CANADA’S military intervention in Libya drew sharp comments from candidates running for the Skeena – Bulkley Valley seat in the federal election at the REM Lee Theatre last night.
When asked why he supported sending jets to Libya while opposing the Afghanistan military mission, New Democrat Nathan Cullen said there was never a clear understanding of how to leave or how to know when to leave Afghanistan.
In Libya, Cullen continued, intervention is limited to strikes by jets operating under the command of NATO through a United Nations resolution.
“There will not be Canadian boots on the ground,” he said.
That, added Cullen, was a correct decision made by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
He said it was crucial to stop “lunatic dictator” Muammar Gaddafi from killing his own people.
Liberal Kyle Warwick said he was proud of of his party’s leadership in past peacekeeping missions as well as this one.
The Canadian Action Party’s Maggie Braun did note that Gaddafi’s government provides free education and health care and $50,000 to couples when they marry.
“If I have to live under an elected dictator here, I wish he would do this for us,” she said.
Green Roger Benham said he was shocked the NDP would support military intervention.
And he wondered why western forces weren’t also bombing targets in Syria and Bahrain where civilians are also being killed by their governments.
“They don’t have oil,” Benham continued. “This is a war about oil.”
The real purpose of the action by the west in Libya is to install a regime that is friendly to the west, he said.
Candidates also staked out their ground regarding Enbridge’s planned $5.5 billion Northern Gateway Pipeline project.
Conservative Clay Harmon favoured waiting until a federal environmental review was finished before making a decision.
“Until benefits exceed the risks in this community, I would not speak in favour of the Enbridge pipeline,” he said.
Rod Taylor from the Christian Heritage Party opposed the pipeline plan because it would run through traditional First Nations territory where treaties had yet to be negotiated.
He also opposed suggestions oil could be moved by train instead of by pipeline.
There were also lively exchanges on increasing Canada Pension Plan payments and on abortion.
Just over 150 people attended the meeting, the largest all candidates session in the riding to date.
Candidates did speak earlier in the day to audiences at Caledonia Secondary and at Northwest Community College.
The evening’s moderator was Northwest Community College president Denise Henning and it was sponsored by The Terrace Standard with the assistance of the REM Lee Theatre, the Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce, Terrace Toastmasters and the Skeena Valley Rotary Club. Journalists from CFNR, Astral Media and The Terrace Standard sat on a media panel.