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Candidates confront Keddy on Atlantic Accord

by Keith Corcoran

Federal candidates at the Chester Grant debate, from left, Gordon Earle of the NDP, Conservative Gerald Keddy, Green party candidate Michael Oddy and Liberal Dr. Bill Smith.
 CHESTER GRANT - The government's record on the Atlantic Accord and economy were targets of candidates' ire during a debate that featured feisty, pointed statements directed at the Conservatives.

 During a forum at Forest Heights Community School on October 3 Liberal candidate Dr. Bill Smith twice challenged the incumbent to debate party environment plans at any time in the riding but Mr. Keddy declined to respond.

 "If you're not going to stand up and debate me on the South Shore one-on-one then how can we expect you to stand up to Mr. Harper in Ottawa?" Dr. Smith asked, making reference to Conservative leader Stephen Harper.

 Four of five federal candidates responded to prepared questions. Christian Heritage party candidate Joe Larkin was the only candidate not in attendance.

 The Conservatives were the target when a question about the Atlantic Accord was brought up.

 NDP'er Gordon Earle suggested a contract between the province and Ottawa wasn't honoured. "And yet Mr. Harper treated it as if it wasn't worth the paper it was written on and broke the contract and broke his promise."

 But Mr. Keddy countered that his leader and government has delivered results and underlined the fact that he has taken a stand against his own party in the past, using the same-sex marriage issue as an example.

 "I did the right thing then. I did the right thing now on the Atlantic Accord and because of that, we have more money in the coffers of Nova Scotia, not less," he said.

 Green party candidate Michael Oddy went a different angle, suggesting Conservatives have a secretive style. He said as of the time of the forum, the Conservatives had yet to release a platform.

 "Mr. Harper has been very quiet, hiding in shadows under his blue sweater, I suppose," he said, a reference to some Conservative television advertisements featuring the leader in a sweater vest that observers feel is designed to soften his image.

 Dr. Smith took an aggressive tone throughout much of the forum.

 "I'm upset because Mr. Harper broke his word and Mr. Keddy didn't stand up for us," he said.

 On a question about the economy, Mr. Keddy said a Conservative government has done much to diversify the Canadian economy to make a difference.

 "If you believe for an instant the government of Canada had any idea the stock market was going to crash in the U.S. then you're in serious trouble because if we would have known we could have done something about it."

 He also shot back at Dr. Smith's suggestion that Conservatives haven't been seeking enough opportunities abroad in places such as India since taking power.

 "By the way, Bill, Peter [MacKay] was in India last spring on a trade mission," Mr. Keddy said, "so it's not been two and a half years."

 He also suggested 13 years of Liberal governance prior to the Harper government hasn't served Canada that well, especially when it comes to green programs.

 "The previous government talked about cleaning up the environment," he said. "In reality, nothing was done."

 The candidates will meet again for forums in Bridgewater, October 7 and Chester, October 8.

posted on 10/07/08
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