Debates slated for next week

Local candidates in the upcoming federal election will have the opportunity to debate the issues twice in Rainy River District next Wednesday (Jan. 11), with one scheduled in Fort Frances and the other in Stratton.
Incumbent Ken Boshcoff (Liberal), John Rafferty (NDP), and David Leskowski (Conservative) all have confirmed their attendance at both debates.
Green candidate Russ Aegard has not yet confirmed for the one in Fort Frances but the Rainy River Federation of Agriculture, which is hosting the Stratton debate, indicated Aegard will be on hand there next Wednesday night.
The Fort Frances debate will be held at the Civic Centre at noon.
The candidates each will be given three minutes to make opening remarks. From there, they will field questions from members of the local media on pre-assigned topics.
The Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce, which is organizing the debate, will ask a question related to economic development in Northwestern Ontario.
The Westend Weekly will broach the topic of the privatization of health care, B•93 FM has been assigned a question on the federal surplus, while the Times will ask a question related to the forestry crisis and mill closures.
Fort Frances Today will bring up international border crossing issues.
Each candidate will have two minutes to respond to each question, then will have one minute for a rebuttal after everyone has spoken.
Following the prepared questions, the Chamber as allotted 15 minutes for audience questions, though this may be eliminated from the program.
The final section of the debate allows for closing remarks from each candidate, up to a maximum of three minutes.
The entire debate is expected to last about two hours.
Times publisher Jim Cumming will act as the moderator while Chamber first vice-president will act as timekeeper.
Shaw Cable will tape the event and air it regularly on Channel 10 until the Jan. 23 election.
Meanwhile, RRFA spokesperson Linda Armstrong said the debate in Stratton should be “user-friendly” event.
“It should be more one-on-one,” she said. “And everyone has the option to ask questions.”
All four candidates will have time to put forth their mandates and platforms. Then after a rebuttal, they will take questions from the floor.
Armstrong said she also has invited the candidates to come early to meet with the public—another one-on-one opportunity.
“We’ll take a coffee break after about an hour, too,” she added, stressing the importance of time to mingle with the public.
“We’ve had excellent turnouts at past events,” Armstrong said. “So we’re hoping to generate that interest again.”
Armstrong indicated she hopes lots of agricultural and rural issues will be brought up, considering the debate is being held among the rural villages.
The debate will begin at 7 p.m. in the auditorium at Our Lady of the Way School. The doors will open at 6:15.