Sticking to the script at the fiscal debate
Representatives from the three political parties vying for seats in the Newfoundland and Labrador election largely stuck to the script as they debated fiscal policy at the St. John's Board of Trade debate Tuesday night.
"We had everybody here because we had some important questions that we think are critical that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador have from all three political parties, but before they make their decision on election day," said Board of Trade chairman Jo Mark Zurel.
Zurel said with that in mind they, "posed those questions on things like demographics, a plan for debt reduction and diversifying [the] economy."
Of the three parties, the only party leader to attend the debate was Lorraine Michael of the New Democrats.
Representing the Progressive Conservatives and leader Kathy Dunderdale was the candidate for the district of Humber East and finance minister, Tom Marshall, while Danny Dumaresque, the candidate for the Isles of Notre Dame represented leader Kevin Aylward and the Liberals.
The moderator for the event was CBC provincial affairs reporter David Cochrane.
The candidates stuck to their parties' platforms and both opposition members challenged the PC record, while Tom Marshall defended his party's plan for the province.
For Dumaresque, much of the debate was spent taking swipes at the Muskrat Falls project.
"There's no way that we can go and build this kind of monster and have the responsibility of repaying it for the foreseeable revenues that we have. It's just impossible," said Dumaresque.
Michael used part of the debate to question the PC party's transparency with respect to money being put into Nalcor in order to emphasize an NDP call for democratic reform.
"$348 million passed over to Nalcor and we don't get an accounting of how that $348 million [is spent], we have to take their word," said Michael.
Meanwhile, Marshall stood up for his party's record and its plan for Muskrat Falls.
"Hydro, once it gets going, will provide us with revenue as along as the river flows to the sea," said Marshall.
Perhaps the most controversial statement of the night came from Dumaresque when he was asked to weigh-in on a call from the City St. John's for a new fiscal arrangement with the province.
The question was whether the parties support giving the city a break on the HST it pays to the province.
"I would have to say to the mayor of this great city that there are a hell of a lot more priorities outside the overpass that need to be addressed before we start forking more money over to the City of St. John's," said Dumaresque.
Looking at the end result of the night, Zurel said the end goal was achieved.
"We got all the answers from all three political parties and so now the people of Newfoundland and Labrador will be able to listen to their answers and make their decision on election day."