Cable 14’s provincial all-candidates’ debates provided a medley of scripted talking points, punctuated by some genuine moments of spontaneity. Viewers got a better idea of candidate’s views on transit. The format of the debates consisted of opening and closing statements by candidates, with the bulk of the debate devoted to questions provided by local media and interest groups. The Bay Observer provided a question asking candidate’s views on the proposed Niagara to GTA corridor, formerly known as the Mid Peninsula corridor, and a number of candidates didn’t seem to know what it was.
The Hamilton Mountain debate showcased a clear distinction on transit issues between NDP incumbent Monique Taylor and Liberal candidate Javid Mirza. Taylor pledged her party would provide full funding for LRT. Mirza countered with a proposal for Bus Rapid Transit connecting the airport and the proposed James Street Go station as well as BRT connecting the south mountain with Stoney Creek.
He argued that LRT would only help the lower city at a time when the Mountain is underserved with public transit. Albert Marshall, the PC candidate, asked about climate change, turned the question around in an attack on the Liberal Green energy program saying billions have been squandered on solar and wind projects with a resulting increase in hydro rates.
In the Hamilton East Stoney Creek debate, once again NDP incumbent Paul Miller declared his full support for LRT, while Liberal challenger Ivan Luksic promoted a BRT system that would connect the mountain with GO stations on James Street and in Stoney Creek. In answer to a question provided by the Bay Observer about poor voter turnout, NDP’er Paul Miller suggested Ontario might want to look at the Australian system where voters are fined $100 if they fail to vote, with exceptions for persons who are disabled or otherwise unable to get to the polls. Asked by Conservative candidate David Brown how the NDP would balanced the budget, Miller’s answer focused on reducing waste. Green candidate Gregory Zink and Libertarian, Mark Burnison also participated.
In the Ancaster-Dun-das-Flamborough-West-dale debate PC candidate Donny Skelly ruled out support for LRT saying the constituents she talked to won’t use LRT and don’t want to pay for it. NDP candidate Alex John-stone echoed her leader’s position that the NDP will profile full funding for the system. Incumbent Ted McMeekin expressed support for transit investment in Hamilton but did not specify the mode he would favour. Skelly went after Ted McMeekin over the MaRS real estate bailout asking whether as a member of treasury board he was involved in the decision to give the organization $300 Million. In a noisy free-for-all session Skelly repeatedly asked McMeekin if he was at the cabinet meeting where the MaRS deal was discussed.
In the Hamilton Centre debate, again LRT fell along party lines. Conservative Candidate John Vale said flatly he did not support LRT because it is unaffordable at a time of deficits. NDP leader An-drea Horwath went out of her way to declare support for the transit system. Liberal Donna Tiqui Shebib challenged Horwath who earlier had taken credit for being the first leader to propose an Ontario pension plan, on the fact that there was no pension plan in her party’s platform. Vail asked Horwath why she had ‘abandoned ideology.’ Horwath replied that she is only interested in solutions that work in the real world, prompting Vail to suggest that she sounded like a Tory. Green candidate Peter Ormond said voters are tired of partys’ sniping at each other—calling his campaign an “un-campaign.” Communist candidate Bob Mann criticized Andrea Horwath for abandoning traditional progressive policies.