Heated debate dominates voter discussions

Erin hears more about voter's feelings on PNP and the negative tone of the leaders debate.

So, I started the day off back in Stratford today. The kind people I met yesterday told me today was the biggest day of the week for the coffee shop crowd and asked me to come back to talk to the others. How could I say no? It was so nice to be wanted.

And they delivered.

Shortly after 8:30, the tables filled up with people from several districts in Queens County. It was last night’s debate that dominated the conversation, not that many people had watched it. Most just heard the heated highlights between Olive Crane and Robert Ghiz on PNP replayed on the radio this morning.

And most people weren’t impressed.

"It’s like hockey," says one woman. "I don’t pay to watch fights, I pay to watch hockey. Same with the debates."

Then Alan McIsaac, the Liberal incumbent for District 5 joins us for a coffee before heading out for more door-knocking. He says he thought the debate went well for the Liberals, but he admits it was so loud in the audience where he was standing that it was hard to hear anything at all.

He chats about his family for a bit and mentions that the PNP issue seems to have blown over with the people he’s meeting at the door. Then he wishes us a good day.

"Everyone looks up to Alan," jokes Dennis Wells, as we watch the very tall politician walk out the door.

Then Alfred Stewart walks in and people tell me I just have to talk to him. He lives in District 6, Stratford-Kinlock and for him, the PNP issue hasn’t blown over at all.

"In regards to PNP, it would have been solved a few years ago if they just would have listed the people who received it," he says passionately.

"And why not? Why do we not know? If someone gets an ACOA grant we know who gets it, so why not PNP? I think something’s been hid. We should know."

From Stratford, I head over to District 15, West Royalty-Springvale, which several people tell me could be one of the more interesting races in Queens County. That’s because Liberal Bush Dumville has been named as one of the MLAs who got PNP units and his PC opponent Gary Bowness is well known in the district.

Right from the start, I can tell it’s going to be a hard one to gauge. Several people tell me they’re going to vote for Bowness, but don’t come out and say if the PNP issue affected their decision at all.

And I also meet several people who are frustrated by everything they’ve seen in the election so far and don’t know who to support — people like Stan and Marjorie Arsenault who live in the Meadowvale trailer park.

"When you see nastiness [like in the debate], you just want to vote any other way", says Marjorie.

"Nobody likes this bickering."

"As far as I can tell," says Stan. "One candidate is a telephone pole and the other is a shrub in terms of either one being able to do anything for you. Both useless."

The Arsenaults say they’re so cynical about the state of provincial politics, they’re not even sure if they’re going to vote period. And they don’t think they’re alone in their feelings.

In terms of Bush Dumville being affected by the PNP issue, Stan says, "He’s just trying to fly under the radar the best he can. Haven’t even seen him this time around."

Out at the Winsloe Irving I meet a passionate supporter of Dumville’s who says the PNP issue is misunderstood and happened years ago anyway. He says without the PNP money, the province would be in trouble.

"Bottom line, without the PNP money, P.E.I. would have been a ghost town, bankrupt," he says.

He says it might not be an easy win for Dumville, but he will win.

"Wow," I think to myself. "That’s confidence."

Then I ask him his name. Roger Ford, he says, Dumville’s campaign manager. Right. Just another reminder of how small this Island is.

Monday: More from Queens County.