Perth-Wellington Liberal candidate and former St. Marys town councillor Stephen McCotter (second from right along wall) gathered with a group of the riding’s Liberal supporters on Aug. 6 at the Queen’s Inn in Stratford to watch the campaign’s first Federal leaders debate which took place in Toronto.
By Dan Rankin
After a day spent launching his campaign on a farm tour of north Wellington County Aug. 6, Perth-Wellington Liberal candidate Stephen McCotter and some of the riding’s Liberal Party supporters gathered at the Queen’s Inn in Stratford to watch the broadcast of the first leaders debate.
After what he described as a strong debut debate performance by his party’s leader, McCotter said he was pleased by what he saw. “Trudeau obviously laid out his plan,” he said. “He’s the only one that, on every question, had a very clear answer. He didn’t hedge in any way on any issue.”
On NDP leader Thomas Mulcair, McCotter said he “would’ve liked to have seen Mulcair be a little more forward on some of the questions that were posed to him.”
At this point, there’s no question about the values of the current Prime Minister, he said. “Harper is who he is,” he said. “If you’re going to support him, you are, and if you’re not, I think the Trudeau Liberals are the ones you need to support.”
As for the Green Party leader, McCotter said she deserves to be heard in every leader’s debate. Citing their over-500,000 votes received in the 2011 election, he said “to think that they won’t be in every debate is disgraceful.”
“They’re trying to silence Elizabeth May,” he said. “You saw that she didn’t go after any one person. She called every one of them out. That’s what Harper and Mulcair don’t want.”
Reflecting on his leader’s performance, McCotter was excited. “He’s a Canadian lover and a Canadian at heart and I just thought it was great,” he said. “I thought to myself, he’s only going to get better after that.”
McCotter is up against three other candidates in Perth-Wellington (John Nater, Ethan Rabidoux and Cody Sebben) vying to replace the retiring Gary Schellenberger as the riding’s next representative in Ottawa. Schellenberger was the last Progressive Conservative MP elected to the House of Commons.
Though he was interested to see how the leaders each performed, McCotter said he knew that ultimately, the election will be won by the candidates. Looking ahead to the campaign, he said “every voter in this riding needs to look at all three candidates, look at their credentials, look at their life experience, work experience, and say ‘I’m electing this member of parliament, and however it shakes out at the top is fine with me, but this is the person I want as my member of parliament’.”
The 42nd Canadian general election is scheduled for Oct. 19.