Josh Bergant, News Reporter
A lively debate hosted by the Daily Bread Food Bank and LAMP Community Health Centre invited some tough questions for the federal election candidates in Etobicoke-Lakeshore.
The debate mainly centred around the topics of housing and food security. Each candidate was allowed two minutes to speak on questions pertaining to these topics followed by panel discussion fielding questions from the audience.
The debate — which neither the Conservative or the People’s Party of Canada candidates attended — was in the format of a town hall.
James Maloney, the Liberal incumbent, highlighted several programs and policies enacted by the federal government in the past four years.
“Our government reduced the small business tax rates,” he said. “It’s clearly worked. You see all kinds of new businesses opening up along Lakeshore and elsewhere. It’s really good to see.”
Maloney said the Liberals currently support the implementation and continuation of programs such as universal Pharmacare, a national housing policy, a national food policy and the Canadian child benefit.
He also reaffirmed the Liberal’s promise to end all boil water advisories on First Nations. “It’s disgraceful that we’re still having boil water advisories,” Maloney said. “We need to be working towards removing those completely in the future.”
Branko Gasperlin promised many things if the NDP were chosen to form government. These promises mainly centred around new programs.
“We would bring back the basic income pilot project the Ford government scrapped,” he said. “It was working and it should be brought back on a national scale so no one provincial government can up and scrap it altogether.”
Gasperlin said the NDP hopes to build 500,000 units of housing in five years.
“My mother and father have lived in the same house for over 30 years,” he said. “It’s tough seeing people have to leave their homes and not being able to reinvest/buy into the community again.”
Gasperlin said the NDP wants to implement a universal Pharmacare program and that the Liberals have lagged behind on implementing it.
“It’s a damn shame people struggle in this community,” he said. “The NDP and myself want to change to change that.”
Chris Caldwell of the Green Party focused his responses around climate change and sustainability. “We need a different path,” he said. “Our unity lies in the salvation of nature. We must take care of our democracy.”
Caldwell said the Green Party wants to develop medium density housing that relies entirely on renewable energy, implementing a food sharing and recycling program, and naming a housing minister that would oversee all housing issues in Canada.
“EtobicokeLakeshore has the potential to become a new epicentre for green, renewable development in Canada,” he said.
Reaction from the audience was mixed. Some voiced displeasure with how the Conservatives ran their campaign in EtobicokeLakeshore. Others like Rebecca Cartwright, a York University nursing student enjoyed the debate experience as a whole.
Cartwright said she attended the debate primarily to complete a report for one of her classes but was disappointed at the lack of discussion about student issues.