It wasn't a debate at all. It was a panel discussion on Agriculture. The first hour featured four panel members asking 7 local candidates one question each on a particular issue related to agriculture and the Federal government. The second hour featured questions for the candidates from the audience. My father-in-law and I did not stay for that.
The night began with each candidate giving a one minute introduction to their party's stance on the issue. The opening talks went something like this:
John Maloney, Liberal, Welland: "Farming is important. Vote Liberal. We'll give you more of what you already have."
Dean Allison, Conservative, Niagara West Glanbrook: "Farming is important. Ad by the way John, 1 in 5 Conservative MP's are from family farms and like to farm on their days off. This means we know more than you."
Dave Bylsma, CHP, Niagara West Glanbrook: "My wife is having our sixth baby. Please vote for me."
Heather Carter, Liberal, Niagara West Glanbrook: "Conservatives suck. They defeated our government. Read our report for more information on our plan to save your farm. It will let you know that everything is going just fine and there really is no problem."
David Heatley, NDP, Niagara West Glanbrook: "Jack Layton rocks my world. I wish I had his charisma."
Brian Simpson, Green Party, Welland: "The Green Party doesn't actually have an agriculture plan."
Mel Grunstein, Conservative, Welland: "Farming is important. Our current system doesn't work. We can fix it. Vote for us."
As an aside, the MC for the evening kept screwing up. The speakers were on a rotation, and this was clearly too much work for him. Also, he did not pronounce Dave Bylsma's name right even once. He kept saying Blysma. I mean, how hard is it to read? Obviously harder than I thought.
All in all, it was disappointing. I went hoping to see candidates slug it out over meaty issue. Instead, I learned about farming. Don't get me wrong; farming is important, farms feed cities and blah blah blah. It's just not what I was looking for.