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Crowds come out for debate night

Debate night

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

The four big party leaders battled it out in the first debate of the 2015 election on Aug. 6 and the people of Oshawa had a chance to not only watch the debate, but also meet those candidates who may represent them in Oshawa following the Oct. 19 election.

NDP candidate Mary Fowler held a debate viewing at the Thirsty Monk in downtown Oshawa, an event that brought out a large crowd of supporters to cheer on party leader Tom Mulcair as he looked to top Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and Green party leader Elizabeth May in a war of words.

Fowler says the level of engagement already in the election campaign is a great sign.

“People are paying attention now,” she says. “Which is a great thing because they’re seeing that Tom Mulcair is a principal leader and there is an opportunity for change here both in Oshawa, but also in the country.”

It would be hard to declare a clear winner from Thursday’s debate, but the event, hosted by Maclean’s magazine, was a chance for three leaders to attack the prime minster for his record on the economy and other hot ticket issues.

Fowler says getting people out in the community to discuss these issues is what will eventually bring out change.

“At an event like this we get to share our ideals with one another and have conversations about how we’re going to make a difference in the community,” she says.

Conservative incumbent Colin Carrie, who will be looking to get elected for the fifth time in the fall, also had supporters at his campaign office to watch the debate and felt his party leader had a strong showing.

“Of course, the prime minister has experience. He’s got the leadership and the ability to focus on the big issues that affect all Canadians,” Carrie said.

Carrie says he has also seen healthy engagement from the citizens of Oshawa early on in the election campaign, and many are voicing the same concerns.

“The people of Oshawa are aware the election is on and, of course, there were the issues, and what they’re telling me at the door, the economy is still the number one issue.”

Also drawing a crowd for the debate was the campaign office of Liberal candidate and former city councillor Tito-Dante Marimpietri.

He says the people of Oshawa are excited to see a candidate like himself on the ballot.

“When it comes to Oshawa, we haven’t had a hometown proud candidate represent them as a member of parliament since Michael Starr or Ed Broadbent,” he says.

The main room of Marimpietri’s campaign headquarters on King Street West was filled with people of all ages – a sign, he says, is telling of what people are looking for following this year’s election.

“We’ve got multiple generations here from kids to people who have been pillars of our community and they’ve seen what our community was and what it can be and what essentially they deserve for their grandkids and families,” he says.