OUTLOOK - Just days before Canadians head to the polls from coast to coast, four candidates vying for the Moose Jaw-Lake Centre-Lanigan constituency appeared in Outlook on Wednesday night, September 15 to take part in a Q&A forum in the hopes of swaying a few votes.
Appearing at the Heritage Centre were Katelyn Zimmer of the Liberal Party, Chey Craik of the People's Party, Talon Regent of the New Democratic Party, and Fraser Tolmie of the Conservative Party. Questions for the event were prepared by students from LCBI High School, who also introduced the candidates.
The forum was broadcast live on the Facebook page of the Outlook & District Chamber of Commerce.
The first question asked candidates for their thoughts pertaining to renaming Canadian monuments due to their controversial and/or racist pasts.
Zimmer seemed in favor of renaming, should it be in the best interest of the parties involved. Craik, however, said he didn't believe in renaming anything, stating that Canada shouldn't "retrofit" monuments in order to fit today's standards and mindset. Regent took the question as an opportunity to take Justin Trudeau to task, stating that he "took a knee against the system, but he IS the system." Tolmie maintained a point of balance, stating that "We cannot erase our history and past, we need to learn from them."
The second question touched on the COVID-19 issue, asking if people should show their proof of vaccination.
Craik replied that the COVID pandemic has shown that there are more issues with Canadian residents than a virus, stating "There's no vaccine passport that'll help with our society." Regent, meanwhile, promoted the vaccine and the good that has come with people getting their collective shots. Tolmie pointed out that the COVID pandemic is more of a provincial issue on a region by region basis, so the power of any federal party on the matter may be limited.
The third question asked how much taxes large corporations should have to pay, and Regent was the most outspoken on this topic, touching on how conglomerates such as Netflix and Amazon pay no taxes at all, stating that an NDP government would support such companies "paying their fair share". Craik commented that businesses should have freedom and be without government interference.
The carbon tax was the center of the evening's fourth topic, asking for each candidates' thoughts on the matter.
Tolmie stated that "Policy should be there to help us, not hinder us," and further stated that "Justin Trudeau's carbon tax has not met any of its goals." Zimmer believed that such a tax should be paid, but also stated that she believed a voice is needed from Saskatchewan that would bring provincial problems forward in order to find a solution. Craik said that the "alarmist" topic of climate change is too prominent in Canadian minds and that more focus is needed on tangible things that can be tackled right now. Regent, cited Trudeau "buying a $4 billion pipeline" and touched on the Conservatives' lack of climate vision.
Canada's past treatment of Indigenous/First Nations people was another topic, and asked for each candidate's stance on the topic.
Zimmer noted that Canada needs to continue the 94 calls to action, citing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Craik said that everyone needed to come together and approach problems at the same time. Regent echoed Zimmer's sentiment, committed to the calls to action and also referenced the Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women movement (MMIW). Tolmie said the future has to be about making sure we've learned from Canada's past, stating, "We must be part of the solution, without making the same mistakes."
The next question dealt with the candidates' thoughts on banning semi-automatic firearms in Canada.
Craik said that Canada needs to "go after criminals, not guns" and that the firearms themselves aren't the problem. Regent pointed out that the NDP has a "comprehensive plan" based on feedback from the RCMP. Tolmie stated that Canada needs to tackle the laws related to firearms, and that the Liberal party was "punishing the wrong people." Zimmer, meanwhile, stated that, "We don't need assault style weapons to enjoy our lives in Saskatchewan."
The last question of the evening asked the candidates what the biggest challenge was facing Outlook and area.
Regent stated that the biggest challenge was that it had a Conservative representing Outlook and the surrounding regional area, asking, "Where has that left you and your community?" He further stated that the Conservatives and Liberals don't listen and take votes for granted.
"For as long as you continue to vote for the Conservatives, you will never be given anything in return in Ottawa," said Talon. "They think that they can take your vote for granted, they need to give you nothing in return, and you'll still vote 'blue'. Show them that you have a better option available to you!"
Tolmie said that he's long heard that people in this part of the country feel "left out".
"Going around this riding, one of the biggest challenges that I've heard is that we feel left out and we feel not heard, and that's because we've got a Liberal government that's dividing us right now," said Fraser. "While I was here, an announcement was made - a coincidental one - that the Conservative government wants to partner with the provincial government on the Lake Diefenbaker irrigation project, which is $4 billion and essential to overcome drought. Do you know what years we've had drought in this province, according to the University of Regina? 1910, 1914, 1917-21, 1924, 1929, 1931-39, 1958-63, 1967-69, 1974, 1977, 1979-81, 1983-86, 1988-92, 2001-03, and 2009. Farmers rely on the weather to produce crops, and water is essential to this region."
Zimmer stated that people of the riding have been represented by Conservatives who "don't understand agriculture".
"The biggest challenge that this riding has faced is they've been represented by a Conservative who doesn't understand agriculture," said Katelyn. "They don't understand that an irrigation project is going to benefit 2% of farmers, and even then, farmers are going to have to decide whether they want to invest in the equipment and completely change the kind of crops that they grow. What this riding needs is someone who is well-rounded, who is different from the previous elected representative. I believe that more women and more diversity are needed in elective roles. I worry that politics has become a very negative arena to enter into, and that's affecting the quality of candidates who are choosing to run. I would use my own perspective working with livestock, my in-laws' perspective who do not let me forget things like the carbon tax and how it unfairly affects them, and I would take that voice to Ottawa."
Craik believes that the area has been lacking in representation, citing the needs that he has heard about from people who've spoken with him.
"I truly believe that one of the biggest things that we've been lacking is representation," said Chey. "We've had Conservatives across the board in Western Canada, and they've been empty suits. What have they done for us? I will never be an empty suit in Ottawa, I will be the loud and boisterous voice we've never had. Are you happy with the Canada we currently have? Is this the Canada you envisioned? Is this the Canada you worked your whole life for? Is this the Canada you want to pass on to your children and future generations? Is this the Canada our forefathers fought and died for? Is this the Canada described in our national anthem as 'Glorious and free'? Is this the Canada that you want today? I will be your voice: Chey Craik, People's Party of Canada, and I will stand for you!"
Canada votes on Election Day this coming Monday, September 20.