UPDATED: Chamber of Commerce hosts candidates' forum

Wednesday evening the general public had an opportunity to hear what the candidates for the Yorkton-Melville riding had to say.

Four of them at least, as Connor Moen, candidate for the Liberal Party did not attend.

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Four of the candidates Carter Antoine of the New Democrats, Ryan Schultz candidate for, the People’s Party of Canada, Cathay Wagantall the incumbent, for the Conservative Party, and Stacey Wiebe the candidate for the Green Party attended the debate hosted by the Yorkton Chamber of Commerce.

A good-sized crowd was in attendance at the All Candidates’ Forum at the Gallagher Centre to hear answers to a series of five questions prepared by the Chamber, as well as questions from the audience as time allowed.

Not surprisingly the initial questions focused on business.

The first related to the Canadian Chamber’s recommendations as outlined in its Vote Prosperity document, which has as one of the priorities a tax system that is fair, efficient and modern. The question sought to learn what each candidate’s party, if they formed the next government, would do in regard to a plan and timeline to return the federal books to balance.

Wagantall was the first to reply suggesting a Conservative government would be “working toward a balanced budget within five years.” She said her party would be focused on operating “within our means.”

Antoine was more specific in the how the NDP would balance the books suggesting the answer is not corporate tax cuts that never seem to generate the economic spin off that they are suggested to do.

Instead Antoine said the NDP would work “to close the tax loopholes” big business has access to that individuals do not.

“What we need is a fair tax system where the wealthiest pay their share,” he said.

The PPC would be the most aggressive in terms of balancing the budget, said Schultz who stated his party would achieve it in two years. The balancing would be achieved through a series of funding cuts which he noted would include corporate welfare, foreign aid for all but humanitarian reasons, and funding to large newspaper media and the CBC.

Wiebe said the Green Party would look to raise more dollars by generating new tax dollars on Internet businesses, offshore holdings, and through a surcharge on bank profits.

The second question also related to the Vote Prosperity document, with the Canadian Chamber seeking a healthier pharmacare system for Canadian. The question asked what each party would do to build on the existing system without reducing or replacing coverage already covering 90 per cent of Canadians.

This time Wiebe was first to respond, suggesting the Green Party would “expand” pharmacare “for everyone”.

Antoine too suggested his party would look to expand pharmacare because it is not fair that people currently have “to skip medications because they can’t afford them. ... You should never have to make the choice between the rent and medications.”

Wagantall said caution is required in regard to broadening pharmacare.

“This would cost an incredible amount of money,” she said, adding “the majority of Canadians already enjoy significant coverage.”

While a Conservative government would be dedicated to every Canadian having access to their needed drugs, Wagantall said how that is achieved has to be carefully thought out.

Schultz said the PPC would take a decidedly different approach because “health care is not the jurisdiction of the federal government ... It is the jurisdiction of the provinces.”

With that in mind Schultz said the PPC would work to reduce federal taxes, allowing the provinces to in-turn raise taxes to do as they see fit in areas they are responsible for, such as health care which would include pharmacare.

For additional insight into the positions of the local candidates on various issues Yorkton This Week sent a list of ten questions to each of the five candidates running in the Yorkton-Melville riding in the 2019 Federal Election. Every day from Oct. 9 to Oct. 18, we will post one questions and the candidate answers, starting here.

Yorkton-Melville heads to the polls on Oct. 21.


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