Students challenge candidates at Carleton University debate for Ottawa-Centre riding

Protests interrupted the federal debate for the Ottawa-Centre riding which was held on Carleton University’s campus on Wednesday, Oct. 6.

The debate was moderated by three members of the Carleton University’s Students’ Association and focused on student-related issues such as affordable housing, job opportunities and climate change.

Incumbent Catherine McKenna (Liberal), Emilie Taman (NDP), Angela Keller-Herzog (Green), Merylee Sevilla (PPC) and Carol Clemenhagen (Conservatives) all had a chance to answer each question in turn.

McKenna focused much of the night on climate change and warned that a Conservative government would undo much of the progress they had achieved during her time as environment minister.

“We cannot lose this. We cannot go back in time,” she said.

Clemenhagen challenged the Liberals on their progress on climate change and said the Conservative party would do better. She also accused the Liberals of increasing the national debt over four successive years to which Mckenna replied, “The biggest debt is on climate change..and guess what, it’s also our biggest economic opportunity.”

Taman and Keller-Herzog shared McKenna’s view that more focus was needed on climate issues.

“We need to move forward in an urgent way,” said Keller-Herzog.

Taman, who attended the Sept. 27 Global Climate Strike in Ottawa with her kids, said that more focus should be made on real solutions and suggested a plan to accelerate electric transit options.

PPC candidate, Sevilla, was cut off by the crowd with boos when she told them that there was “no crisis.”

Though moderators managed to keep the debate under control for the most part, there were some protests by members of the audience.

The debate began with an interruption when a representative of the Communist Party of Canada demanded to know why there was no representation of his party at an all-candidates debate.

The moderator acknowledged his complaint but did not let him speak further and continued on with the debate.

Then, during closing arguments, a group of students rose with a giant black banner and held it up before the crowd of at least 200 assembled in the University Centre that read, “PPC has Nazis on payroll.”

The students followed up with chants of “Shame on Carleton.”

Nyakuma Buoy joined the chants against Sevilla and said she was part of a group called Fight Back, whose purpose is to fight racism.

She wasn’t impressed with the debate and said that the candidates were “the same person going through different stages of their lives.”

The Students’ Association VP of Student Life Jamie Laxton said that her co-worker and VP of Student Issues, Sissi De Flaviis, had put the event together. It had taken her four months of work, but Laxton and the rest the Students’ Association helped pull it off.

think there are bumps in the road with everything we put on,” said Laxton.
“But I think it went pretty well. I’m excited.”