WINCHESTER — The federal all-candidates meeting here was a cordial — even friendly and convivial — affair that drew about 130 people to see S-D-SG’s five candidates at the Joel Steele Community Centre hall.
Co-hosted by the North Dundas Chamber of Commerce and the Dundas Federation of Agriculture, the Oct. 10 event also served as Conservative candidate Eric Duncan’s first federal election “debate” in front of a hometown crowd since the former North Dundas mayor landed the Tory banner following the retirement of longtime MP Guy Lauzon. That fact likely helped to fill the seats that evening — even as farmers were noticeably absent with the harvest now fully underway.
Heather Megill of the Liberals, Raheem Aman of the Greens, Sabile Trimm of the People’s Party of Canada and the NDP’s Kelsey Catherine Schmitz also presented their party’s respective messages from the dais. Critiques of each other’s platforms, when they occurred, were straightforward and without much of an edge. The few real “punches” thrown came from questions in the audience.
Duncan found himself taking a position to the left of the People’s Party — rejecting as irresponsible its call for a balanced budget within two years — but to the right of the Liberals, alleging the Grits had no plan to eliminate the deficit before 2040.
Among other topics, candidates fielded questions on climate change, trade with China and support for agriculture as well as supply management. In the middle of dairy country, Trimm nonetheless made her party’s case that supply management had to go as a policy unfair to both consumers and farmers.
Caught up in a traffic jam in Kingston, Aman arrived several minutes late and relied on local Green Party organizer Elaine Kennedy to stand in for him during opening statements.
There was an undeniable atmosphere of camaraderie between the candidates; Schmitz even briefly draped her orange scarf on Duncan’s shoulders after the contenders shook hands after the event.
Election Day is Oct. 21st, but advance polls open today (Oct. 11) through Oct. 14.
This article was edited to revise the number of attendees downward.