‘Politely delivered blood and guts’ at Abbotsford all-candidates meeting

‘Politely delivered blood and guts’ at Abbotsford all-candidates meeting

Candidates spar over Fraser Valley rail, deficits and SNC-Lavalin scandal

Tuesday’s all-candidates meeting for the Abbotsford riding may have seen some “politely delivered blood and guts,” as moderator Douglas MacAdams colourfully described at the forum’s end, but the conclusion saw the Liberal and Conservative candidates agree on the question voters should ask themselves heading into the polling station in two weeks.

Conservative Ed Fast had spent the better part of two hours at Matsqui Centennial Auditorium deriding the Liberals’ four years in power. Liberal Seamus Heffernan, meanwhile, had fiercely defended Justin Trudeau’s record as Prime Minister while questioning the Conservatives’ own plans.

Disagreements over climate change policy, the Liberals’ foreign affairs record, and the importance of deficits had resulted in multiple back-and-forth exchanges between the two candidates. But when it came time to make their final statements, both told voters to consider the same question: Whether the last four years had seen improvements under the leadership of the Liberal government.

This is a summary of just a handful of issues discussed Tuesday, for a complete record of the meeting, as it happens, read our Live Story.

For more election coverage, including an explanation of the riding boundaries, video interviews with candidates and responses to a questionnaire sent to each, click here.

Fast had gone first, asking the loudly pro-Conservative crowd how the last four years had been and who would be best to lead the country.

Heffernan closed by agreeing with Fast’s premise:

“I too would like you to reflect on the past four years,” he said, pointing to promises kept, Canada’s economy and reductions in child poverty.

The other four candidates – the Christian Heritage Party’s Aeriol Alderking, Locke Duncan of the People’s Party of Canada, Madeleine Sauve of the NDP, and Stephen Fowler of the Green Party – did their best to break up the Conservative-Liberal dichotomy throughout the evening.

All six candidates spent much of their time reciting promises contained within the platforms of their respective parties. And all six endorsed the widening of Highway 1, saying their parties would work to push the project forward. Heffernan said the province remains the one obstacle to getting the highway widened.

Throughout the evening, both Duncan and Alderking touted their respective party’s plans to overhaul Canada’s tax system. The Christian Heritage Party has a “fair tax” proposal that would see income tax ditched for a wide-ranging sales tax, while the PPC wants to ditch the capital gains tax and reduce the number of tax brackets.

But one of the most notable disagreements over a local issue erupted when Green Party candidate Stephen Fowler suggested that the government should look at funding the Rail for the Valley project that would run along the interurban line and connect Chilliwack, Langley, Surrey and Abbotsford by rail.

Sauve, though, said she would prefer to see electrified rail run along the highway, and cited Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun’s concerns about the Rail for the Valley project being unfeasible because of concerns regarding the use of a seven-kilometre stretch of track that runs through Langley. Each candidate in the meeting was granted several rebuttal cards to respond to others’ statements, and Fowler and Sauve saw fit to use their cards to debate the issue, with Fowler emphasizing a right-of-way title that proponents say gives them the ability to run trains on the line. That didn’t persuade Sauve, however, who stressed Translink’s lack of enthusiasm for the idea and the speed – or lackthereof – of the suggested trains.

Locke Duncan of the People’s Party, meanwhile, emphasized the need to improve on-ramps, while Alderking said Canada should be providing interest free loans for infrastructure projects.

The MCA crowd was most vocal when Heffernan and Fast spoke on the SNC-Lavalin affair that prompted the departure of Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott from the Liberal caucus.

In a statement that was briefly interrupted by several hecklers, Heffernan conceded the ethics commissioner declared Trudeau he should not have intervened, but suggested that Parliamentary rules excused some of his conduct and said the Prime Minister was trying to save jobs and believed he was acting in the interests of the nation.

Fast responded, telling the audience: “The bottom line is this: We have a Prime Minister who interfered with the prosecutorial process, which is supposed to be independent in Canada. And he said: ‘I broke the law because there were 9,000 jobs at stake. So if 9,000 jobs allow him to break the law, what other conditions would allow him to break the law?”

The candidates also frequently brought up the continued federal deficits, with Fast saying the Liberals don’t care about spending and that Trudeau broke a promise to balance the budget by this year.

Heffernan, though, said the Conservatives plan to give the rich a massive tax break and then, when the deficit persists, would severely cut social services.

The NDP and Green candidates entered the fray with some of their most-forceful statements of the night. Sauve told the crowd that a “modest deficit” can be fine, but the Conservatives’ fury about the state budget was overwrought, given the party’s own record while it was in power.

And Fowler, seated between Fast and Heffernan, wryly noted that while some may question his party’s spending plans, the deficit was created by Liberals and Conservatives. He added that tax breaks don’t stimulate the economy and that spending decisions are often driven by need.

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ron Restrick lives with mild cognitive impairment, but has worked to stay active and engaged in his community.
Abbotsford residents invited to Alzheimer Society webinar

Session on Wednesday, Jan. 27 looks at dementia and long-term care

Abbotsford football star Chase Claypool has signed an endorsement deal with Nike’s Jordan brand. (Air Jordan website)
Abbotsford’s Chase Claypool signs with Nike’s Jordan brand

Abbotsford Senior Secondary School grad joins exclusive group of top athletes wearing Jumpman

Two people were in a vehicle that rolled over on Highway No. 1 near Lickman Road. They are now out of the vehicle. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vehicle rolls over on Highway 1 near Lickman Road in Chilliwack

Two people in SUV at time of collision in westbound lanes

The Oxford Senior Care private care home in Abbotsford is part of a COVID-19 contact-tracing pilot project through the company Vantage. (Facebook photo)
Abbotsford care home participates in COVID-19 contact-tracing pilot project

The Oxford Senior Care uses ‘wearables’ to track movements of staff and residents

The Abbotsford board of education said on Tuesday they are satisfied with how students and staff dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic from September to December.
Abbotsford board of education pleased with return to class during COVID-19

District officials thank staff and students for low number of infections and issues during pandemic

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

(Photo by Kevin Hill)
40 cases linked to Surrey Memorial Hospital COVID-19 outbreak

Fraser Health says two death are associated with the outbreak

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Most Read