Liberal candidates present platforms on pipelines, foreign investment
Published Saturday, February 2, 2013 1:58PM EST
Last Updated Saturday, February 2, 2013 8:30PM EST
The nine federal Liberal leadership candidates presented their views on a range of issues including foreign investment, resource development and crime during the second “debate” in Winnipeg on Saturday afternoon.
The interview-style debate followed a question-and-answer format, where each candidate individually answered questions posed to them by moderator and former Liberal candidate Harvey Locke.
The questions covered a range of issues including foreign investment, crime, transportation and agricultural and resource development.
Vying for the Liberal party’s top spot are MPs Justin Trudeau, Joyce Murray and Marc Garneau. Also in the race are former MPs Martha Hall Findlay and Martin Cauchon, while lawyers David Bertschi, Deborah Coyne and George Takach and retired Lt.-Col. Karen McCrimmon round out the candidates.
McCrimmon was the first candidate to sit down with Locke. She talked about her military service, the need for federal government to address climate change and to develop a plan for the Arctic.
McCrimmon was interrupted by protestors who entered the room, drumming and chanting “Idle No More.”
Montreal-area MP Marc Garneau, who was next to speak, said the country needs foreign investment, but under his leadership, the rules surrounding foreign investment would be clarified.
Findlay said she supports foreign investment, but while the country should be open for business, it is “not for sale.”
The former Toronto MP stressed that when dealing with foreign investors, Canadians should approach each proposal objectively.
Former Liberal Justice Minister Cauchon stressed that when countries and companies seek to develop resources in Canada, every effort should be made to develop jobs and industry in the country.
Perceived frontrunner Justin Trudeau said clear parameters must be developed to guide foreign investment in Canada.
“We can develop our resources on our own terms and we have to do that with clarity and with strength,” he said.
Bertschi said the government has an important role to play in helping to create job opportunities for young people in Canada. He added that foreign investment in Canada must be guided by “proper, informed decision” and that foreign investment and ownership should be debated in parliament.
During her discussion with Locke, Coyne talked about her proposal for the creation of an independent national academy of sciences to ensure autonomy of the Canadian research community.
She also talked about the importance for extracting natural resources in Canada in the “most sustainable way.”
Perceived frontrunner Justin Trudeau openly stated that he does not like the Northern Gateway pipeline due to its potential effects on the environment.
However, he stressed that he supports resource development. “Come to me with better proposals,” Trudeau urged.
Cauchon said that the Northern Gateway pipeline was likely to proceed, but it should be built only after consulting with First Nations and considering the environment.
Murray, an MP from British Columbia said she “doesn’t like the two pipelines going to the coast” and said the government should consult with First Nations when pursuing resource development. She also said exportation of resources to northern communities should also be considered.
Garneau said exporting energy resources to Asian markets presents an important economic opportunity to Canadians and should be pursued “responsibly.”
Findlay talked about the need for a national transportation strategy, especially for parts of British Columbia that are currently underserviced.
On the issue of crime prevention, Cauchon stated that he was against mandatory minimum sentencing.
Trudeau maintained the popular Liberal view that efforts should be aimed at crime prevention, not punishment.
“It’s not about being tough on crime, it’s about creating less crime,” Trudeau said.
Findlay too slammed the Conservative approach to fighting crime, stating that more resources should be focused on prevention.
“The most important right for a victim is to never become a victim in the first place,” she said.
Findlay noted that in the past the party has supported Conservative crime bills, fearing that failure to do so would make the Liberals appear to be “soft on crime.”
She said that moving forward the party must take a strong stand against practices such as mandatory minimums.
Garneau and Murray both said the Conservative crime policy is out of date and both said that as leader, they would place more focus on crime prevention.
Murray said that the war on drugs has been “a complete failure” and reiterated her support for the legalization, taxation and control of cannabis.
Takach, who was the last candidate to speak, made it clear during his discussion that he supports the decriminalization of cannabis.
“It’s all about stopping the violence,” he said.
Leadership race needs ‘big ideas’
Earlier on Saturday, Political Science professor Peter Graefe told CTV News Channel that while the race initially enjoyed a boost in profile -- especially with the announcement that Justin Trudeau was entering the race -- it has since flown “under the radar.”
Graefe said the public has not been fully engaged in the race so far, but interest may pick up once a leader for the party is chosen.
“Once they have a leader they can begin to stake out some positions,” he said. “The Liberals have to find some big ideas that are a bit different.”