Sparks fly over federal land at Cornwall all-candidates debate

Members of the public get ready for the SDSG all candidates debate on Oct. 7, 2015 at the Cornwall Civic Complex. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – Waterfront tanks on Cornwall’s waterfront were still dogging Conservative incumbent Guy Lauzon during a debate Wednesday night.

Around 160 people were at the Cornwall Civic Complex Wednesday night for the all-candidates forum, organized by the local chamber of commerce.

The waterfront tanks also came up during a question from moderator Dan Allaire about divestiture of federal lands. NDP Patrick Burger said it’s another example of the secrecy of the federal government.

Conservative incumbent Guy Lauzon lit into Liberal candidate Bernadette Clement in her role as a municipal councillor, accusing her and her counterparts of inaction when the city was aware of the waterfront chemical tank plan in June 2013.

Clement dismissed the accusation. “This is a federal government issue, not a council issue,” she said.

Lauzon then threw in that Transport Canada would transfer the land to the city for free tomorrow.

Later in the question from the audience, Lauzon said the lessees are trying to beautify the area. “This could be a rather nice site,” Lauzon said but admitted the company is having trouble growing grass, possibly because of the soil makeup.

On infrastructure spending, Clement said it’s where the party stands apart from the other parties. “All of that (infrastructure) funding will happen right away which will help Highway 138, that economic lifeline,” she said.

Pat Burger challenge the “strange” statement from Clement, and said the NDP would spend on infrastructure but would not go into deficit and would allow municipalities to choose how to spend the money.

“This is same kind of thinking (like on climate change) that would put us into massive deficits,” Burger retorted.

“You talk about a 10 billion dollar deficit, it’s going to be a 100 billion dollar deficit,” Lauzon directed at Clement.

Conservative Lauzon said the Trans-Pacific Partnership will open a multi-trillion dollar market for diary farmers and others in Canada.

“I haven’t met a lot of ecstatic dairy farmers in a while,” said Clement to laughs from the audience. NDP Burger questioned whether farmers would get any money from the $4.5 billion compensation package.

One member of the public asked about Clement’s stance on physician assisted suicide. “We need to consult and have discussions,” Clement said and suggested a committee would be needed to be put together.

Voters will be going to the polls Friday in advance polls (four days Oct. 9-12) in SDSG and then during Election Day Oct. 19.

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