The gloves came off early in the Whistler All-Candidates meeting on Wednesday night, as incumbent Conservative MP John Weston and Liberal Party challenger Dan Veniez got into a series of heated exchanges. Halfway through the campaign it was clear that there was no love lost between these two candidates.
In started in the opening statements. Weston said the Liberal Party was making "flamboyant promises" in their campaign that were "uncosted and unrealistic," while pointing to the Conservative's record on the economic recovery.
Veniez then used his opening statement to call attention to the "millions of dollars" that Prime Minister Stephen Harper spent on attack ads against Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff. "That's what Conservatives do... They impugn your reputation. If they don't like you they fire you. They shut down Parliament." He also pointed out that the Conservative Party was the first in history to be found in Contempt of Parliament, though to be fair it was a highly partisan vote with Liberal, NDP and Bloc MPs voting together.
Then came a question on where the Liberal candidate stood on a coalition if it meant forming an alliance the Bloc Quebecois.
Veniez said it was obvious that the person asking the question had already made up their mind to vote Conservative then repeated the party line that the Liberal's goal was to win the election and that a coalition was not currently on the table.
However, like other Liberal candidates, he left the door open a crack: "Our duty as Parliamentarians is to work together, to consult, to make it work, and the tone and substance of the House of Commons is set by the Prime Minister. Under Harper we've seen more incivility and more corroding of the democratic process than under any leader in the recent history of Canada."
Weston used his next opportunity to speak to mention that Veniez called British Columbians whiners at the all-candidates meeting in West Vancouver: "We heard in West Vancouver (from Veniez) that British Columbians were whiners and complainers because they don't like how they were represented in Confederation," said Weston, before describing how the Democratic Representation Act - which would have given B.C. more seats in the House of Commons - died in Parliament because of the snap election call.
Veniez, who had the final word on that question, lost his temper. "John, your twisting of the facts borders on lies," he said, and then accused Weston of hiding behind his Blackberry and getting prompts from someone in the audience rather than speaking for himself.
Someone in the audience, which number about 70, called out, "that's a nasty comment," to which Veniez replied that what was nasty was the way Conservatives attack their opponents. "It's consistent with the attitude and mindset and general approach of Mr. Harper's Conservatives. It's embedded in their DNA. So stop it John. Stop it."
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