Party candidates vying to be the Bow River riding’s new Member of Parliament (MP) in the upcoming federal election had an opportunity to address the public during an organized forum on Sept. 13.
The event was held at the Strathmore and District Agricultural Society, where the candidates were each given time to answer previously determined questions and to interact with attending constituents.
Candidates in attendance represented five opposing parties running in the Bow River riding. These included the Conservative Party of Canada, the Liberal Party of Canada, People’s Party, Maverick Party, and Christian Heritage Party.
An allotment of three minutes per candidate was strictly enforced during the forum, during which time candidates had the opportunity to answer pre-determined questions relevant to the Bow River constituents.
Included among the discussion topics was the representative’s and the party’s view regarding the potential for mandatory vaccinations.
“We oppose mandatory vaccines. They’re unscientific, they’re unethical, they violate personal autonomy, they’re socially dysfunctional, historically naïve, legally problematic, morally dubious, impractical and economically unsustainable,” said Christian Heritage Party candidate, Top Lipp.
“The COVID-19 vaccine appears ineffective at stopping the COVID-19 pandemic. What’s happening is real. They may actually pressure the virus to mutate into a more vaccine resistant form … natural immunity is more robust and durable than vaccination,” he said.
Liberal Party Candidate, Getu Shawile took a much different approach to the argument.
“Vaccines are 100 per cent safe … I respect the rights of the people on both sides of the debate,” he said.
“The Liberal Party wants to continue to invest in COVID-19 research and help with provinces and territories with what is required to litigate the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Conservative Candidate Martin Shields argued that it should be a choice — being available to those who want it, but not mandatory for those who do not.
“I’m not in favour of mandating it and neither is our party … but for people who want to make a choice to request some kind of documentation, you’re going to get that card so you can prove that you can go there,” said Shields.
“If it’s an option that people want because they can do that with a government recognized piece of paper, go for it. That’s an individual choice.”
Orrin Bliss, representing the Maverick party, said the decision for someone to get vaccinated should be between the individual and their doctor and not something to be imposed by politicians.
“I’m not anti-vaccine at all, I really enjoyed growing up without polio. But … a mandatory vaccine contravenes our right to life, liberty and freedom,” said Bliss.
“This is my body, your bodies, what you put into them is your decision. Our rights do not end where other’s fears begin.”
Jonathan Bridges with the People’s Party, stood firmly against mandating vaccines and vaccine passports of any kind.
“I’m absolutely against … a Prime Minister who is trying to excite the people against unvaccinated people, by telling them that it’s for their child’s safety that everyone needs to be vaccinated,” he said.
“However, I do believe that this is something of a big enough consequence that I feel the federal government should stand up for the rights of people to decide what is best for them.”
Campaigns and platforms for each of the five candidates can be found online along with more information about where they stand and what their views are.
Constituents eligible to vote are encouraged to find out more about the candidates prior to casting their vote for the election on Sept. 20.
John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times