Candidates' debate provides content and comic relief
University of Sherbrooke students may not have known who they wanted to vote for before yesterday's all-candidates debate on campus, but most left the meeting knowing who not to vote for.
Liberal candidate Jean-François Rouleau, who had an earlier booking to open his Lennoxvile electoral office, did not show up for the debate that assembled five of seven candidates vying for the Sherbrooke seat in the House of Commons. That left incumbent Bloc Québécois MP Serge Cardin to face a rag tag bunch of third party candidates. Also on hand for the lively and often comical debate were Canadian Alliance candidate Mark Quinlan,...; Progressive Conservative candidate Eric l'Heureux,...; Marxist-Leninist party candidate Serge Lachapelle,...; and Independent candidate Serge Joseph Adrien Bourassa-Lacombe, a former psychiatric patient who says he didn't want to run but God made him do it.
Olivier Chalifoux, a representative for the New Democratic Party from nearby Megantic-Compton come to pinch hit for Sherbrooke candidate Craig Wright «...».'' Cardin, who was a town councillor for 22 years before becoming MP for Sherbrooke, described the riding as a ''region of learning'' thanks to its two universities, two colleges, and other training centers. He said one of the main roles of Sherbrooke's MP is to promote the University of Sherbrooke - the region's largest employer which has an annual budget of more than $200 million, $40 million of which is devoted to research.
The Bloc candidate blamed under funding at the University of Sherbrooke and other post-secondary institutions on cuts to federal transfer payments earmarked for education spending. He said post-secondary education is receiving its lowest funding in 30 years when compared to the Gross National Product and Ottawa must invest $500 million of its $5-billion surplus in post-secondary education spending.
That would bring $22 million back to the deficit plagued University of Sherbrooke, he said.
Quinlan «...» Chalifoux «...»
Bourassa-Lacombe, who said he plans to battle the ''medical mafia'', had little to say about educational issues. Bourassa-Lacombe who pedaled some 16,000 kilometres throughout North American in a attempt to raise awareness about his battle to have his mental health records expunged, said he has lived through a lot and can bring about change.