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article imageCanadian Don Valley West debate gets tough, New Democrat no shows Special

By Andrew Moran     Apr 21, 2011 in Politics
Toronto - Liberal Member of Parliament for Toronto's Don Valley West took on the Conservative, Green and Communist candidates at Wednesday's federal debates. Candidates presented their platforms, which led to both cheers and boos from voters.
Canadian voters have a little less than two weeks to make their decision has to who will run the government of Canada for the next two to four years. Will Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party finally gain a majority? Or will the New Democrats stun the system and defeat the Liberals and Conservatives?
The federal debates continued Wednesday in Toronto’s Don Valley West riding at the St. Bonaventure Church on the corner of Leslie Street and Lawrence Avenue East. Although it was a cold, windy day in the Greater Toronto Area, the debates were heated and tense as various moments.
The debate featured Liberal incumbent Member of Parliament Rob Oliphant, Conservative federal candidate John Carmichael, who is running for the third time, Green nominee Georgina Wilcock and representing the Communist Party, Dimitris Kabitsis.
New Democratic Party candidate Nicole Yovanoff did not attend the debate.
Don Valley West candidates (from left to right): Communist Party candidate Dimitris Kabitsis  Conser...
Don Valley West candidates (from left to right): Communist Party candidate Dimitris Kabitsis, Conservative candidate John Carmichael, Green candidate Georgina Wilcock and Liberal MP Rob Oliphant.
Opening Remarks
At the start of the debate, Carmichael mentioned the Liberal-NDP-Bloc Quebecois and them wanting to “govern without actually being elected.” This led to boos from the crowd and some stating, “Come on.”
“We do not need a reckless government from a coalition,” said Carmichael.
However, as others criticized the Conservatives with attacks on the Prime Minister allegedly leading the country towards “privatization, more wars and erosion of civil liberties,” this also led to dissatisfaction from the crowd.
The Liberal incumbent immediately came out shooting and criticized the Conservative government, while stating the positives of the former Liberal governments. “The Liberals do not have to take lessons on economics from the Conservatives,” said Oliphant. “We balanced the budget nine times before the Conservatives took over.”
He added that the Liberals inherited a $45 billion deficit from former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s government, which ended in a surplus, which then led to the current $55 billion deficit. Furthermore, the G8/G20 Summits last summer were also criticized, once again, for costing too much ($2.5 billion) over a two-day period.
“The last time the Conservatives balanced the budget was in 1889 when John A. MacDonald was Prime Minister,” said Oliphant. “The Liberals have balanced the budget numerous times while in power.”
Georgina Wilcock decided to talk about the paucity of economic equality for women in Canada. Wilcock stated that women receive only 71 cents of everyone $1. Plus the federal government has eliminated funding for women’s issues, such as birth control and contraception.
The Communist Party candidate highlighted that jobs is one of the most important issues. One way the country can create jobs is to eliminate tuition fees for post-secondary institutions and provide free education for everyone.
Communist Party candidate Dimitris Kabitsis (L) and Conservative candidate John Carmichael.
Communist Party candidate Dimitris Kabitsis (L) and Conservative candidate John Carmichael.
Important Don Valley West Issues
It was agreed by all four candidates that Don Valley West was the most, if not one one of the most, diverse ridings in all of Canada. Dimitris Kabitsis said that immigrants who come to the district from around the world need appropriate housing because many of them live with six people in a two-bedroom house.
“We need more education and training,” said Kabitsis. “There are not too many jobs in this riding.”
Carmichael was also concerned with the lack of jobs in Don Valley West, particular in the Thorncliffe area. “We have to do a better job at creating jobs and attracting businesses here,” said Carmichael.
One way to do this is to create an incentive for businesses and to ensure that immigrants who are looking for work are productive immediately.
During the municipal election in Toronto, then-candidate Mohamed Dhanani said one of the biggest issues facing Leaside – an area part of Don Valley West – was the commuting time for residents.
Several months later, Wilcock addressed this issue by stating that motorists are spending 18 minutes commuting, which is the longest in the world. Furthermore, Wilcock said this city has become unliveable because its “infrastructure is crumbling.”
She suggests investing in infrastructure and affordable housing because then “jobs will flow with that.”
Oliphant addressed the $55 billion deficit and said that cuts are inevitable. “How are we as a society going to survive?” asked Oliphant. “We’re going to have to trim the federal budget.” He added: “We have to be a people-oriented government.”
Liberal MP Rob Oliphant.
Liberal MP Rob Oliphant.
Global Warming
One audience member asked each of the candidates what their party’s plan is to reduce global warming and how much are they going to reduce carbon emissions and when.
Carmichael decided to be blunt and stated that it is easy to make projections, but meeting them is a completely different story. But he did state that measures are set for a 2020 target by investing billions of dollars in green energy, fines for polluters and projects that include Rouge Valley Park in the riding.
“Liberals established the Kyoto agreement, but emissions rose by 35 percent when in government,” said Carmichael.
Although the Green Party has worked hard to establish its party on different issues, Wilcock still said the Greens have the “strongest plan to tackle climate change,” which, she noted, is endorsed by numerous non-governmental organizations.
Some of the Greens’ initiatives include investment in retrofitting and investments in cities with eco-efficiency, housing and mass transit.
“Greens have good plans, but Conservatives don’t have it in their DNA,” said Oliphant. “Liberals want to balance stability. The Conservatives cut $10 billion in environment initiatives because they have been captured by the oil companies.”
He concluded by labelling the Prime Minister as a “fossil joke in Copenhagen,” which got a huge applause from voters.
The Communist Party would impose stricter methods to reduce global warming. For example, Kabitsis would eliminate user fees for public transit and implement heavy fines and imprisonment for polluters.
But the Communists would also initiate a national energy plan, shutdown Alberta’s oilsands and investment in solar and renewable sources of energy.
Green candidate Georgina Wilcock and Liberal MP Rob Oliphant.
Green candidate Georgina Wilcock and Liberal MP Rob Oliphant.
Political Subsidies to Political Parties
Wilcock was supportive of this policy because “in order to have democracy, it requires money.” Oliphant agreed with Wilcock’s statement, and added that the Prime Minister views Parliament as a body “getting in the way of his agenda.”
Earlier this month, Oliphant spoke with five Congressmen and they explained that it took millions of dollars to run, but it only costs approximately $85,000 per riding in Canada. “Democracy is worth those dollars.”
The Communist Party, a minor political party in the country’s landscape, agrees with the subsidy and asked how else will the small parties survive? Kabitsis said a group of small parties went to the Supreme Court of Canada and requested $1.75 per vote, but then was sent to the House of Commons and was rejected. In the end, Kabitsis said they were sent back to the Supreme Court.
Carmichael was the only one to oppose political subsidies. He feels that subsidies to the political parties should not be paid for by the taxpayers. “It must end, and it must end now.”
If re-elected, the Conservative government would introduce legislation that would eliminate subsidies to the parties. Wilcock attempted to interject and ask him if he would give back the 60 percent of funds – the moderator would not allow back and forth discussions.
Track Record on Balanced Budgets
The Green Party has never been in power, but Wilcock urged voters to look at their campaign’s frugalness and platforms. The national party is not in debt, the Don Valley West campaign is running with its limited sources and they are not advertising.
Oliphant once again alluded to the past Liberal governments’ nine-year balanced budgets before Harper came to power. He also said that Harper has increased spending by more than 13 percent before the economic recession.
Plus the Prime Minister’s Office grew from $7 million to $10 million, noted Oliphant.
“I was second out of five Members of Parliament to fully disclose my expenses,” said Oliphant. “My books are open to you to know how frugal I am.”
Kabitsis basically stated that the Liberal Party will spend money on more wars and with a Harper majority the budget deficit will continue to rise.
Conservative Candidate John Carmichael (L)  Green candidate Georgina Wilcock and Liberal MP Rob Olip...
Conservative Candidate John Carmichael (L), Green candidate Georgina Wilcock and Liberal MP Rob Oliphant.
The Conservative candidate noted that Canada was the last one in the recession and the first one out of the recession. The Conservative government’s Canada Economic Action Plan has helped stimulate the economy, said Carmichael, because thousands of jobs and programs from "coast to coast" have been successful.
“The Liberals complain that we were not spending enough,” said Carmichael. “But now they are complaining that we’re spending too much.” In the end, noted Carmichael, the budget will be balanced by the year 2014.
Information about Don Valley West
The federal electoral district, which was established in 1976, is located in the province of Ontario. The riding sits in uptown Toronto; stretching from Yonge Street and Lawrence Avenue to Don Mills Road and Eglinton Avenue and York Mills Road and Bayview Avenue to the Don River.
There are approximately 115,539 people residing in Don Valley West, most of which maintain a modest middle income. The riding has the highest amount of Muslims in the country.
Rob Oliphant is the Liberal Member of Parliament representing the district. Oliphant succeeded John Godfrey, who was a Liberal speaking for the district in the House of Commons since 1993.
More about Canada Election 2011, Don valley west, Debate, rob oliphant, john carmichael
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