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Tory leadership candidates talk health care, internet, education

Rustico-Emerald MLA Brad Trivers, left, and Stratford-Kinlock MLA James Aylward took part in the first P.E.I. Progressive Conservative leadership forum Tuesday in Summerside.
Rustico-Emerald MLA Brad Trivers, left, and Stratford-Kinlock MLA James Aylward took part in the first P.E.I. Progressive Conservative leadership forum Tuesday in Summerside.

SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. – Health care and high-speed internet were two of the hot topics Tuesday in Summerside during the first of four Tory leadership forums.

About 80 people attended the event to hear where Rustico-Emerald MLA Brad Trivers and Stratford-Kinlock MLA James Aylward stand on an array of topics.

Trivers said after the debate he is passionate about high-speed internet.

“If we want small businesses to be able to run and grow on the Island, if we want communities to grow in rural areas and across the Island, we need to have a reliable, faster internet,” he said. “It’s a no-brainer.”

Health care was a topic Aylward stressed, saying countless Islanders have contacted him by phone, email, Facebook and in person.

He specifically mentioned concerns about mental health, addictions, a child advocate and the possibility of a senior’s advocate.

“I don’t have my head in the sand,” he said. “I know that there are cases on the Island of elder abuse, or say they decide to only take half a dose of medication because it’s that or they won’t be able to eat because they can’t afford medication and food. There are some who can’t afford to heat their homes in the winter.”

The debate started with five-minute introductions for each candidate. A moderator posed four questions with two minutes to answer and a 60-second rebuttal.

Kent Pendleton of Trout River, who stood up twice to ask questions, said he found the event “very educational” and “very useful.”

“Forced amalgamation is something on the mind and I wanted to hear their opinions,” he said. “We moved to a rural area because we want to be there. But we don’t want to be forced back into a city-like scenario. If a community wants to amalgamate, I’m all for it. But if they don’t, they shouldn’t be made to.”

Pendleton also questioned the candidates about the growing debt on the Island.

“I wanted to know how they planned to get a balanced budget. The answers were a mixed response, but it was something I can take away with me.”

Party members will vote in advance and learn who their new leader is on Oct. 20 as the Tories forgo a leadership convention.

Where and when

A look at the upcoming leadership forums for the P.E.I. Progressive Conservative party?

Sept. 19 – Bloomfield Legion.

Sept. 26 – Holland College campus in Charlottetown.

Oct. 4 – Rodd Brudenell.

 

Millicent.mckay@journalpioneer.com

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