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Daggers out at all-candidates meeting

Four of riding's nine candidates talk



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Weston did use another opportunity to deny Veniez's Blackberry accusation, pointing to his experience running for Party leader and standing as a candidate in two federal elections.

Points scored on both sides, the debate did get a lot more civil after that point - although it was pretty clear that there were some large points of contention on everything from military spending to health care spending.

Some of the credit for the change and tone belongs to Roger Lagassé, the body between Weston and Veniez, who was genuinely funny and seemed to enjoy the debate, and to eloquent but soft-spoken Green Party candidate Brendan Wauters. Both Lagassé, representing the Progressive Canadian Party, and Wauters scored points of the night, and earned their fair share of the audience applause (although Lagassé was rebuked near the end of the night after including a 9/11 conspiracy book in the list of book titles her recommended). Whether that will translate into any votes will be seen on May 2.

Terry Platt, the NDP candidate, could not make the Whistler Chamber of Commerce-sponsored debate because of her mother's 75th birthday party. There was no explanation why the other four candidates - representing the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada, Canada Action Party, Western Block Party and Canadian Libertarian Party - were not in attendance.

After bios and statements, the candidates got into the questions from the public.

On the issue of coalitions directed to Veniez, the Liberal candidate said the goal was a Liberal majority - but he didn't rule out cooperation between opposition parties. Wauters said the Green Party was looking for a majority as well, but if there were a coalition he would hope that Green Party members would be in it. "We don't know if it's going to happen so it's an academic question at this point." Weston said that the Liberal Leader was on record in favour of coalitions, and said that the election was unnecessary. He also warned that more elections would likely come unless the Conservative Party could win a majority. "My opponent would say there's no such thing as an unnecessary election, but look at the $300 million (cost of the election) and all the bills that died on the table. It is unnecessary. Now, we're in election mode instead of debating the Democratic Representation Act in the House of Commons."

Legassé said he was in favour of coalitions, and that we wouldn't be in an election right now if the opposition parties had formed a coalition. He also didn't have an objection to separatists in a coalition, as long as they didn't discuss sovereignty. "I think it would be a good government, and (a coalition with Bloc Quebecois members) probably would have been positive."