By Chad Ingram
If any of the HKLB federal hopefuls thought Monday night’s all-candidates’ meeting was going to be a peaceful stroll through the woods of the Haliburton Highlands, they were wrong.
Hosted by CARP, this was not your grandma’s tea party.
For two hours, an overflowing crowd of Haliburton County residents (there were more than 350 people in attendance) hammered candidates with questions.
Really, really good questions.
How would you close tax loopholes to prevent corporations from storing money in offshore tax havens?
What is going on with the F-35 contract and will we ever know the true price of these planes?
Following a Supreme Court decision earlier this year, why hasn’t assisted-suicide legislation yet been tabled?
There were questions about lake protection, Internet access, small business incentives and mitigating poverty.
I’d assumed I’d use this space to write about the stars of Monday’s debate, which I suppose I am.
The stars were the residents of Haliburton County, demonstrating what an intelligent, educated, politically literate population exists in this community, a community that, in some ways, doesn’t have very much.
There was a strong sense of, “what can you do for us?”
As there should be.
Residents applauded boisterously when they heard something they liked and didn’t fail to scoff when they felt they were being fed hollow partisan rhetoric.
Many who lined up to ask questions are community leaders in their own right, with strong understandings of and visions for Haliburton County.
It was a matter of assessing which candidate best suited that vision, and not which party Haliburton County could best align itself with.
As it should be.
There have been many times when I’ve been overwhelmingly proud to be part of this community and Monday night was one of those times.
All four candidates performed really well, by the way. These are competent guys who know their stuff. I’ve seen a few federal elections in Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock now and would argue that on the whole, this is the strongest pack of candidates we’ve had during my time here.
Thank you to Jamie Schmale, Bill MacCallum, David Marquis and Mike Perry for attending and for putting themselves out there in general. It’s not an easy thing to do.
Thank you to Jim Blake for moderating, CARP for hosting and the Ontario Retired Teachers’ Association for the rental of the room.
This is going to be a close one. Vote on.