Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/9/2011 (3556 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Brandon’s NDP candidates came out swinging against the Progressive Conservatives at an all-candidates forum because their Tory opponents weren’t even in attendance at yesterday afternoon.
While all Brandon candidates were invited two weeks in advance to participate in an afternoon forum at the Brandon Friendship Centre, only NDP candidates Jim Murray and Drew Caldwell and Liberal candidates George Buri and Shaun Cameron showed up.
Noticeably absent were Brandon’s Progressive Conservative candidates Mike Waddell and Reg Helwer, who both told the Sun a previously scheduled meeting prevented them from attending.
However, Caldwell suggested their absences were "shameful" and "repugnant."
"There is a segment of society that does hold views that are, frankly, repugnant in terms of how we collectively interact as peoples," he said. "There is one political party absent from this debate and I think that’s shameful, and I think it’s reflective of that particular segment of thinking ... it is unacceptable to shun Métis and First Nations people in the way that has been done today."
"I wish the PC party candidates were here today," Murray added when asked about his party’s stance on crime. "They like to be the party that is tough on crime. If you believe the approach to that is to beat people down and lock them up, then they are tough on crime. We don’t believe that."
On the issue of crime, Murray suggested that he’d like to see more sentencing circles make their way into the justice system.
"I think if you’re going to sentence young aboriginal people, it needs to be done by people who understand them, their circumstance, where they came from, because there’s more to it than just a courtroom full of white lawyers and judges," he said.
Buri, meanwhile, spoke of the Liberals philosophy of being both tough on crime, but soft on the people committing it.
"Often times, people who commit crimes are drug addicted and we need to get to the causes," Buri said. "A high percentage suffers from (FASD). It’s not their fault. It’s an illness and we need to diagnose it in the early years because we’ve got to start providing support for people with FASD."
Caldwell noted that, upon coming to power in 1999, the NDP restored the funding to the province’s friendship centres that had been cut by the Tories, though he admitted more needs to be done in terms of funding literacy programs.
"We do have a long way to go," he said. "We do need to support literacy programs, particularly at the base level, to allow people to participate in the economy and to realize their full potential as human beings."
The Liberal party, Cameron countered, would provide enticements for aboriginals to further their education by paying up to one and a half years of a person’s post-secondary education.
"I think the Liberals coming forward with committing to post-secondary education and committing to help cover some of those costs may spur people to come back in and ensure that their literacy skills are a level to move foward so that they can take advantage of post-secondary opportunities," he said.
Other questions posed to candidates at the forum, which was attended by a sparse crowd of 20 or so people, included ones of better shelter allowances and rental guidelines, access to health care and general respect for the First Nations culture.
Brandon’s fringe candidates — Communist Party candidate Lisa Gallagher and Green Party candidate Vanda Fleury — did not attend yesterday’s forum, though the Greens did send their candidate from Riding Mountain, Signe Knutson, to pinch hit for the Winnipeg-based Fleury.
Yesterday’s forum was the last one that has been scheduled in Brandon prior to the Oct. 4 election.