NDP candidate targets Liberal incumbent in Guelph's first federal candidates debate

Global National Ottawa correspondent, Mike Le Couteur, breaks down highlights from the second French-language debate and what to expect in the English debate on Sept. 9.

Guelph’s Liberal Party incumbent Lloyd Longfield had to repeatedly hit the rebuttal button during Thursday’s debate ahead of the federal election.

The NDP’s Aisha Jahangir came after the Liberal party’s record early and often in Thursday’s discussion hosted via Zoom by the Guelph Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Guelph and District Association of Realtors.

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Jahangir started things off in her opening statement by warning voters to not elect parties that have failed to deliver on their promises.

“To get different results, we must make different choices,” said Jahangir, a registered nurse who is running in her second federal election.

“What we need right now is the courage to act together and that is exactly what New Democrats offer to Canadians and what I want to offer to the people of Guelph.”

In his remarks, Longfield said the last 18 months in the pandemic have been the toughest that Canada has faced in over a generation. He even admitted there are a lot of cracks in the health care system and the government has to do better.

“That job has to be front and centre,” he said “We have many issues that we have to face, but one common thing is that we have to face them together.”

Longfield is seeking a third term as Guelph’s MP after first being elected in 2015.

Jahangir called out Longfield during a discussion about affordable housing. She accused the Liberals of offering subsidies to developers who do nothing for those looking to rent.

Longfield shot back with a Liberal promise to spend $1 billion to help municipalities cut red tape around the permitting process.

“We need to bridge the gap with municipalities in terms of the cost of implementing better housing programs,” he said.

Jahangir then accused Longfield and Liberals of promising universal childcare for decades.

“They should have taken care of families a long time ago,” she said. “Childcare, in fact, is the most smartest investment we can make in our future and our economy.”

Jahangir added that the NDP plans on making affordable child care available for all Canadians.

Longfield said he’s looking forward to seeing Ontario getting on board with a plan to spend $30 billion over the next five years to cut child care costs to an average of $10 a day.

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They had committed to bilateral agreements on that pledge with eight provinces and two territories before Parliament was dissolved.

Longfield then added that a child care plan under the Paul Martin government was going ahead until the NDP and Conservatives forced an election in 2005.

“Then we had 10 years of Stephen Harper not implementing childcare,” he said.

Jahangir then had one of her own rebuttals to that statement.

“It was nice for you to mention and remind everyone of 10 years of Harper, but I am going to remind you and everyone else that we’ve had six years of Trudeau,” she said. “Childcare is long overdue.”

Conservative candidate Ashish Sachan accused the Liberals of “out of control” spending that is putting health care at risk.

“(Trudeau) will be forced to raise taxes or cut funding to important social services like health care if the current spending is not brought under control in a responsible fashion,” he said.

On the topic of having COVID-19 vaccine credentials, Longfield and Jahangir agreed that everyone in Canada should have to show proof, while Sachan said Canadians have the right to make their own choices about getting vaccinated.

Green Party candidate Michelle Bowman said the mistrust of science needs to be addressed.

“We really have to take a good look and ask why people mistrust science, mistrust government, and build that trust back,” she said.

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The entire debate will be posted on the Chamber of Commerce’s YouTube page on Friday. The candidates are also set to take part in another debate on Friday, hosted by 1460 CJOY.

Canadians go to the polls on Sept. 20.

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