It was a packed house for the Calgary-Lougheed byelection debate on Sunday afternoon.
The Calgary Leadership Forum hosted the debate at the Braeside community centre.
Five of the seven candidates attended to discuss issues such as the economy, health care and education.
There were some heated moments between United Conservative Party (UCP) candidate Jason Kenney and New Democrat Party candidate Phillip van der Merwe.
“I don’t call you extreme. I think New Democrats are good people. I just disagree with your ideas,” Kenney said. “Let’s have a respectful debate on the basis of policy and not name calling, not characterizing your opponent as sewer rats as your deputy premier did.”
“I am also a vasaectomy doctor so I know a thing or two about extreme cuts,” van der Merwe said. “Mr. Kenney’s proposed 20 per cent budget cuts will make life harder. They mean taking shovels out of the ground, crowded classrooms and longer wait times at hospitals.”
Alberta Liberal Party candidate David Khan argued he’s the moderate option to creating jobs.
“There’s young people graduating with degrees and diplomas with mountains of debt and with no jobs, so I hope we can have a real debate here,” Khan said. “I know I have real solutions for Calgarians and Albertans, and I strongly know the UCP and NDP don’t.”
Green Party Leader Romy Titel scored applause with her views on the environment, while Wayne Leslie of the Alberta Advantage Party received cheers after demanding for MLA accountability.
Calgary political scientist Lori Williams says it’s highly likely Kenney will win, but his name and political pedigree have drawn a lot of attention to what would normally be a run-of-the-mill vote.
Williams says other parties are using the byelection in the historically Conservative Alberta riding to mainly showcase their own platforms.
Kenney said he’s had a good response on the campaign trail, but he’s not taking anything for granted.
The Calgary-Lougheed riding was first created back in 1993.
There are more than 30,000 eligible voters.
— With files from Gary Bobrovitz and The Canadian Press