Shots were fired and barbs were traded in Tuesday night’s Lloydminster riding byelection debate.
The only debate for the upcoming Nov. 13 byelection was held Tuesday night at the Civic Centre, hosted by the Lloydminster and District Chamber of Commerce.
With four of the five candidates at the meeting, PC Saskatchewan Randall Edge was not in attendance, the candidates had their first chance to meet eye to eye and take questions from the moderator and the general public in attendance.
Each candidate was given five minutes to address the intimate crowd of attendees, with Liberal Leader Darrin Lameroux taking what would be the first of many shots at the Saskatchewan Party’s decision to only increase the Dr. Cooke Extended Care Centre facility by an additional five beds.
“Why wasn’t this facility built to accommodate an additional 45 beds? Had this been designed to have an additional 45 beds, it would have alleviated some beds in the Lloydminster Hospital,” he said.
Colleen Young, the Saskatchewan Party candidate, spoke about how, like other families in Saskatchewan, her family is no longer leaving the province to start businesses.
“We have seen many times, that one province move ahead, and with that the fallout leaves challenges or issues that fall upon Lloydminster,” she said.
“Since the Saskatchewan Party became government ... we have seen unprecedented growth and prosperity. Our young people, including my own children, are no longer leaving this province in droves as they did under the NDP.”
Three-time NDP candidate Wayne Byers said that he is running in this election because he has seen people struggle under this government.
“We all see the economy doing well, however, I’m seeing so many people, and some who have told me, that they are not feeling the benefits. They are saying that their families are stuck with incredibly high cost housing,” he said.
“(That increase) effects young people starting out, families, and seniors alike. While our cost of living has been going up, this government is asking us to pay extra far too often.”
Luke Bonsan, the Saskatchewan Green Party candidate, opened the debate talking about a range of issues, including building a more highly educated population in the province.
“We would institute free post-secondary education, as well as complete prescriptions coverage for eye care and dental, because for a lot of people in Saskatchewan they can’t afford those things,” he said.
“It’s not easy to pay for prescriptions when you have a fixed income.”
With the opening speeches done, moderator Glenda Elkow took over the show and began asking questions to the candidates.
Questions ranged from royalty rates, long-term care in the Border City, market access for oil, aboriginal affairs, roads and the state of Highway 21 in the riding and debt reduction.
But the biggest words came after Young said that the government shouldn’t be in business of affordable housing.
“When government is in the business of owning land and being the gatekeeper for social housing we all know that things don’t work,” she said.
“I think that it belongs to private industry and I think that is where it should stay.” Lameroux let loose on her comments.
“I have been involved in construction, and developers don’t want to do low income housing,” he said. “It’s up to the community and the government to build those housings. The developer wants a chunk of land and want to build 600 houses to create urban sprawl.”
Byers didn’t think that Young was correct in her assessment of keeping government out of affordable housing.
“Making life more affordable in Lloydminster is something I hear all the time at the doorsteps. We need social housing, and affordable housing,” he said.
“Without affordable housing in Lloydminster, we wouldn’t have numerous housing complexes in the Border City.”
The issue of royalties became a hot button issue when Young accused NDP Leader Cam Broten of bringing on uncertainty when calling for regular reviews of resource royalties.
“Revenue sharing is important, and I know that their is a difference between the revenue sharing in Alberta and Saskatchewan,” she said. “I think that the raising royalties is something to be cautioned, because the NDP tied themselves to their former leader Dwain Lingenfelter on trying to get regular reviews done and it was completely squashed by voters.
“Even one of their own MLAs understand that if that was to happen jobs would be lost.”
Byers shot back at the Sask. Party candidate, saying that it was her party that was creating the uncertainty for the people of the province.
“Our resources are for everyone, and when it comes to the reviews, the NDP would set up an independent body that would look into the reviews, and that way everyone would win.”
Bonsan said that the Green Party has more of an international stance on the issue of royalty rates in the province.
“Canada is one of the only countries that gives away its resources for next to nothing,” he said. “That isn’t really smart long term. As far as profit sharing with First Nations and land owners, absolutely the Greens are in favour of it.”
One question that was aimed at Young and Byers had the candidates answering how they would put their constituents first if the issue was against party policy.
Young said that her first priority is to represent the people of Lloydminster.
“Representing their concerns and their challenges, and making sure that their voice is heard in Regina. And also make sure that any information that is necessary to make a good decision on behalf of my constituents is provided to those folks who are able to make the right decision.”
Young said that she thinks that she is accountable to her constituents first.
“If I was to be an MLA, I would recognize the fact that there is priorities in government and particularly around spending,” she said.
“We talk about wanting to build pipelines, and give free post-secondary education, and change royalty rates, I’m not sure who is paying for that because there is only one taxpayer in this province and it comes from all of our pockets.”
Byers said that this government has taken advantage of Lloydminster for too long, and if elected on Nov. 13, he would send a strong message to Regina, that Lloydminster needs must be heard.
“For the last seven years, we have a government member, and supposedly, someone sitting at the cabinet table and the message has been delivered from Regina to Lloydminster,” he said.
“Folks, after Nov. 13, that will be changed and it will be delivered from Lloydminster to Regina.”
Candidates now have one week till election day to get voters out and make sure the support that they have identified votes on election day.
Young clarifies remarks
Sask. Party candidate Colleen Young clarified remarks she made at Tuesday night’s debate.
A question was posed from the floor asking, “How can you address the high cost of living in Lloydminster and the surrounding area?”
Young said during the debate, “When government is in the business of owning land and being the gatekeeper for social housing, we all know that things don’t work. I think that it belongs to private industry, and I think that is where it should stay.”
Moments after the debate, when asked about her comments, Young said the following.
“I didn’t say that they shouldn’t be in affordable housing, but shouldn’t be into development as far as a city goes. As far as development and housing properties in the city.
“The Government of Saskatchewan is into affordable housing as I’ve stated and have contributed to Habitat for Humanity and they do have social housing projects around the province.”
Young stated that her comments were about being a developer, “In a community and I don’t think that (the government) should be doing. Such as land developers, such as Musgrave, such as Lamont developers and such as those types of things.”
Young’s comments made a splash in Regina, as David Forbes, the social services critic for the Saskatchewan NDP, pressed the government to respond to Young’s debate comments.
For more information and reaction to the comments that Young made following, visit www.lloydminstersource.com later this week.