Lethbridge federal election hopefuls face off in all-candidates forum

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Lethbridge federal candidates square off Monday in forum
WATCH: The Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce hosted an all-candidates forum Monday evening, where local federal candidates tried to sway local voters. Danica Ferris has more. – Oct 7, 2019

Federal election candidates in Lethbridge went head-to-head on the issues Monday evening with just two weeks to go until voting day.

The all-candidates forum was hosted by the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce at the Yates Theatre and drew an audience of about 200 people.

The event featured all six candidates eager to impress prospective voters and defend their party platforms.

READ MORE: Lethbridge candidates hit the federal election campaign trail

“I have hope in the head-to-toe universal pharmacare system being championed by my party,” said NDP candidate Shandi Bleiken.

“I have hope because I’m running alongside leaders who have championed Indigenous rights.”

Meantime, Conservative incumbent Rachael Harder was quick to take aim at the Liberals in her remarks.

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“In the Liberal platform, which has been brought out as of a few days ago, the province of Alberta isn’t mentioned once,” Harder said.

READ MORE: Rallies held ahead of motion on the future of Lethbridge’s supervised consumption site

The forum touched on a number of national and local hot-button topics. This included Lethbridge’s supervised consumption site.

“[Addicts] need that safe place to be able to go to so that they can survive until they’re ready to get into detox and rehabilitation,” said Green Party candidate Stephnie Watson.

The Liberal’s Amy Bronson said she’s spoken with party leader Justin Trudeau directly on the issue.

“To make sure he’s aware of what’s going on here and to see increased funding for treatment and for rehab beds that’s been committed to,” Bronson said.

Issues facing Canada’s Indigenous communities were also discussed.

“Where there are treaties, those are binding promises and we shouldn’t fudge or try to beat around the bush. We just have to keep those promises,” said Marc Slingerland, a Christian Heritage Party candidate.

“Where there are land claims and no treaties, there should be a special court set up to expedite the process of moderating those.”

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READ MORE: Underdog Lethbridge candidates beefing up federal election campaigns

The candidates were each given only two rebuttal cards to be used throughout the evening. The limited opportunities for debate were taken.

Pipelines proved to be another hot-button topic on Monday.

“Trudeau is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to build pipelines in China but won’t commit to getting his own built,” said Harder.

“The federal Liberal government has 4.5 billion reasons why we’re very committed to building the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion,” said Bronson.

“Four-point-five billion reasons, I’m sorry, but they turn around and pass legislation to stop any tankers from coming on that side of the ocean,” responded People’s Party of Canada candidate Grant Hepworth.

READ MORE: Trans Mountain pipeline expansion faces hurdles as landowners dig in heels

One topic the candidates could all agree on was the continued importance of agriculture to the southern Alberta economy.

The Lethbridge candidates will square off again on Thursday at a forum hosted by the Lethbridge Public Library.

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