Candidates in the New Brunswick Progressive Conservative leadership race encouraged students to get involved in politics during a debate at St. Thomas University last Thursday.
Jake Stewart, Mel Norton, Brian Macdonald, Blaine Higgs and Mike Allen attended to answer questions from students and the public, discussing their platforms on big issues. Thomas Bateman, a Political Science professor at STU, moderated the event.
“The discussion was guided by the audience and the questions were provided by the audience and there were more questions than there was time,” Bateman said. “Not every piece of the public agenda was covered tonight but the candidates did a pretty good job to hit some of the high notes about the economy and population retention and public finances.”
Candidates were asked about population decline in New Brunswick, their thoughts on gender assignment and promoting economic growth through green energy, as well as their plans for uniting the PC Party.
“We’re missing a tremendous opportunity with students that are coming here, especially foreign students and students from outside the province,” said Mike Allen on the discussion of population decline in New Brunswick. “We need to keep investing in programs that will employ students and make them want to stay in New Brunswick.”
Brian Macdonald also commented on the issue, saying, “We can only keep people here if we offer jobs and careers for Canadian residents and students.”
On the topic of gender assignment, all candidates agreed that something must be done about supporting those personally dealing with the issue so they can get the proper medical and mental health treatment they need.
“It’s none of my business and it’s none of the government’s business. The government needs to get out of the way,” said Macdonald.
Both Macdonald and Allen mentioned how students attending STU and the University of New Brunswick who are interested in politics might be able to get involved in the political sector of Fredericton.
“Get involved in the campaign,” said Allen. “I encourage students to invite us and bring students who are studying subjects such as political science, and then discuss different policy ideas and say ‘Well, why do you have this policy versus this policy?’ and ‘Allow me to understand.’”
Macdonald said getting involved is as easy as volunteering.
“I will employ anyone at any time as a volunteer to help out. The process needs volunteers and we need students to be engaged. I’ll put them to work, that’s not a problem. If you want to get involved in politics, just pick up the phone and call a politician.”
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