Federal Candidates Debate in Westmount—Ville-Marie

The candidates for the 2011 federal election in the Westmount–Ville-Marie riding gathered at Victoria Hall this past Wednesday to debate one another in the run-up to the election on May 2.

The Link originally published that the debate took place at Unity Hall, when indeed it took place at Victoria Hall. The Link regrets the error.

Seven of the eight candidates running in the riding of over 100,000 people gathered to debate such topics as new prisons, the national deficit, Bill 101, First Nations issues and the fate of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, to name a few.

The night started off with each candidate giving their opening remarks. Then, for close to an hour and a half, the candidates took questions on a range of issues from members of the community.

The debate was largely focused around the incumbent Liberal candidate, Marc Garneau, and Conservative candidate Neil Drabkin, both of whom had the most questions directed at them.

Drabkin spent a majority of his time trying to differentiate himself from Garneau. His main talking point was that he and the Conservatives are tough on crime ,while Garneau and the Liberals, on the other hand, are not.

“You can be sure that from a Conservative government, serious criminals will be put behind bars for as long as it takes for them to rehabilitate,” said Drabkin. “That is in stark contrast to Mr. Garneau, who is soft on crime.”

“[The Liberals] have a soft on crime approach to things. They don’t think we need to build any new prisons because they don’t think that serious offenders need to be in prisons,” he said.

Garneau countered Drabkin’s assertion that he and the liberals are soft on crime by highlighting that the national crime rate has been decreasing for the past ten years.

“We don’t need to build more jails. What we do need to do is use the precious resources we do have available [and put them] into prevention; put it into social and community programs to prevent the development of criminals,” he said.

He went on to say that he is just as tough on serious criminals as Drabkin, who he accused of both “hypocrisy and pompousness.”

Other candidates present included Joanne Corbeil of the NDP, Andrew Carkner of the Green Party, Victoria Haliburton of the Rhinoceros Party, and Bill Sloan of the Communist Party.

The only candidate who did not show up was Véronique Roy of the Bloc Québecois, who, according to a recent article in the Westmount Examiner , has been difficult to reach in the lead-up to the election.

The debate was organized by the Examiner . Wayne Larsen, its Editor-in-Chief and a professor of journalism at Concordia, said this was the 12th year the paper has hosted debates for either municipal, provincial, or federal elections in the Westmount area.