Liberals gather to watch leadership debate
Nelson Small of Parry Sound does some work on his computer tablet prior to the start of the federal Liberal leadership debate on Sunday. The Parry Sound-Muskoka Federal Liberal Association hosted a dinner in Port Sydney on Sunday, where members watched the televised debate.
HUNTSVILLE - An event this past Sunday in Port Sydney has put a new meaning into the phrase “table talk.”
The Parry Sound-Muskoka Federal Liberal Association hosted a dinner on Jan. 20 for members, supporters and potential supporters to watch the live broadcast of the federal Liberal leadership debate from Vancouver.
While people, including those from Muskoka, Burk’s Falls, Parry Sound and the Shawanaga First Nation sat and dined at the North Granite Golf Club, they watched the first debate involving leadership hopefuls Marc Garneau, Joyce Murray, Justin Trudeau, Martin Cauchon, Martha Hall Findlay, David Bertschi, Deborah Coyne, George Takach, and Karen McCrimmon.
During the two-hour debate, the leadership candidates touched on issues such as aboriginal poverty, the environment, socio-economic issues and the possibility of a carbon tax.
“This is the first time that all nine of the candidates are together in the same room, going head-to-head and discussing their vision for the future, for the party and the country,” riding president Leigh Beal said on Sunday.
Beal said the idea behind holding such events like Sunday’s dinner was to get the conversation going at the grassroots level about selecting a new party leader.
“It’s to get people together who are interested in this, and frankly it is not just Liberals. Other parties have sent delegates to watch the process because we are the supporters. The other parties are interested in seeing how this works.”
In fact, one person, Colin Sober-Williams of Huntsville, sported a Green Party button as he sat at a table in front of the television. He said he was there “as an observer” for his party.
Beal added that the dinner also helped build camaraderie among the riding party membership.
“Absolutely. People are getting together with common interests and common values and naturally you find new friends.”
This is not the first time the federal riding association has gathered together to view a national issue, according to Beal, but this is the fist time the association has decided to travel in the riding to host such events like the dinner. The next debate in the Liberal leadership race will be in Winnipeg on Feb. 2, and Beal said that the association will hold a similar get-together in Parry Sound to watch the debate.
“The RSVPs are still open for (Parry Sound) but we are expecting a comparable crowd to this one,” she said, adding that some members are planning to travel to Toronto on Feb. 16 to see that particular debate live.
The final two debates are slated for Halifax on March 3 and March 23 in Montreal. The Federal Liberal party will choose a new leader at a convention on April 14 in Ottawa.
Closer to home, Mark Garneau will be at the Riverside Inn in Bracebridge on Jan. 24 to meet with party faithful. For More information on the meeting, contact the association at email@example.com or call 705-224-9461.