Candidates square off during political forum

COLLECTING SUPPORT- Candidates for the upcoming election on May 2 spoke Monday night at a forum at the Chalet at the Westerner to answer questions from the media and the public. From left is Andrew Lineker (Liberals)

Tapping into everything from health issues to the possibility of coalition governments, local political candidates worked to shore up support during a forum held Monday at the Chalet.

About 200 people packed into the Chalet at Westerner Park to hear from Conservative incumbent Earl Dreeshen, Andrew Lineker (Liberals), Stuart Somerville (NDP) and Mason Sisson (Greens).

Clearly, the issue of attracting voters to the polls May 2 was on candidates’ minds as turnout in past elections has remained relatively low.

“When you get people involved in politics, they feel more important and more compelled to get out and vote,” said Lineker, pointing to key people in history who fought for voting rights. Lineker also ran in the 2010 Edmonton municipal election for the post of mayor.

He didn’t see the fact that he’s from Edmonton as being an impediment to being able to serve the Red Deer riding. “My dedication is to the voters and the citizens. When I ran for mayor, I listened to what the citizens told me they wanted in terms of a platform and that’s how I created my platform. That’s how I’m trying to create my platform here on a local level. People would be voting me in to do a job, and I would be answerable to the citizens. That’s how I view it.”

Dreeshen said after four elections in seven years, “It’s getting to the point where people are saying what’s the difference? As a teacher I always tried to encourage my students, no matter what political party, to get out there and vote.

“There are people that have given up their lives to make sure we have this democratic right,” he said, emphasizing the importance of social media tools such as facebook and twitter in engaging the electorate to get involved and have a say.

Dreeshen also said if his party could have majority status, there could be some policy momentum in Ottawa and four years of relative electoral peace.

Sisson said the largely unattractive nature of what people see in politics can be a turn-off. “We need a change in government and a change in how we do things to get people interested again.

“There’s a lack of transparency in the government. A lot of talk about transparency, but no accountability there.”

Sisson also added that the Conservatives, in particular Stephen Harper, hold too tightly onto their vision of power in running the country.

“He’s there to lead the parliament, but he’s asked to listen to what other members of parliament have to say.”

Somerville said he believed Canadians are apathetic about politics because politicians in general have little to say. “People are protecting their own positions in the House of Commons and not thinking about what benefits ordinary Canadians.

“I think when they start talking about the issues that matter to you and me, we will see more involvement in our politics.”

Somerville also said he sees democracy slipping away, as seen in the prorogation of government. “I don’t think Canadians respect that.”

As to spending, Somerville defended his party’s plans on increasing funds for programs and services.

“The corporate tax rate in this country keeps getting dropped. We understand we don’t want to cripple corporations. But dropping the corporate tax rate over and over again just shifts the tax burden onto other people. We see a situation in Canada where our governing party isn’t good at doing math, and they keep lowering these taxes and they keep spending money,” he said.

“And they wonder why we have a budget deficit.”

Another forum is set for April 28 from 1:30 to 4 p.m. at the Golden Circle.

mweber@reddeerexpress.com

Just Posted

Motown Soul celebrates ‘greats’ of classic era

Show pays tribute to Diana Ross and The Supremes, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye among others

Women of Excellence Awards introduces ‘Women of Excellence in Construction’

Gala will take place June 19th at the Sheraton Red Deer

Check online to make sure you’re registered to vote in upcoming provincial election

Advance polls open Tuesday, April 9th to Saturday, April 13th

UPDATE: Christy Starling has been found

Red Deer RCMP thank the public for their assistance

VIDEO: Restaurant robots are already in Canada

Robo Sushi in Toronto has waist-high robots that guide patrons to empty seats

‘Families torn apart:’ Truck driver in fatal Broncos crash gets 8-year sentence

Judge Inez Cardinal told court in Melfort, Sask., that Sidhu’s remorse and guilty plea were mitigating factors

WestJet sticking with Boeing 737 Max once planes certified to fly

WestJet had expected to add two more of the planes this year to increase its fleet to 13

Fierce house cat spotted as ‘aggressor’ in face off with coyote in B.C. backyard

North Vancouver resident Norm Lee captures orange cat versus coyote in backyard showdown

Wilson-Raybould to reveal more details, documents on SNC-Lavalin affair

Former attorney general has written to the House of Commons justice committee

Anti-discrimination group wants to map offenders with cross-Canada hate atlas

Morgane Oger Foundation issues call for volunteers to help build Canadian Atlas of Populist Extremism

GM announces jobs, electric vehicle after Trump criticism

The company says it will spend $300 million at its plant in Orion Township

Trucker who caused Broncos crash likely to be deported: lawyer

The Crown has asked that Sidhu serve 10 years in prison

China chemical plant blast kills 47, injures hundreds more

This is one of China’s worst industrial accidents in recent years

Most Read