Candidates debate for Kitchener-Waterloo riding

Photo by Will Huang

Photo by Will Huang

Yesterday afternoon at the Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex four of the provincial election candidates for the Kitchener-Waterloo riding gathered in front of a full room to discuss important issues province-wide and at the local scale.

The forum, hosted by the Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce, had NDP incumbent Catherine Fife, Green party candidate Stacey Danckert, Progressive Conservative candidate Tracey Weiler and Liberal candidate Jamie Burton debating issues of the economy, education, municipal issues and healthcare.

All candidates agreed the province is in trouble, with Danckert noting in her opening statement “politics is broken in Ontario.”

Photo by Will Huang

Photo by Will Huang

The state of the province was not the only thing the candidates agreed on. Though each party has a different method, they all acknowledge the need for more jobs in Ontario.

Fife criticized Weiler and the PC plan to cut 100,000 jobs, saying “you can’t create jobs by threatening to cut 100,000 jobs.”

In addition, Weiler, Fife and Burton all noted the importance of the two-way all-day Go train service connecting Kitchener and Toronto, an issue that has been very popular as of late.

Fife placed importance on the train for bringing commuters into the region, noting that 10,000 people commute into Kitchener-Waterloo every day, as well as bringing in new talent from larger cities.

Moving on to post-secondary education, Fife discussed her party’s plan to freeze tuition at their 2014 rates, as well as offer interest-free student loans, Burton reaffirmed the Liberal’s support of the 30 per cent tuition grant and Weiler said funding for institutions will be freed up when the province reduces its spending.

While Fife, Weiler and Danckert didn’t mention their respective parties’ leaders during the debate, Burton remained defensive of Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne ¾ discussing why she should remain the province’s leader ¾ and the Liberal budget. She even responded to Fife calling the Liberal party cynical by calling Fife cynical herself.

However, for the most part the debate remained clean and mature.

Danckert was relatively quiet in comparison to the other candidates during the forum, however her party’s plan to merge the Catholic and public school boards was one of the more controversial topics raised, receiving head shakes from many in the audience.

Though the forum had a strong attendance, with approximately 100 people in the audience, there was a noticeable lack of students and young adults. The majority of those in attendance were seniors.

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