THUNDER BAY – Editorial – It was a debate where all parties were respectful to each other’s views and opinions. It was idea-based not personality-based… like a debate should be.
That is my view from attending today’s Northern Leaders Debate. A crowd of about 350 delegates to the NOMA Conference, and two overflow rooms where supporters of the New Democrats and Progressive Conservatives were able to watch the debate were able to hear both New Democratic Party leader Andrea Horwath and Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak engage in a solid question and answer debate.
The room was full, the media were out in force with reporters covering both the Hudak and Horwath campaigns from the national media present. The only person missing in action was Ontario Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty. The Liberals decided to skip the debate. The Premier was in Toronto making an announcement of $257 million to fund mental health treatment in Toronto.
“Respect is not just a fine word,” said Horwath, “it’s part of doing politics differently, and as Premier I will make sure that respect is backed up by real change – change that puts people first.”
Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty refused to participate in the debate, hosted by the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association citing a scheduling issue.
“I wouldn’t have missed this for the world – opportunities to debate what really matters to everyday people have been few and far between in this campaign,” said Horwath. “Holding a debate in the North is part of respecting the North.
“When it comes to the North, our unrelenting focus will be job creation,” stated Hudak. “Dalton McGuinty wants four more years of tax hikes and expensive energy experiments. The NDP would raise taxes on employers, killing potential jobs. An Ontario PC government will remove barriers to investment and bring jobs back to the Northern families who need them”.
Despite the Premier not attending, neither the PC leader or the NDP leader took any real personal shots at Mr. McGuinty. It was more about the policies that the Liberals have put forward to the North, rather than on personalities.
Hudak promised that with the Ring of Fire, a once ever opportunity for the North that under a PC government the Minister of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry would be put in charge of making sure that the work got done. Hudak stressed that “it is a bureaucrat buried deep in the Ministry charged with the responsibility”.
Horwath assured the audience that under an NDP government, that minerals mined in the north would be processed in the north assuring more jobs.
The audience seemed to warm up to both leaders as the debate went on. There was respectful applause for both party leaders as they answered questions.
One of the repeating themes of the debate from both parties was that the North wants in.
The debate was live-streamed on NetNewsledger.com with over 1,391 people tuning in to view the debate live. The live-stream was a co-operative effort between NNL and Shaw TV Thunder Bay.