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Ottawa Centre All Candidates Debate: Carlington

I had no idea Ottawa Centre had seven candidates running for MPP.

Seven Candidates in Ottawa Centre

From left to right:

Richard Eveleigh, Independent. Let’s just say he needs to polish his public speaking skills a bit before he tries this again. I felt kind of sorry for him because he doesn’t speak clearly and I don’t think he hears very well either, and honestly, he seems a bit confused. Greg Laxton had to keep explaining things to him. He’s a single-issue candidate: the environment (but eccentric-environment). He declined to answer a number of questions – some legitimately because they were about party positions, and others because he didn’t understand the question. (I will give him points though for having the guts to say he didn’t understand the question rather than using the opportunity to talk about something else, the way more experienced candidates do.)

Greg Laxton, Greens. I liked him. He was smart and comfortable and personable. BUT. BIG BUT: during his 7-minute intro, he didn’t talk about the issues. He talked about himself and why he became a politicans and how he wrote his masters thesis on electoral systems and how he was the one who put McGuinty on the spot in public about committing to a referendum (the upcoming MMP referendum). He talked about what he had done rather than what he would do if elected.

Danny Moran, Family Coalition Party. Practically the first word out of his mouth was abortion, and God wasn’t far behind. I found him surprisingly likable though, in spite of his preachy moralistic politics. He seemed like a pragmatic, down-to-earth, screw-the-politics kind of politician. He promised to be “loud, shrill, strident, annoying and persistent” if elected. I couldn’t possibly vote for him, but he’d be kind of fun to have as an extended relative who I could see once or twice a year at family gatherings and argue with till we’re both blue in the face.

Trina Morisette, Conservative Party. Trina didn’t show up until it was her turn to talk. She didn’t seem quite real – she sounded more like an advertisement for herself, describing herself as “a new face and a trusted voice.” She was like a cardboard cutout with a party line and a memorized speech. On several occasions she made a point of saying that her father was a cop and her mother was a nurse, and seemed oddly self-congratulatory about it. She overused words like ‘proud,’ ‘passionate,’ and ‘values.’ She even said something like “these values are the cornerstone of my personal constitution.” Seriously, who has a personal constitution? Get real Trina.

Will Murray, NDP. Will was pretty intense and focused, and he spoke to issues like the social safety net, health, education, pollution, cuts, and the fact that Ottawa does not get a fair deal at Queen’s Park. As a lawyer, he’s done some interesting stuff, including some legal challenges against jailing mentally ill people who should be hospitalized, and fighting Money Mart on usery charges. At one point he pointed out that provinces with NDP governments are doing well in terms of balancing the books. I heard him say “Commies are stronger than they were previously.” But what he really said was Economies, not Commies.

Yasir Nagvi. Liberal law professor who immigrated from Pakistan at the age of 15, and came from a socially conscious family. Stressed his involvement in community and voluntary groups, like the Centretown Community Health Centre, and the Food Bank.

Stuart Ryan, Communist Party. If the man has any personality at all he should dust it off and bring it to these kind of events. (Although I have to say, I think I prefer his personality to that of the perennial Communist Party candidate, Marvin Glass.) As far as policy positions, they all sounded nice but unrealistic.

Highlights from the Questions from the Audience:

There were quite a few questions about the referendum.

All the candidates are voting YES on the referendum question, except for Trina. The PCs as a party are against it.

There seemed to be a bit of confusion among some of the candidates about the referendum. Laxton was the resident expert, and he framed it as a matter of democracy rather than process. He pointed out that the current system does not technically meet the criteria for democracy.

There was an interesting flare-up when Will Murray (NDP) said that Laxton’s the only Green candidate who knows more about MMP than about the environment, and that he (Murray) knew more about the environment than Laxton did. Laxton was visibly – and audibly – pissed off.

The only other heated moment came when a woman in a wheelchair approached the microphone (which was right beside my ear) and started screeching about accessibility issues (specifically about the lack of wheelchair-accessible washrooms along the 401). She was quite shrill and she was pointing her finger at them and jabbing the air and demanding timelines for improvements and saying that people with disabilities in Ontario have fewer civil rights than Blacks in the South, and that when someone wants to shit they want to be able to shit. Of course she was absolutely right, but you can’t go around being that livid all the time, it’s just not healthy.

Interestingly, the Family Values candidate had the best answer for her: there’s legislation in place, you just have to find out who needs to be yelled at and then yell at them.

Anyway, it’s late, so that’s it for my report from Carlington’s All Candidates Debate!

Here are a couple of extra pictures:

Eveleigh, Laxton and Moran

All Candidates Nap

I thought this one was kind of funny. They all look like they’re about to pass out.

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