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Leading candidates take different views on leaders at West Kelowna forum

All candidates forum in West Kelowna with left to right, Dan Albas, Conservative, Allan Duncan, People's Party, Robert Mellalieu, Green, Mary Ann Murphy, Liberal and Joan Phillip, NDP.
October 10, 2019 - 2:22 PM

KELOWNA - While it’s generally accepted that a federal election is much more about the leaders than the local candidates, undecided voters might want to ask themselves whether they want an MP who totally supports his leader or an MP who seems at odds with hers.

Those are the differences that emerged from the two front-runners in a forum for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola candidates yesterday, Oct. 9, in West Kelowna.

“A conservative government under Andrew Scheer would make it our number one priority to put more money in your pocket to help make life a little bit more affordable,” Conservative incumbent Dan Albas said early in the forum in answer to a question on the economy.

It was the first of at least three times that he evoked the name of his party leader during the two hour session – the only candidate to actually name their party leader.

That may be a bit ironic since Albas was the co-chair of Maxime Bernier's campaign to become the Conservative Party leader in 2017. Scheer won that race and Bernier went on to form the People's Party of Canada.

Liberal Mary Ann Murphy, on the other hand, was harsher on her leader, Justin Trudeau, without actually naming him.

First up was a question directed only at her about how she felt about what happened to Jody Wilson-Raybould who was shuffled out of her Attorney General position and was kicked out of the party over the SNC Lavalin affair. She’s running as an independent in this election.

Murphy said she was impressed by Wilson-Raybould when she met her at a Liberal convention in Kelowna and saw her do something “remarkable” – taking 10 minutes of her time to talk to a young girl who had questions for her.

“If a minister can be this wonderful, she must be a good person,” Murphy said. “You will not hear me, as one of the Liberal candidates, criticize her as a woman, as an Indigenous woman, as a minister, because I don’t believe it.

“And despite this one episode – for which the Prime Minister has taken full responsibility – I still believe that this is the best party to lead the country.”

Later she criticized the Liberals' temporary foreign workers program as being far too complicated and “not tenable.”

But she did save some bile to hurl at Scheer for calling the Prime Minister a fraud and an imposter during the federal leaders debate on Monday.

“I don’t know about you, but I thought, if I have to listen to this for another four years, I think I’m going to be sick,” she said.

Her answers were in answer to a question on political correctness, the same question that cast a rather negative light on one of two candidates who are, essentially, running for third place.

That was Robert Mellalieu who talked about, when he first joined the Green Party, how he was frequently corrected for using incorrect language.

“I was told, Rob, it’s not ‘our’ Indigenous Peoples’ they’re just Indigenous Peoples,” Mellalieu said. “Oh, that’s right, we don’t own them.”

During his closing comments, he spoke about how well off we are in Canada. He talked about having clean drinking water – “unless we’re on an Indian reservation.”

His rival for a third place finish was Joan Phillips of the NDP. While she had a good grasp on some party policy positions, she did seem to lose focus at times.

When asked for her opinion on foreign aid, for example, she talked about trade with China and how important it was not to upset a huge potential customer base.

The forum, sponsored by the Greater Westside Board of Trade, also included People’s Party candidate Allan Duncan.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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