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Maguire no-show at debate

Housing among hot topics at forum

Political candidates in the upcoming federal by-election Cory Szczepanski of the NDP, David Neufeld of the Green Party, Frank Godon of the Libertarian Party and Rolf Dinsdale of the Liberal Party take turns addressing questions from the audience during the Candidates' Forum at the Brandon Friendship Centre on College Avenue on Tuesday afternoon. Conservative Party candidate Larry Maguire chose not to attend the forum.

TIM SMITH / BRANDON SUN Enlarge Image

Political candidates in the upcoming federal by-election Cory Szczepanski of the NDP, David Neufeld of the Green Party, Frank Godon of the Libertarian Party and Rolf Dinsdale of the Liberal Party take turns addressing questions from the audience during the Candidates' Forum at the Brandon Friendship Centre on College Avenue on Tuesday afternoon. Conservative Party candidate Larry Maguire chose not to attend the forum.

Veterans affairs, marijuana, seniors housing and abolishing the Indian Act were just a few of the topics discussed by candidates at a debate hosted by the Brandon Friendship Centre on Tuesday.

Cory Szczepanski of the NDP.

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Cory Szczepanski of the NDP. (TIM SMITH / BRANDON SUN)

Rolf Dinsdale of the Liberal Party

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Rolf Dinsdale of the Liberal Party (TIM SMITH / BRANDON SUN)

David Neufeld of the Green Party

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David Neufeld of the Green Party (TIM SMITH / BRANDON SUN)

Frank Godon of the Libertarian Party.

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Frank Godon of the Libertarian Party. (TIM SMITH / BRANDON SUN)

But it was the missing Conservative candidate, Larry Maguire, who continued to receive attention throughout the two-hour forum.

"I’m very disappointed that the Conservative candidate ... was not able to attend," said Lyndon Bournon, co-ordinator of Brandon Friendship Centre’s adult education program.

"It’s a shame. It’s also a shame for our students because we were obliged to present a balanced view of options in the upcoming election."

Maguire was slated to attend the race’s first all-candidates forum on Tuesday afternoon. But late Monday afternoon, Maguire’s campaign staff cancelled his appearance due to a "scheduling overlap."

Bournon said he negotiated a date that worked for all five candidates three weeks ago. Green Party candidate David Neufeld even rejigged his schedule to attend.

When Bournon made the announcement that just four of the five candidates would be participating at Tuesday’s debate, Maguire received several boos from the crowd of roughly 40 people, and one audience member yelled "what a joke."

The Brandon Sun contacted Maguire’s team for a response regarding the reason he could not attend. His staff said he had appointments in the southern part of the riding Tuesday.

"Meeting with voters from across the constituency is a priority," said an email from the campaign office. "Unfortunately, co-ordinating Larry’s schedule with those of our campaign team’s volunteers sometimes poses a challenge."

Maguire will attend two other debates next week, including the major event at the Keystone Centre hosted by the Brandon Sun, WCGtv and CKLQ on Nov. 21.

Also Monday, Maguire pulled out of next week’s debate organized by Brandon University students, meant to boost voter turnout among young people. Maguire’s staff cited a scheduling conflict with next Monday’s debate.

"It’s really unfortunate it happened," said BU students’ union president Stephanie Bachewich. "We’re definitely disappointed he won’t be able to attend."

It’s the latest stumble for the Conservative campaign. Maguire, a veteran of the Manitoba legislature, should be a shoe-in to win the traditionally Tory riding. Instead, a confusing nomination drama alienated many Conservative voters early on, and two credible polls have Maguire trailing his Liberal challenger, Rolf Dinsdale. The messy race, and the possibility of a Grit upset, has put Brandon-Souris in the national spotlight.

When asked by an audience member if they would consider abolishing the Indian Act, all four candidates said they would.

"Personally, I believe that the Indian act is archaic and should be abolished," said Libertarian candidate Frank Godon. "As an aboriginal person, any act that takes away rights should not be there."

An audience member asked candidates what they would do to alleviate some of the senior housing problems, and referenced the fact that Lions Manor has a 10-year waiting list.

NDP candidate Cory Szczepanski said there is a real need for a national housing strategy.

"Housing is one of the key issues we need to work on," he said. "We need action on it now."

Green candidate David Neufeld urged people in the audience to send a "powerful message" to the Liberal and Conservative parties.

"Why green?" Neufeld asked. The party can give strong leadership on land claims, advocate for true nation-to-nation relationships, increase funding for aboriginal education and safe drinking water, he said.

In his closing remarks, Neufeld said the Brandon-Souris economy, which is doing quite well, is actually quite fragile.

"We need to build a resilient, deep economy and we have the ability here," he said. "We just need to stop being distracted by large corporate interests, as well as parties like the Liberals and Conservatives that keep distracting us, thinking that there’s only those two options."

Before Szczepanski delivered his closing comments, he quipped, "Should Larry go first?" and glanced at an empty chair, which had some people in the crowd laughing and clapping.

"The NDP have policies, they have a plan to end poverty, to work on housing, to work on infrastructure, to work on health care and they need to get into government to be able to put these policies in place," he said. "We’ve been fighting with the same old parties for many years, and we’ve come up with the same old solutions year after year."

Szczepanski said he has the experience and the leadership needed "to build a fairer, cleaner and more prosperous Westman."

Dinsdale also took a swipe at the missing Tory candidate before his closing comments.

"Thanks to my fellow candidates for showing up, including the missing candidate for not showing up because that kind of highlights the situation we’ve had in Brandon-Souris," he said, which sparked applause from the crowd.

Dinsdale said he is committed to changing the way politics are conducted, which he says is why he decided to run.

"Brandon-Souris has been ignored for too long and taken for granted for too long," he said. "The eyes of the nation are watching this b-election … I hope you’ll send me to Parliament and start the renewal process and start the fall of the Stephen Harper government."

Godon urged people to vote for him if they want to send a message to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

"If you’re a Conservative member in Brandon-Souris and you’re not one who likes to be dictated to by the party on who your nominee should be, you have a choice," he said. "If you’re someone who hasn’t voted before because the only choice you had were mainstream parties who will take orders from their leaders, you now have a choice."

Godon concluded with a simple message: Get out and vote on Nov. 25.

"Even if you don’t vote for me, you have a good choice of candidates," he said. "Research. Look into them, look into me and choose the one you want to represent you in Ottawa."

» jaustin@brandonsun.com

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition November 13, 2013

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Brandon Sun, is there any way to find out what % of the electorate within the riding of Brandon-Souris is made up of the First Nations population?

Former PC Mayor Dave Burgess, did NOT show up at an all candidates forum hosted by the young adults of Brandon University either.

There is a PATTERN here.

Let's show up where it is SAFE, where the party mantra can be CONTROLLED, where our views cannot be challenged, perhaps?

As we all know, the young adults within BU had a VERY LARGE say in the outcome within the last municipal election.

The young adults within this riding coupled with the First Peoples should be SO incensed and enraged enough to make ALL the difference in this Federal bi-election.

Is Larry Maguire telling you via his actions and/or non-actions that ONLY the views of the WASP adult, selective views of his PC party base are those that REALLY count and matter to him?

Would you like to send an easily coerced/manipulated puppet to represent the views of his leader or would you actually like to send a REAL representative of most of the people of this riding to Ottawa?

Attitudes and behaviour such as this from someone HOPING to represent his constituents in Ottawa should NEVER be tolerated.

The citizens within this riding DESERVE SO MUCH BETTER than this!

Larry Maguire's actions have spoken MUCH LOUDER than any words that he could ever hope to say in the future and have DISCREDITED him from being a realistic candidate of the people in this riding on Nov. 25

The First Peoples within the riding of Brandon-Souris should be absolutely OUTRAGED that PC boy's club acclaimed candidate Larry Maguire did NOT attend this debate.

IF he claims to want to represent ALL of the constituents within this riding then he SHOULD have been there.

This is a joke, a travesty, an absolute farce, an abomination, it's insulting and it is TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE!

What's even MORE UNACCEPTABLE is that this appears to be a PATTERN of the Conservatives within this riding.

During the Provincial election, PC candidates Mike Waddell and Reg Helwer were ALSO a no-show for the debate called for by the First Nations.

Members of the crowd also stated that former PC MP Merv Tweed never bothered to show up for these debates either.

Well, this is TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE and SHOULD NOT be tolerated at all.

Someone else in the crowd informed us that the PC candidate representing Calgary south ALSO did NOT show up for a debate there hosted by the First Peoples within his riding.

There appears to be an arrogant, pompous attitude that appears to be WIDESPREAD within this PC party regarding the VALUE that they place upon the First Peoples of Canada themselves and ANY issues regarding them.

I would encourage ALL First Peoples within the riding of Brandon-Souris and within ALL ridings within Canada to WAKE UP, RISE UP, GET OUT and vote and show this PC party of Canada what you think about their attitudes towards you.

The POWER of the people lies in the voting electorate

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Veterans affairs, marijuana, seniors housing and abolishing the Indian Act were just a few of the topics discussed by candidates at a debate hosted by the Brandon Friendship Centre on Tuesday.

But it was the missing Conservative candidate, Larry Maguire, who continued to receive attention throughout the two-hour forum.

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Veterans affairs, marijuana, seniors housing and abolishing the Indian Act were just a few of the topics discussed by candidates at a debate hosted by the Brandon Friendship Centre on Tuesday.

But it was the missing Conservative candidate, Larry Maguire, who continued to receive attention throughout the two-hour forum.

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