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NDP debate exposes candidates to students

by The Concordian January 31, 2012
NDP debate exposes candidates to students

Photo by Navneet Pall

The orange wave has come and gone, leaving a trail of flyers and glossy buttons in its wake.

Last Wednesday, Concordia hosted an NDP leadership debate put on by NDP Concordia and several local branches of the federal party. Five candidates gathered in the Oscar Peterson Concert Hall to discuss some key issues in the campaign, and hopefully make a good impression on potential voters.

Hannah McCormick is a second-year Concordia student and NDP Concordia president. She was very pleased with the outcome of the debate, and hoped it would motivate more young people to get involved. “The purpose of the event was to inform people, not just about the candidates, but the NDP as a whole.”

Leadership hopefuls Peggy Nash, Brian Topp, Martin Singh, Niki Ashton and Nathan Cullen were all in attendance at the debate. Romeo Saganash cancelled at the last minute due to illness in the family. Quebec MP Thomas Mulcair and Ontario’s Paul Dewar had prior commitments and could not attend.

As the candidates were introduced, the audience began an enthusiastic cheer of “NDP! NDP! NDP!” There were approximately 300 people present, the majority of whom were students.

All the candidates began in French, and continued in both languages throughout the debate. Questions covered a wide variety of topics such as the environment, foreign policy and education. Candidates started off by discussing an issue relevant to Concordia students today: accessible education.

“Education is a right,” declared former NDP president Brian Topp. “We should not have to pay for a right.”

More cheering from the crowd arose when a question was asked concerning Palestinian statehood. Support grew as each candidate joined in advocating a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Candidates referenced the next federal election in their closing remarks, and expressed a shared goal in winning a majority government in 2015. The debate finished with a standing ovation and an opportunity to meet the candidates in person.
John Talbot, a volunteer at the event, said he doesn’t have a favourite in the campaign, but that one candidate in particular came out on top during the debate. “Peggy Nash definitely stood out today. Brian Topp really surprised me too,” he said.

Jason Brown is a card-carrying member of the party and was hoping the debate would give him a better idea of who to vote for. “[The debate] was really interesting. It hasn’t made my choice any easier,” said Brown. “I thought Nathan Cullen was really impressive though,” he added.


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