Calgary-Buffalo candidates trade barbs at packed election forum
Voters interested to hear candidates' view on local issues such as LRT, flood protection
It's a race in a marquee Calgary riding with some high-profile names.
About 180 people were at an all-candidates meeting in Calgary-Buffalo Tuesday night, organized by the Inglewood Community Association.
Both NDP candidate Joe Ceci and UCP candidate Tom Olsen traded barbs, which mirrored their parties' provincial campaigns.
But people also wanted to hear about local issues like the Green Line LRT, flood mitigation and whether a provincial law that restricts development under flight paths to Calgary's airport needs updating.
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"These are all projects that Conservatives have waffled on or delayed. Alberta deserves better than that," said Ceci.
He won his first provincial election in Calgary-Fort in 2015 and served as the finance minister in the Notley government.
But in this election, he's running in Buffalo, which includes a portion of his old riding.
Ceci said he wasn't surprised at the turnout at the meeting.
"Inglewood, Ramsay, East Village is very interested in politics, particularly because of the big issues going on in this area. Namely, flood protection needing to happen. Namely redevelopment in the community. Social issues."
The UCP's Olsen, who spent 20 years in journalism, later worked for the office of former PC premier Ed Stelmach. He's also a local musician.
He said that voters in this traditionally progressive inner-city riding are looking for options.
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"They feel like Alberta has skidded over the past four years and they want someone to bring it back. They want the UCP to bring it back," said Olsen.
While the UCP has been focussing on the economy, the provincial debt and pipelines in the campaign, social issues have been controversial.
In handling a question about human rights and gay-straight alliances, Olsen described himself as an ally to the LGBTQ community.
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"I didn't march in the Pride parade because I was told as a UCP candidate, I couldn't. But I did go to the Pride parade and I waved the flag. I was very proud of that," said Olsen.
The Alberta Party's candidate, Omar Masood, managed to get in a few shots of his own during the question and answer session.
He said Ceci and the NDP's record of raising taxes has not proven to be the path to a balanced budget.
"Joe, I respect you but when you say you're going to balance the budget, I just don't believe you," said Masood.
"Clearly by just increasing the tax rate, we're not getting in more revenue. So that's not working out."
He said the race in Buffalo is not going to be just a choice between human rights and the economy, as voters are looking for answers on other issues as well.
Other candidates at the forum included Jennifer Khan with the Alberta Liberals and Cory Hetherington of the Alberta Independence Party.
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Green Party candidate Heather Morigeau did not attend the event.
With files from Justin Pennell