Absent candidates draw criticism at debate

STORY BY CHANELLE FAGON-TURNER, ERIN QUEENAN, CONNOR RIDLEY

The federal Conservative candidates were a no-show at all three of Sheridan’s debates Oct 1. The glaring absences drew strong criticism from the other parties’ candidates who did attend.

“That is revealing in itself,” said Che Marville, New Democratic Party candidate for Oakville. “This speaks volumes about what they value and who they value.”

Invited were candidates from Mississauga, Oakville and Brampton, representing the Liberal, Conservative, New Democratic and Green parties for three separate debates. The event was live streamed on Sheridan TV with Broadcast Journalism students providing the show.

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Alghabra, Nguyen and Khan from Mississauga centre discuss Bill C-24 with Broadcast student Chantal Prescod. 

Mississauga Centre candidates faced questions on the student debt crisis, and disputes between the NDP and Liberal candidates.

Liberal candidate Omar Alghabra, a Syrian immigrant, said his party’s plans were to phase out interest on student loans and create 74,000 new grants for students. More highlights included jabs made toward the absent Conservative party. Alghabra accused the current government of being “about ideology and divide.”

Later in the debate, the candidates gave their thoughts on Bill C-24- a bill that would allow government to revoke citizenships.All candidates agreed that Bill C-24 should be rescinded, but NDP candidate Farheen Khan proposed that Bill C-24 wasn’t the only problematic bill.

“Why isn’t Bill C-51 the same thing?” asked Khan, referring the new anti-terror bill. The other candidates agreed that it’s another bill that should be revoked because it gives the government too much power.

Liberal Alghabra claimed that the Liberal party was the only party that had a detailed outline on how to fight it. The candidates also discussed healthcare. Green candidate Nguyen advocated for free public dental care for those under 18.

Liberal candidate Alghabra accused the Conservative government of failing to modernize healthcare, then accused the NDP of struggling to balance their budget and platform. NDP candidate Khan responded by predicting that Liberals “will cut programs again.”

The second debate featured candidates from the Oakville riding including NDP candidate Marville and Green party candidate David Doel. Conservative candidate Terrence Young and Liberal candidate John Oliver were not present.

When they discussed education, Marville opted for cheaper education, criticizing the government for “making money off of young people.” Doel recommended that Canada look at Norway as an example of exceptionally low tuition costs, and proposed that tuition be free by 2020.

Later Marville tried to appeal to undecided voters and potential non-Conservative voters.

“Nine-point-three million people didn’t vote in the last election,” she said, pointing out that those potential voters outweighed the number of votes Harper won. The NDP and Green candidates agreed that unpaid internships and Bill C-51 needed to be abolished.


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The final debate also included only NDP and Green candidates from the Brampton West and South ridings, leading to further criticism of the Conservative and Liberal no-shows. “I’m surprised by all the candidates declining,” said NDP candidate Amarjit Sangha.

Both parties disagreed on very little that evening, both wanted to lower tuition cost, and both thought that Bill C-24 and Bill C-51 should be revoked. They also agreed that Canadians don’t know enough about Brampton despite its growth in past years, and that not enough investment was being put into Brampton.

The event started as a second-year Broadcast Journalism class project and snowballed into something Sheridan Production House, and other media students were a part of, and was covered by the Oakville Beaver.

Max August, a student television producer, found it to be an interesting experience. “We were kind of figuring it out as we go. This is as real life as I’ve gotten so far.”

For two weeks teachers and students became co-workers, emailing each other at 4:30 a.m. and calling each other on weekends. As a producer, a large part August’s role involved working behind the scenes, scheduling, preparing and organizing while doing class assignments and homework in between.

“When it came time for the actual show, the team got it done. I was almost able to lay back and watch everything unfold. Just like those awesome dominoes that people put videos of up on YouTube.”

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One Response to Absent candidates draw criticism at debate

  1. christopher pratt October 16, 2015 at

    I may not be entirely objective. But I would still like to comment on what I see as an oversimplification.

    True, John Oliver was one of the candidates who did not attend on October 1st. However, this does not speak “volumes about what [he] values and who [he] values” either, as implied by his opponent from the NDP.

    Perhaps Oliver simply had prior commitments, though I am in no position to say.

    I would like to point out though that similar to the NDP and Green Party, the Liberal’s too have a platform which, in part, is geared towards students. This includes a program that aims to create 40,000 youth jobs a year, over the next three years. In light of this, the statement by Che Marville is highly subjective.

    And yes, I believe this matters. Because there were only a handful of people at the debate, in the audience, other than those involved with it’s broadcast. But the reach of this article, appearing both print and online, is substantially wider. With so few witnessing the debate first hand, choices made in regards to its coverage influence how it is perceived.

    In such a context, the prominence given to Marville’s quote is problematic. That is, without any acknowledgment that the “no-shows“ had reasons of their own for not participating. Possibly something other than an indifference to students. Even the Conservatives.

    So I urge everyone to google the missing candidates and their platforms. Then vote accordingly.