Letter: Conservative rhetoric at Panorama candidates’ forum dismal, disappointing

It's hard to pick the most offensive moment, but Conservative drew grumbles of disbelief at comment about children raised by strangers.

To the Editor:

I was disappointed by the Conservative performance at the All Candidates Meeting hosted by Panorama Neighbourhood Association, on October 4, which was, frankly, dismal.

And it was a performance, featuring transparent rhetoric and parroted lines delivered almost apologetically – or at least, so quietly that Dean Drysdale was asked to speak up in a classroom-sized space.

He and Harpreet Singh started off in okay form, Drysdale having gone around to shake everyone’s hand before the debate began. They ducked and muddled their way through questions about agriculture, finances, and crime. When asked about mental health, Drysdale passed on the question, admitting that he knew too little about it to say anything of value.

His comments about the universal childcare benefit elicited shocked exclamations, grumbles of disbelief, and shaken heads from the audience. He seems to think that it would tear families apart and force them to enroll their children at childcare facilities. He added that he disapproved of having children raised by ‘strangers’ and praised Canadians for their ability to work around the lack of universal childcare by playing Tetris with work shifts or getting Grandma to raise the kids. Cries of ‘what about single parents?’ and similar comments were disregarded.

Perhaps the most offensive moment – though at this point it’s hard to pick just one – occurred when the subject of Bill C-24 came up. When asked if he would disavow Harper’s euphemistic ‘old-stock Canadian’ comment, Drysdale gave a long-winded no. He said that he thought the term was an appropriate description and seemed exasperated that the media was making such a big deal about it. Singh added that he approved of the legislation because it only applies to terrorists and those committing high treason – anyone who isn’t a terrorist, he implied, shouldn’t be concerned about the bill. Neither of them seemed willing or able to understand how the bill might possibly create two classes of citizenship.

The sight of the Conservative candidates trying to sell the party line to an audience that had started out open minded but ended up mostly unsympathetic, their faces carefully blank as they gave increasingly scripted and  vague answers, was almost amusing. Less amusing is the fact that some people are still going to vote for them on October 19th.

Sylvia Traphan