Waterloo riding federal candidates on what integrity in government means to them
Candidates also discuss post-pandemic economy, climate change
CBC invited candidates from the parties represented in the House of Commons for a panel discussion. Candidates for the Waterloo riding were asked about climate change, the post-COVID-19 economy and how they'd have their voices heard if elected.
Conservative candidate Meghan Shannon declined the invitation to take part.
Growing up, Karla Villagomez Fajardo says she feels like she was painted a very bleak picture of what politics and politicians should be.
"When I hear people talk about politics, they say, 'politics as usual' — but for me, I just can't really accept that," the Green candidate for Waterloo said during a panel discussion with CBC Kitchener-Waterloo.
"I can't really accept that because time and time again, I've seen that people have trusted elected officials with their voice and then unfortunately been let down."
Villagomez Fajardo was responding to a question in the panel about what the phrase "integrity in government" means to the candidates.
"I think, integrity is doing the right thing even if people aren't watching, even if it's not convenient, even if it's not going to score you political points," she said. "If you say you're going to do it, you ought to do it."
Villagomez Fajardo also raised the WE scandal. In June 2020, the federal government announced that WE Charity would administer the Canada student service grant, but that announcement came under fire from opposition parties over the Trudeau family's close relationship with the organization.
Waterloo Liberal candidate Bardish Chagger was named as being part of the WE scandal during her time as the federal minister of diversity, inclusion and youth.
"As someone who is a student, that's something that really upset me because those are dollars that could have led to alleviating the burden economically on students," she said.
Chagger responded to Villagomez Fajardo, saying the federal government supported students with $13.1 billion during the pandemic.
"We ensured that the diversity of needs of students were included," Chagger said, noting a report on the Canada Student Service Grant is available to the public.
"Yes, it turned into a partisan boondoggle, frankly. If you actually look at what ended up in the pockets of Canadians, including youth and students, there is no government that has been able to deliver because we have never had a pandemic like this."
Transparency and promises made
For Jonathan Cassels, the NDP candidate in Waterloo, he said transparency is of the utmost importance for any government, as is keeping promises.
That's something, he said, the Liberal government has struggled with having not delivered on election promises of election reform, pharmacare or climate change.
"They made some big promises and things have gotten worse," he said. "Our government is the least transparent it's ever been."
"Integrity in government just means doing the things you say you will do," Cassels added.
Chagger countered that while serving as the member of parliament, she had an open door policy and was accessible and available to people.
"I believe integrity in government actually speaks to representing the voices of the constituents of the riding of Waterloo in Ottawa, not just Ottawa's voice in our riding, or the Liberal Party's voice in our riding, and that's what I've endeavoured to do," she said.
Conservative candidate Meghan Shannon declined to participate in the panel, but her website says she is running in this election because the riding deserves "strong, accountable leadership."
Shannon's website says, "she will fight for the issues that matter most to us, and reinforce the values of personal responsibility, commitment to community and responsible government."
People's Party of Canada candidate Patrick Doucette says on his website that the federal government is guilty of "mistakes, mismanagement and very often, outright corruption."
"Anybody with even a modest awareness of the political environment knows that there is plenty of room for improvement," his website says.
The candidates running in Waterloo are, in alphabetical order by last name:
- Jonathan Cassels, New Democratic Party.
- Bardish Chagger, Liberal Party of Canada.
- Patrick Doucette, People's Party of Canada.
- Meghan Shannon, Conservative Party of Canada.
- Karla Villagomez Fajardo, Green Party of Canada.
Voters go to the polls Sept. 20.