Nova Scotia

Hundreds turn out to hear from Sydney-Victoria candidates

Close to 350 people turned out Thursday night to hear from the seven candidates in the Cape Breton riding of Sydney-Victoria.

Field of candidates to replace Liberal Mark Eyking, who held seat for 19 years, is unprecedented

The field of candidates to replace Liberal Mark Eyking, who has held the seat for 19 years, is unprecedented (Wendy Martin/CBC)

Close to 350 people turned out Thursday night to hear from the seven candidates in the Cape Breton riding of Sydney-Victoria.

There were a few testy moments when Veterans Coalition Party of Canada founder and leader, Randy Joy, and independent candidate Kenzie MacNeil questioned the Liberal Party promise to boost health-care funding by $6 billion.

"It's probably not the first lie that Justin Trudeau told," said MacNeil.

"I don't believe it's going to happen," said Joy.

Liberal candidate Jaime Battiste and Conservative candidate Eddie Orrell also sparred over the health-care issue, each blaming the other party for failing Cape Breton.

"Ten years of inaction by Harper and we're fixing it now with a $6 billion investment," said Battiste.

"What about the last four?" interrupted Orrell.

While independent candidate Archie MacKinnon, MacNeil and Joy criticized previous Liberal and Conservative governments for inaction and wasteful spending, NDP candidate Jodi McDavid and Green Party representative Lois Foster outlined their parties' platforms during the debate.

McDavid drew applause when she promised to call for a royal commission to look into equalization payments.

"What a royal commission will do is engage in fact-finding, information gathering, public opinion sampling, and very importantly, policy creation," said McDavid.

Foster answered a question about taxes and fiscal responsibility by saying the other candidates were missing the point.

"If we don't change the climate destruction that we have brought on ourselves, we are not going to have a world and money is worth nothing," said Foster.

The field of candidates to replace Liberal Mark Eyking, who has held the seat for 19 years, is unprecedented.

Orrell, who is a former Progressive Conservative MLA, resigned so he could run in the federal campaign.

MacNeil ran twice for the Conservatives in Cape Breton-Canso, but was unsuccessful.

MacKinnon, who ran unsuccessfully under the NDP banner in the 1980s, is now an independent.

Battiste is new to politics, as is NDP candidate McDavid and Green Party representative Foster.

Joy formed his own party after retiring from the armed forces.

The debate was organized by CBC Cape Breton and moderated by Information Morning Cape Breton host Steve Sutherland.

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