Three of the seven federal candidates for the Red Deer-Lacombe riding participated in a virtual community election forum hosted by the Ponoka and District Chamber of Commerce on Sept. 14.
The forum was moved to an online platform after other election debates in central Alberta were cut short due to those refusing to wear masks indoors.
The candidates in attendance over Zoom were Megan Lim for the People’s Party of Canada, Libertarian Party candidate Matthew Watson and NDP candidate Tanya Heyden-Kaye.
The candidates briefly introduced themselves before entering into a question and answer period.
Watson was born and raised in Lacombe and is raising his children there.
“I decided to jump into politics as I’m a very passionate person and I decided to turn that passion into something that is useful,” he said.
He says there is a lot of issues with the current political system that doesn’t give the west much of a voice.
He is against the use of force in Ottawa to make people comply and MPs not being able to speak for their constituents.
Watson works on the railroad and on a chemical site. He says he understands people’s concerns with the oil and gas industry but also sees the benefits.
Lim lives in rural Ponoka with her partner and their two young boys.
She says she is running for office to ensure a prosperous future for the next generation.
“I feel like that future is slipping away from them right now,” she said.
“We are heading towards a communist dictatorship.”
The PPC is against mandated vaccination and vaccination passports.
“Your body is not the jurisdiction of the government,” said Lim.
“I believe this is the most important election of our lifetimes.”
Maxime Bernier has been fighting for Canadian’s freedoms for the last year and a half, says Lim.
“Unlike the Conservative candidate Mr. Calkins, I am not handcuffed by my party.”
She says as a PPC member, she intends to promote Alberta interests, fight “the misinformation leading to climate hysteria, get Alberta a fair deal on equalization and put a stop to the globalist agenda of the UN and the WHO.”
The PPC plans to defund the CBC, and corporate welfare and subsidies, and balance the budget in their first four years and then lower taxes.
“This is the message I intend to bring to Ottawa,” said Lim.
“I’m an Albertan, I’m a worker like you who wants a better life for my community and my surrounding communities,” said Heyden-Kaye, who lives in Ponoka.
Heyden-Kaye says rural Albertans have been neglected by the federal government.
The NDP plans to expand health care to include pharmacare and dental care, to end for profit long term care, to fight for seniors and people with disabilities to have a basic, livable income.
“The two big parties in this election care mostly about making the rich, richer, which leaves my family, and my friends, and my neighbours behind.”
The NDP will also prioritize getting rural Albertans reliable and high-speed Internet, diversifying the economy, tackling climate change and fighting to ban conversion therapy in all forms.
“And just watch me tax the rich with unlimited zeal,” said Heyden-Kaye.
Q: What will your party do to protect freedoms when it comes to mandating vaccine passports?
A: “I think that there is a bit of a confusion between what is a right in Canada and what is a privilege,” said Heyden-Kaye, giving the example of being able to drive a car with a license.
“There are some things at time, that are laws … sometimes they have to be implemented for public safety .. including (for) people who are elderly, disabled and can’t be vaccinated.”
“This is a hot topic that keeps coming up constantly. I encourage you, if you care about your neighbours, that you make the decision that helps the most … it’s dangerous to say it’s for public safety,” said Watson.
“I think if they’re presented with proper information they’ll make those decisions on their own.”
Lim agreed about Heyden-Kaye’s point on the difference between rights and freedoms, but added that people don’t have a right to be protected against illness.
Lim stated while she is not anti-vax, the number of adverse reactions to the vaccine are significant.
“I just want people to be able to make that choice freely,” said Lim.
Q: What are your opinions on vaccine passports?
A: “I actually really dislike the phrase ‘vaccine passport’ because we have always had vaccine records,” said Heyden-Kaye, adding that as a vaccinated person, she wants proof of vaccination to show when needed, such as for travel in other countries where it may be required.
“This isn’t something new.”
“The issue isn’t so much proving it for international travel … what we’re talking about is all businesses being mandated to not allow you in unless you provide proof of vaccination,” said Lim.
“Obviously, I don’t find that acceptable,” she said, adding if the vaccine works, why do people fear the unvaccinated?
Watson says there’s nothing preventing anyone showing proof of vaccination on their own.
“This is a brand new issue for this year,” he said, noting he is against the use of force.
Q: How will your party balance the budget?
A: Lim says the PPC will cut down on government spending and decentralize power. Along with defunding the CBC, the party plans to cut funding to UN, and end corporate subsidy. They do not intend to cut funding for military or seniors.
The Libertarians would similarly sell off crown corporations and cut federal programs that are not effective or greatly used, says Watson.
By reducing taxes, people can put their own money to better use, he says.
Heyden-Kaye replied that the NDP’s platform costs less than the Conservative or Liberal platform.
Q: How will your party support the military/veterans?
A: Watson says the Libertarians would remove Canadian troops from foreign conflicts and provide mental health support for veterans.
Lim says the PPC doens’t believe the federal government doesn’t have the money veterans are asking for when it’s sending billions of dollars of foreign aid overseas.
The PPC would honour a previous agreement and make a retroactive lump sum payment to veterans, she says.
The NDP has no plans to cut military funding.
Heyden-Kaye says supporting veterans important. She knows a lot of homeless and disabled veterans and the party’s affordable housing platform and expanded health care “helps veterans immensely.” The NDP would also increase mental health care supports.
Q: Would your party commit to withdrawing from the UN and abolishing the carbon tax?
A: Heyden-Kaye says the NDP won’t leave the UN, and “It’s impossible to cut off tax to oil.”
She says automation is cutting down on jobs which is unfair to oil works, and the NDP would retrain workers. Canada would still be a global energy centre, but for green energy.
Lim says the PPC would withdraw from any agreements with the UN that don’t benefit Canada directly.
The Libertarians would also pull out of UN. Watson says Canada doesn’t need foreign entities forcing their opinion on us and we have enough environmentally conscious people in this country already.
Q: Would your party support pipelines?
A: Heyden-Kaye agrees Canadian oil and has is important, but says pipelines have been problematic for the environment.
Watson says pipelines are best currently available option for transporting Alberta oil and says he looks forward to innovation in that regard.
Q: If elected, what would you party do to reconcile Indigenous legacy on inter-generational trauma?
A: Watson says the Libertarians wouldmove forward as best as possible with all of the provinces to recognize treaties and give control of resources back to First Nations.
Lim says clean drinking water for First Nations would be the PPC’s top priority. They would also repeal the Indian Act and institute property rights on reserves.
Heyden-Kaye says it’s very important to implement the 94 calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee. The 94th is to change the oath of citizenship to say they will honour all the treaties.
Heyden-Kaye gave Louis Bull having their own child protective services as a positive move forward. The NDP would also invest in housing and clean drinking water, she says.
The forum was moderated by Alberta Chamber of Commerce services manager Tracy Acorn.