day is Mon., Oct. 21; be sure to cast your ballot.