LLOYDMINSTER - The Lloydminster Chamber of Commerce went ahead with their all-candidates forum Monday, but it was far less well-attended than expected.
The forum, held at Lakeland College, ended up being closed to the public due to a spike in COVID-19 cases in the Lloydminster area. Instead of a live audience, viewers tuned in via live-stream on the Lloydminster Chamber’s YouTube feed.
The event actually consisted of two forums. One featured the candidates from Battlefords-Lloydminster, followed by a separate forum featuring candidates from the Alberta ridfng Lakeland.
Battlefords-Lloydminster candidates who took part included Conservative Rosemarie Falk, Liberal Larry Ingram, New Democrat Erik Hansen, Maverick Ken Rutherford and People’s Party candidate Terry Sieben.
This was the first Chamber all-candidates forum for Sieben after missing out on the previous events organized in North Battleford and in Unity. Not in attendance was Green Party candidate Kerri Wall.
The candidates stuck to familiar campaign themes throughout the forum. There were some fireworks, with the Maverick candidate in particular attempting to paint the incumbent Falk as towing the party line to the detriment of constituents.
On the carbon tax, Rutherford claimed Falk “can’t speak for us” on the issue, because Conservative leader Erin O’Toole had threatened MPs they would “be gone from the caucus if they don’t 100 per cent support climate change.”
That prompted an immediate pushback from the Conservative MP.
“Ken, that is not true,” Falk responded. “I do not support a carbon tax and I’m on record for not supporting a carbon tax.”
She added that O’Toole would respect and honour Premier Scott Moe’s plan for carbon emissions, which had been rejected by the federal government.
“I’d appreciate it if you stopped telling people that I support a carbon tax, because that’s a lie,” Falk said.
Later on, Falk made the point that she hadn’t always voted along party lines. She noted there were a number of instances where she “hadn’t voted along the whip lines, and I was not removed from the party, from caucus or from shadow cabinet.”
Another issue that came up was vote-splitting — pointing to the potential impact of the Mavericks and the People’s Party in preventing the Conservatives from winning enough seats.
For his part, Sieben said people should vote for whoever they wanted to vote for.
“You vote for who you want, and don’t worry about splitting votes, because it’s not going to happen, especially out in the West,” Sieben said.
Falk responded by noting that votes cast for the People's Party ended up costing the Conservatives several seats in the last election.
Rutherford made it clear there was no worry about vote-splitting by the Maverick Party, which was only targeting safe Conservative seats.
“Maverick is only running in areas that will not split votes,” Rutherford noted.
Liberal candidate Ingram found the whole discussion among the right-leaning candidates entertaining.
“What you see here is a Conservative, a Conservative and a Conservative,” said Ingram.
The candidates resume their campaigning this week. Advance polls wrapped up on Monday, with the next big event on the campaign trail being Election Day Sept. 20.
In other news from the campaign, Lloydminster was a stop for Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party tour Sunday night.
Bernier held a rally at the Vic Juba Theatre, part of his recent swing through eastern Alberta. The People's Party leader also made stops in Cold Lake and Fort McMurray Monday.