Debate speed leaves some audience members confused

Alex Leduc
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Time restrictions and a strict moderator made for quick words at the second and final Vaudreuil-Soulanges riding debate on Wednesday night.

The French-language debate was a far more fluid affair than the previous week's English one, as the majority of the candidates are francophones. Some, like Liberal candidate Brigitte Legault, had struggled to get their message across in English last week.

What was gained in choice of language seemed lost in the strictness of the time limits, though, as several candidates were forced to speak very quickly to get their message across. "I like [Meili] Faille, except she needed more time to express herself," said Vaudreuil-Soulanges resident Francine Bruillère of the Bloc Québecois candidate. The moderator repeatedly cut off some candidates mid-sentence, like Green Party Candidate Jean-Yves Massenet.

The party hopefuls debated over several issues, but a concern that was raised by a questioner and reflected in several of the candidates' earlier statements was that of having a locally bred member of parliament. In the previous election, the Liberals "flew in" former astronaut and out-of-towner Marc Garneau to be their Vaudreuil-Soulanges candidate. He wasn't local enough, lost, and no one has forgotten. "I'm a daughter of the area, I grew up here, my family is very involved in the community, and I share the ambitions and the preoccupations of the people here," said Legault. "I've lived here all my life, I was born here…I discovered theatre by being a part of plays that were performed on the stage I'm standing on," added NDP candidate Maxime Héroux-Legault, not to be outdone.

Conservative candidate Michael Fortier faces a challenge similar to Garneau, as Fortier has only lived in the area for two years. "I think I would disagree even if had grown up here and had the right postal code. I think we can learn the challenges of the region," said Fortier in response to the question. "I think the people are more interested in what someone does during the day than where they sleep at night." "The advantage of having a local candidate is that the person lives the day-to-day realities of the citizens," responded Faille, the riding's incumbent.

Fortier's plea did not work on Bruillère. "Me, I live in Vaudreuil-Soulanges and not Montreal," she said.

Defending the government's record and speaking in a much more relaxed tone than the others, Fortier seemed like more of an incumbent than a challenger. The rest of the candidates spent most of their words describing their parties' platforms and their ideas for the region in great detail. "I think that you're mocking my colleague [Environment Minister] John Baird, he's the one who was in Montreal…announcing that the federal government would forbid the use of phosphates…which were the cause of the algae problems in the lake," said Fortier during a discussion on water and air quality. "With the new highway 30, we are going to attract the trucking industry which will take up enormous amounts of space, and therefore some of our agriculture space will disappear," said Massenet, touching on concerns about agricultural production as well as the new superhighway that will run through the riding.

The candidates also spoke about transportation, poverty, job creation, taxes, crime, and the environment more generally.

Organizations: Bloc Québecois, Green Party

Geographic location: Montreal

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