The Halifax riding for the upcoming federal election held its first all-candidates debate Thursday night.

While the debate's topic was women-specific, many of the issues tackled affect all Canadians.

The candidates running in the riding are:

  • Allan Bezanson (Marxist-Leninist Party)
  • Irvine Carvery (Conservative)
  • Andy Fillmore (Liberal)
  • Megan Leslie (New Democratic Party)
  • Thomas Trappenberg (Green)

Conservative candidate Carvery was not at the debate. He told organizers he had another scheduled event.

After brief introductions from the four candidates, it was straight on to six topics.

The topics ranged from violence against women, to missing and murdered indigenous women, to funding for social assistance.

However it was the topics of jobs and the economy that split the parties.

According to the night's moderator Sue Mercer, "40 per cent of women work in precarious jobs with no benefits, no pension and little or no job security."

The Liberals promised more jobs for all Canadians through infrastructure spending.

"When the country needs jobs, you get to work building infrastructure when interest rates are low and when the infrastructure is in tatters — and that's exactly what the Liberal party will do," said Fillmore. 

The NDP touted their promised $15-a-day child care program.

"When they brought this in in Quebec, 70,000 women went back into the workforce. So don't let the Liberals tell you it can't be done," said Leslie.

"It is really time that we are looking for a guaranteed liveable income," said Trappenberg.

Allan Bezanson, a candidate from the Marxist-Leninist Party also participated in the debate. 

"We stand for the total forgiveness of student loans. We stand for free tuition," he said.

While the topics Thursday were billed as women's issues, many of the men said they affect all Canadians.

"Gender inequities, gender discrimination, the issues of around poverty, housing, social justice impact women but they impact society. This really shows that as members of society we have to be concerned, but more importantly active, to make change on these issues," said Bob Huish.

The national version of the women's debate was cancelled after Conservative Leader Stephen Harper announced he would not participate. NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair followed, after saying he would not participate in any debates that Harper wouldn't attend.

The next debate for the Halifax riding candidates is at Dalhousie University in late September.