On Wednesday, October 7th, Waterloo candidates gathered in Laurier’s concourse to debate and discuss their platforms for the upcoming federal election.
Representatives from all four parties were present: Conservative’s Peter Braid, New Democratic Party’s Diane Freeman, Liberal’s Bardish Chagger, and Green Party’s Richard Walsh.
The debate was primarily focused on student issues, with the concern of student debt playing a key role in each of the candidates’ discussion points.
Each party came forward with a plan of action to combat student debt. The individual candidates’ main points were as follows:
1. Chagger stated that the Liberal Party would not only increase access to student loans, but also absorb interest in the repayment time until students are earning a minimum salary of $25,000 a year.
2. In Braid’s plan, the Conservative Party would use Canada’s current Student Loans and Grants program to eliminate in-study income from loans, for students who are balancing a job while attending post-secondary education.
3. Walsh projected that by 2020, the Green Party would be able to eliminate tuition fees altogether. The party would also forgive any student debt over $10,000, contribute annually to local municipalities to hire young people, and have a guaranteed annual income.
4. Freeman proposed that the New Democratic Party would eliminate all interest on student loans over the next 7 years, help establish 40,000 new permanent internship and co-op opportunities for students, and build affordable housing for new graduates.
Another hot-button topic that arose during the debate was the lack of Aboriginal students entering the post-secondary sector.
All four candidates agreed that the government must work alongside Aboriginal communities to invest further in their education.
Walsh, Freeman, and Chagger noted that the current Conservative government’s cuts to Aboriginal communities must be restored in order for Aboriginal students to thrive. Braid stated that the Conservative government is prepared to assist each Indigenous community on a nation-by-nation basis.
To close off the debate, candidates gave a final statement to summarize their arguments.
1. In Braid’s closing statement, he emphasized that the Conservative Party is “the only choice to keep our economy strong, and taxes low”.
2. Walsh argued that the Green Party has “the vision to get our economy on track for an environmentally sustainable future”.
3. Freeman stated that her background in engineering has prepared her to invest in Waterloo with “stable funding for roads, bridges, affordable housing, and transit”.
4. Chagger closed by stressing the Liberal government’s values “compassion, inclusion, and respect for the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms”.
Each candidate brought on strong tactics to entice students and delivered key messages as to how they would deliver change within the community.
As the debate came to a close, students took the time to get to know the candidates before they will be placing their ballots in the upcoming voting days.