Monday, October 6, 2008

Haldimand "Federal Election 2008 Candidates Debate in Kohler"

I forgot to post this the other day. This is an article by Karen Best. I also attended the debate in Kohler and I will post a blog later on my view after all the Candidates debates are over. I will also post shortly the article on the Dunnville Debate from last week.

Finley and Hoskins go head to head in Kohler


Eric Hoskins and Diane Finley threw barbs at one another at the first Haldimand County all candidate meetings.

Hoskins, the Liberal candidate, accused Finley, the Conservative candidate, of abandoning Caledonia and tobacco farmers and suggested she was not accessible to her constituents. She retorted saying she attends meetings like the one on Sept. 30.

The pair sparred several times at the meeting hosted by the Haldimand Federation of Agriculture. Earlier in the meeting, independent candidate Gary McHale predicted the two would engage in such exchanges.

The other three candidates sitting in front of an audience of 100 were Steve Elgersma of the Christian Heritage Party, Stephana Johnston of the Green Party and Ian Nichols of the New Democratic Party.

After receiving 13 questions on the Caledonia issue, federation scrutinizers condensed them into one question: what will the candidates do about the problem in Caledonia.

"I will sit down at the table and I'm not leaving until it's settled," declared Nichols.

McHale had a lot more to say. Along with arresting criminals and applying the law equally, he would negotiate with peaceful natives. He also wanted government to change the rules so victims of violence could sue or put a lien on native bands . "I guarantee you the violence will go away," he said.

Presently $100 million worth of lawsuits are filed over Caledonia and it will be the taxpayers who will make the payments, he pointed out.

Under the Green Party's longer range view, it wanted a livable world where non violence prevailed and social justice existed, said Johnston. With environment and health integrated, the Green vision included grass roots democracy where people share power and look out for one another and the common good.

Hoskins stood up to say this dispute cannot continue for another two-and-a-half years. "This is a perfect example of local leadership where your local MP needs to own this," he said about working with people to find a solution. "If there's one thing Diane should be on the job for it is being on the ground and working her butt off to find a solution to this situation."

He was answered by loud applause.

When he related a conversation where a Caledonia resident alleged that Finley said she could do nothing as it was not her department, Finley turned and said not true three times.

Hoskins ying he would never say it's not his problem. Along with getting the Prime Minister personally involved, the Liberal government would make the Six Nations issue a priority in Canada. He said daily negotiations, deadlines and targets are necessary to move talks.

The Liberal candidate also accused Harper's government for lack of interest and lack of hard work by those responsible to get a settlement done. In his last statement, he said Stephen Harper was wrong in saying he did not need to go to Caledonia because it is a provincial responsibility when it was a federal responsibility.

Finley started out saying that Stephan Dion had not once mentioned Caledonia in the House of Commons. "What if the deadline passes?" she asked. One audience answer was, "Cut off the money."

Negotiations are the only way to reach resolution but there is no easy solution, Finley pointed out. If there was, the great minds working on this would have found it by now.
Laughter rippled through the audience.

Finley insisted that Dalton McGuinty and the OPP enforce the rule of law. People guffawed. Continuing non plussed, she said she looked forward to a peaceful solution as soon as possible.
"Personally I want to continue to work with Haldimand County as I have done on many many occasions throughout this helping them save millions of dollars in policing costs,"said Finley. "I also want to work with them to develop infrastructure that will help them recover including the damage that this occupation has caused."

She denounced Hoskins's deadline suggestion as glib and simple. "They do not demonstrate an understanding of the situation," Finley added.

Elgersma wanted to see an aboriginal parliament established as recommended in the 1996 report by the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. The parliament would act as an advisory board to the House and eventually replace Indian and Northern Affairs Canada and take over its $700 billion budget. He said written records should be examined to look for proof of purchase of lands.

A member of the audience asked candidates how they will be accessible and accountable if elected. "That's what we're doing here tonight, isn't it,"Finley replied. "This is called being accountable."

From the back of the room, a man yelled, "Does that mean you will be in Dunnville Thursday (Oct. 2) night?"

The audience laughed and applauded. She did not answer.

Elgersma defended Finley saying "she may have a legitimate reason not to be". He missed an all candidate meeting scheduled on the day of his son's wedding.

"You'll see me. You might get sick of the face but I will be working for you," said Nichols.
If elected, he will spend time on the streets when he is not in Ottawa answering questions and collecting concerns and input.

Some people think accountability is being available to speak to when they are seeking votes, said McHale. Over the past two and a half years, he was around and renting halls for meetings and his contact information is available on the internet. "And you know for a fact when something is going on, the best place to find me is exactly where the problem is," he added.

Johnston said she was a strong believer in town hall meetings and hoped to hold her first one on Oct. 15.

Voters will judge accountability and representation, said Hoskins. "There's no more important issue than Caledonia right now and finding a solution to that impasse," he stated.
If elected, his campaign office in Caledonia will become a constituency office. "So I can be accessible, and I can be accountable so nobody will be putting up signs that say where is Eric Hoskins," he added.

Another hot topic was tobacco transition. Hoskins said members of all other parties but the Conservatives supported a Liberal party proposal to pay $1.74 a pound for tobacco quota. Much later Finley announced the Conservative offer, and he wondered in the deal would withstand the result of the election.

Finley said yes and pointed out that the Liberals offered one-third of tobacco players a buy out plan four years ago and forced farmers to compete against each other in a reverse auction. In response to her question about Dion delivering his plan, Hoskins stood and committed to it.
In closing remarks, Nichols reported that many people feel they are not being represented. To address that, he will meet with residents and county councils and will release information on how concerns were addressed and what is happening in Ottawa.

"I will work very hard because I will be so honoured to have your vote....and be able to stop the big corporations from stealing our money," he concluded.

For McHale, an MP is an advocate and is passionate about issues their constituents face. Referring to his activities over the past two years, he said he demonstrated commitment to fighting on behalf of people in the area. On Sept. 30, he was in court to file charges against members of the Haudenosaunee Development Institute who were extorting money from others, he stated.

"There has to be practical solutions for the real problems people are facing," he said. And MPs must fight for them regardless of personal costs.

Johnston asked people to watch Green Party leader Elizabeth May in the leaders debate and added that she didn't cross McHale's path because she ventured into Six Nations to distribute materials on proportional voting.

Hoskins held himself up as a person of integrity, honesty and trust putting voters in the driver's seat. The people select an MP who they believe will stand up for them and help them face challenges.

"Also more importantly, (a MP who) will also put community before politics," he concluded.
Finley explained that she flew to Ottawa every Monday night, worked 12 hour days on behalf of constituents and returned Friday to the riding to meet people and attend events. As a minister, she is required to represent the federal government across Canada and abroad, she p>Over the past year, Finley has undergone a few eye surgeries and is now able to drive again. Despite these other commitments, she attended 300 official events in the two counties. She said she is part of the community because this is her home.

Finley concluded saying Harper can provide security in uncertain times and has a proven track record of getting thins done.

Opening statements provided further insight into candidates, Elgersma spoke about the supremacy of God, said women used abortion as birth control and delared homosexuality as evil.
Finley itemized promises kept including reductions in GST, decreases in federal taxes for families, crack downs on violent and drug related crimes, and environmental protection. On the agricultural side, the Conservative government announced the Growing Forward program and its $1.3 billion in July.

Aso in July, the Conservative government announced a $286 million buy out program for Norfolk County tobacco farmers and $15 million for communities adapting to related economic changes.

Recognizing voters were in control, Hoskins said he would support farmers and work for their prosperity so they can make a living in that honourable profession. His party will encourage local food purchases which are safe and of high quality.

Johnston congratulated audience members for participating in democracy. The North American Free Trade Agreement is destroying farming communities when people should be buying locally, she added. This approach is interconnected with the economy and the environment, sated Johnston. Advocating stewardship of the soil and water, she also wanted to see half of student loans to be interest free until the graduate is earning a livable income.

McHale predicted Liberal and Conservative parties would deny playing a role in creating problems facing the riding today. He promised to be a thorn government's side and speak out on behalf of Haldimand Norfolk. "I will not back down. I will not be intimidated," he announced.
He mentioned that Finley and Hoskins had the opportunity to get out when they people were suffering and stand beside them. "That's what I'm going to do," McHale stated.

Nichols said he stood up as a candidate after 30 years of watching the federal government banter back and forth. "And we don't get anything," he said.

Along with a dire need for more local jobs, assistance is crucial for farmers. "Fields are empty and at the end of the lanes there are for sale signs," he said.

So residents need hope and opportunity coming from real change in federal government, said Nichols. He wanted tougher pollution laws for corporations and more physicians.

On land claims, he said both parties need someone they respect to sit at the negotiating table and more information for the public on this. "They are keeping us in the dark and feeding us like mushrooms," said Nichols.

Most of the questions received from audience were related to agriculture. On food safety and listeriosis, Nichols called for more food inspectors and accountability to the public, a point Johnston also championed. McHale took it further in suggesting a watch dog to expose facts to the public.

Hoskins pointed out that the Canadian Medical Association blamed Stephen Harper's government for the listeriosis outbreak. Doctors linked it directly to risky decisions in reversing progress on public health. For example, the Conservative government left cold meat inspection up to the meat industry.

In response, Finley said the government took the initiative on food safety in hiring 200 inspectors and launching a food safety and quality program.

On how the green shift will benefit farmers, Hoskins described farmers as the first environmentalists. He referred to praise from the Canadian Federation of Agriculture and reduced reliance on fossil fuel.

Finley said farmers will be most affected and will be challenged to keep up with the competition while paying higher fuel costs. Nichols suggested talking to farmers to determine what they need.

McHale said this was a new tax disguised with a green label and promised to fight against any new taxes. Johnston took a broader look to point out that people are killing the earth and it has to stop but denounced the green shift as it allowed corporations to pay for the privilege to pollute.

To improve health care, McHale advocated tax incentives so doctors and nurses will practice in the rural area. Johnston recommended preventative measures to reduce or avoid illness. The Liberal remedy was $400 million to train and place new doctors and nurses in urban and rural areas, said Hoskins. Drug safety and expediting acceptance of foreign doctors are part of the Conservative strategy, stated Finley. Nichols said the NDP want to see a 50 per cent increase in doctors and nurses, expanded home care and cuts in hospital waits.

With senior citizens out pacing those under 30 in the farm business, candidates were asked for ideas to make agriculture an attractive career.

Johnston suggested creation of a college program for Grade 10 students to introduce them to the industry at a young age. The first priority is protecting current farmers and to hear solutions provided by farmers, said Hoskins. With costs of herbicides and other materials rising, farming requires a significant investment, said Finley who pointed out 233 agricultural research projects are underway across Canada. Elgersma said grants should be provided. Viability of current farmers comes first and will be best achieved by eliminating NAFTA, said Nichols. After watching parents lose money, children are unlikely to farm because they need money to do the job, said McHale who vowed to fight for the farmers.

On dropping production in Canada and increased government spending, Finley said the government is creating jobs by encouraging companies with business friendly policies and keeping costs down by not adding a carbon tax. If people give tithes to church, God will fill their baskets to the brim, said Elgersma about economic well being. Rolling back tax cuts for big business and a $50 billion investment in Haldimand Norfolk would make a big difference in Haldimand Norfolk, said Nichols. McHale said he would be the only one to champion riding residents' causes six months after the election.

Johnston wanted to see green jobs growing in the riding instead of purchasing California wind turbines and European solar panels. Under the green shift, diesel will rise less than five per cent starting in the fourth year but it went up 45 cents a litre under Harper, said Hoskins. He didn't raise it, interjected Finley. The issue is does one believe in the climate change issue or not, he volleyed back.

Someone asked if candidates would recall the long gun registry. Only Hoskins said no.
Article ID# 1230565


  1. Gary McHale told the crowd at the Caledonia debate that if the Haldimand Tract claim turns out to be valid that all lands should be returned to six nations. Did he tell everyone this in Caledonia?

  2. *

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    Are you a partisan?

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  3. Thanks for your commnets.

    Gary McHale made no mention of this at the Kohler debate. It does raise a flag for me as to what he meant, regardless it did come out of his mouth in Caledonia and does have a few people wondering.

  4. I asked Gary about this and here was his reply.

    One sentence taken out of context is not how to judge 2.5 years of a repeated messages. I have been very clear on this issue and stated that the court should decide this issue not politicians. As such the Supreme Court has already ruled that land claims are to be settling the following way:

    1) If land being claimed is crown land then the Government can give the land back or buy the land.

    2) If land is in private ownership the land CANNOT be return and the Government must offer other land or offer cash.

    The Supreme Court has ruled and my point is merely to state that is the land claim is legal than settle them – give the land back if it is government land or pay them the money – stop delaying. Based on the Supreme Court ruling I have no problem with the Government given back the land if the claim is valid… of course, that can ONLY be done if the land is owned by the Crown.

    The main point is to remove the politicians and allow the court to rule on the claims.

  5. A little late to clarify now isn't it. The point is that McHale has accused Hoskins of not being here, Finley not being here, but his issues for the last two years has been about policing, not land claims. He is running in the wrong election. The Feds have nothing to do with the lawlessness that McHale has been fighting, and by the way some of the charges that McHale has laid have now been dropped due to lack of evidence to proceed in court. So he is blowing in the wind, the faster he leaves the better it is for all of us!

  6. "A little late to clarify now isn't it."

    Is the election over already? Don't each candidate having until Tuesday to get there message out?