Debate focuses on trade, Canada-US relations

Federal election debate hosted by the Windsor Regional Chamber of Commerce, October 1, 2019. (Photo by Maureen Revait)

The federal election debate hosted by the Windsor Regional Chamber of Commerce left local voters with a lot to consider.

The chamber hosted three rounds of debates, one for each local riding, Essex, Windsor-Tecumseh and Windsor-West.  Members from the Liberal, Conservative, NDP and Green parties all attended the debates.

All three debates centered on whether voters want to continue with NDP representation or if more can get done with a “seat at the table.”

“I’ve worked across party lines for solutions to our challenges, I view that as a strength, not a weakness. I brought Windsor’s voice to Ottawa and I don’t make excuses for Ottawa or Toronto in Windsor,” said NDP candidate Brian Masse.

But Liberal candidate Sandra Pupatello also spoke about her record at the provincial level and how having a minister with the governing party helps to get things done.

Conservative candidate Henry Lau doesn’t think voters should be impressed with either of the candidates’ experience in politics.

“Seventeen years of NDP in Windsor at the federal level and 16 years of Liberal in Windsor at the provincial level and yet they still could not help you to get ahead,” said Lau. “As a problem solver and a job creator, with your support, I can bring our local issues and requests to Ottawa.”

Canada-US relations and trade was also a common thread throughout all three debates.

Candidates with the NDP  have recently talked about reopening discussions to improve aspects of the new trade deal.

“The NDP is eager to be part of a collaborative process and when the new NAFTA as its called is not being ratified because of certain glaring issues regarding fair trade that means that we need to revisit it,” said NDP candidate for Windsor-Tecumseh Cheryl Hardcastle.

Liberal candidate for Windsor-Tecumseh, Irek Kusmierczyk, said it’s a good deal and that’s why the Liberals signed it.

“I was alarmed to hear that the NDP would work to renegotiate this deal. That creates a level of uncertainty that both workers and our manufacturers simply cannot risk at this point,” said Kusmierczyk.

Pupatello reiterated concerns about reopening those discussions.

“We don’t deserve MPs that want to rip up NAFTA, our very livelihood, I’m not letting this go you’re not getting off this matt wanting to tear up NAFTA, it’s what our community deserves and that is to be pro-trade,” said Pupatello.

The trade deal also came up in the Essex debate as the candidates discussed how they would improve agriculture in the region.

NDP Candidate Tracey Ramsey said the agreement failed farmers and more needs to be done to support them.

“We don’t have to look too far but to the recently negotiated trade agreements that have sold our supply management farms down the river by death of a thousand cuts,” said Ramsey. “The first thing we can do is to make sure that they are properly compensated and we commit to never negotiating trade agreements that we sacrifice our family farms and the health of our food.

Conservative candidate Chris Lewis said his party’s plans would make farming more sustainable.

“The first thing we’re going to do is we’re going to eliminate the carbon tax because quite frankly all that does is add to the cost, be it fertilizer, be it diesel fuel, be it import taxes on our farming equipment, that’s the number one things we’re going to do to help our farmers,” said Lewis. “The second thing we’re going to do is actually have good foreign policy relations across the world so we don’t stop the likes of canola or dairy products from being exported from this great place we call Canada.”

The full debate will be available online at YourTV Windsor. The federal election is October 21, 2019.