Give your vote care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion be­fore Oct. 21

Base your choice on the party, the leader and the lo­cal can­di­date

The Peterborough Examiner - - OPINION - BRIAN DES­BI­ENS Brian Des­bi­ens is past pres­i­dent of Flem­ing Col­lege. His col­umn ap­pears monthly.

So how is it go­ing for you in sort­ing out who to vote for in the Oc­to­ber fed­eral election?

Last month I posed a se­ries of ques­tions that you may want to ask the var­i­ous can­di­dates, which might help you de­cide for whom to vote. Sev­eral read­ers told me that it was help­ful but I chick­ened out by not stat­ing my po­si­tion. Af­ter all, that is why you read these opin­ion col­umns.

I have strug­gled with the ques­tion be­cause I have par­tic­u­lar bi­ases, as do we all, and I cer­tainly do not want to im­pose them on oth­ers. Af­ter re­tir­ing, I have been ac­tively sup­port­ing the Lib­eral Party. That said, I be­lieve I am a fis­cal con­ser­va­tive, be­liev­ing in re­spon­si­ble fi­nan­cial man­age­ment. But I be­lieve in so­cial democ­racy and thus am more of a pro­gres­sive or cen­trist thinker.

Ini­tially, I was im­pressed with El­iz­a­beth May be­cause I be­lieve that cli­mate change is the most ex­is­ten­tial chal­lenge of our time. She seemed more in­formed and ev­i­dence-based, but when I learned that many of her facts were ques­tion­able I was dis­ap­pointed.

NDP Leader Jag­meet Singh seems like a nice man but speaks in clichés and does not seem to me to be in­formed to the de­gree you would want in a prime min­is­ter. But I ad­mire his courage to run and the state­ment that he is mak­ing to the coun­try and world that a per­son of such diver­sity can rise to lead­er­ship of one of Canada’s ma­jor par­ties. I also like the NDP com­mit­ment to child care and bet­ter em­ploy­ment in­sur­ance ben­e­fits to new fam­i­lies.

An­drew Scheer so far seems to be “Stephen Harper light.” I do like his con­cept of a cor­ri­dor across Canada for util­i­ties but, other than that, he seems just too stiff and not to pos­sess the qual­i­ties of strong lead­er­ship we need to unite the coun­try. Per­haps my great­est con­cern is that ev­ery­thing he has pre­sented seems to be through an eco­nomic lens. Cli­mate change, im­mi­gra­tion, poverty re­duc­tion, mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism are much more com­plex is­sues af­fect­ing Cana­di­ans. His re­sponses come from be­ing a strong fam­ily ad­vo­cate, but the plat­form as pre­sented to date lacks specifics on how to truly ad­dress the is­sues.

I did not like that Justin Trudeau passed on the first de­bate. Af­ter all, cam­paigns are about speak­ing out to in­form us and to con­trast your be­liefs and record with the other lead­ers’. I have also been dis­ap­pointed in the rev­e­la­tions of his in­ap­pro­pri­ate so­cial be­hav­iour. I do like sev­eral of his plat­form el­e­ments such as the car­bon tax be­cause it al­lows for a dis­in­cen­tive for fos­sil fu­els and a rein­vest­ment in green tech­nol­ogy and en­ergy but through the choices of the cit­i­zen.

So where to go?

We have to look at pol­icy and prac­tices. I can­not re­al­is­ti­cally see the Green or NDP par­ties lead­ing or winning. The PQ is now on the rise in Que­bec and, in a mi­nor­ity gov­ern­ment, could hold the bal­ance of power. This is dis­cour­ag­ing and wor­ri­some.

So it comes down to the two ma­jor par­ties. As I stated ear­lier I am a cen­trist, and this means a per­son of com­pro­mise. The only party with this lean­ing is the Lib­eral Party, in my view.

While the Lib­er­als un­der Trudeau have at times strug­gled, I be­lieve they have tried in the most bal­anced way to ad­dress the is­sues. I also be­lieve they have dealt with for­eign af­fairs quite ef­fec­tively, given the Trump chal­lenge. I give Chris­tine Free­land much credit.

I would like to see greater ef­forts by the next fed­eral gov­ern­ment to ad­dress in­come in­equal­ity, In­dige­nous rec­on­cil­i­a­tion with real re­sults in sus­tain­able com­mu­ni­ties, poverty by ad­dress­ing the need for low-in­come hous­ing, and rein in the bud­get deficits.

But in the end one votes for their lo­cal can­di­dates. I ad­mire all can­di­dates for step­ping for­ward and thank them for want­ing to serve our com­mu­ni­ties.

I was dis­ap­pointed in Con­ser­va­tive Michael Skin­ner’s ini­tial state­ment that he wanted to have a clean cam­paign be­fore go­ing on to tar­get the in­cum­bent about ab­sen­teeism. This showed a lack of judg­ment and con­gru­ency. It also showed a lack of un­der­stand­ing with what a fed­eral rep­re­sen­ta­tive does.

The Lib­eral can­di­date was a cabi­net min­is­ter, and this is sig­nif­i­cant. It is my ex­pe­ri­ence that a min­is­ter has much greater lever­age in get­ting the at­ten­tion of de­ci­sion-mak­ers. My lean­ing would be to­ward giv­ing Maryam Mon­sef an­other term. She was new and young in the role. But she has out­stand­ing peo­ple skills and has demon­strated she wishes to work col­lab­o­ra­tively with all lev­els of gov­ern­ment to de­velop plans and ad­vo­cacy for our com­mu­nity. In my ex­pe­ri­ence, she has been present and now has ex­pe­ri­ence as a min­is­ter and the po­ten­tial to do much more.

Good luck in your con­sid­er­a­tion of the can­di­dates, but please do vote. It mat­ters.

CLIF­FORD SKARSTEDT EX­AM­INER

Peter­bor­ough-Kawartha fed­eral can­di­dates dis­cuss arts, cul­ture and her­itage pol­icy on Wed­nes­day at Show­place.

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