A candidates’ online forum for the provincial election organized by the Cochrane and District Chamber of Commerce May 24 offered little in the way of surprises, confrontations, or any of the spark of controversy that sometimes accompany panel discussions such as these in the final week before an election.
The four participants – Michael Andrusco (Solidarity Movement of Alberta), Shaun Fluker (Alberta NDP), Peter Guthrie (United Conservative Party), and Ron Voss (Wildrose Loyalty Coalition) – kept to the party lines well-established over the past weeks.
Guthrie, the incumbent, touted the strength of Alberta’s economy, the debt reduction his UCP government has embarked on, and warned the NDP promise to raise corporate income taxes will “make life miserable” for Albertans.
Guthrie added one of the things on the province’s “to do list” would be to “work hard to get rid of Justin Trudeau.”
Fluker said an NDP government would support small business and affordable housing options, rebuild health care, build more schools, and bring a more moderate tone to Albertan governance.
“We need a government that is going to push back against the anger and hate directed towards minorities, and the vulnerable people in our community,” Fluker said. “Alberta needs to tell the world we don’t stand for that.”
Andrusco followed that with his response to the question about where the candidates’ parties stood on racism and discrimination against minorities.
“I’m getting a little bit tired of politicians bending over backward for minority groups,” he said. “When it comes to hate speech and all this stuff, it’s classified as hate speech just because I disagree with somebody.
“We need to be able to disagree and still get along with each other. I think everybody can do what they want, just don’t push everything on me that you believe and not let me believe the way I want to,” he added.
Voss, for his part, said Ottawa was the sole cause of overcrowded schools and shortage of affordable housing.
“Why is this happening? It’s because of uncontrolled immigration, which is determined by Trudeau,” he said. “He’s opened the floodgates – doesn’t matter the numbers, it’s all good.”
Voss argued the UCP government discriminated against Albertans who chose not to be vaccinated.
At the end, when the candidates were asked what they liked about Cochrane and which local charities or organizations they were involved with, all but Voss named their favourites.
Voss instead launched into an attack on the Calgary Metropolitan Regional Board, mainstream media, the World Economic Forum, and “the nonsense of climate change.”
The only candidate registered for Airdrie-Cochrane who did not participate in the forum was the Green Party of Alberta's Michelle Overater-Giles.
The election will be held on Monday, May 29.