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Reynolds the target at election forum

All the candidates were there, but the person Squamish residents most wanted to hear from was John Reynolds.

All the candidates were there, but the person Squamish residents most wanted to hear from was John Reynolds.

The Member of Parliament for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast was peppered with questions at the all-candidates' meeting organized by the Squamish Chamber of Commerce and held Monday (June 21) at the Sea to Sky Hotel.

The incumbent, who is running for the Conservative Party of Canada, was asked to speak about issues ranging from the Conservative Party's stance on the Canadian Radio Television and Telecommunications Commission to the concept of fixed federal election dates.

None of the other candidates at the meeting - Marc Bombois of the Canadian Action Party, Green candidate Andrea Goldsmith, Anne Jamieson representing the Marxist-Leninist Party, New Democrat Nicholas Simons, and Liberal Blair Wilson - were asked any questions by the more than 100 voters in attendance, but each had the right of reply to the questions asked of Reynolds.

Jamieson had first crack at opening remarks.

"Stop paying the rich and start paying for social programs," Jamieson said. She repeated the line a number of times through the course of the meeting.

Wilson said in his opening comments that he is listening to the constituents of the riding.

"The reason I'm standing here today is to ask you what your priorities are," said the rookie federal campaigner.

Reynolds opened by claiming to be one of the most accessible MPs in Ottawa. He said he can be reached 24 hours a day through his cell phone and when he doesn't answer people leave messages and get a return call.

"I believe Stephen Harper will make a great Prime Minister of Canada and I'd like to be there with him," Reynolds said.

Bombois said in his first address to the audience that his party was created to prevent Canada from being taken over the U.S. and he said the "corporate" parties are facilitating the corporate take over of Canada.

Simons criticized the Conservative Party by suggesting it was weak as Canada's official opposition party.

Goldsmith was the final speaker to offer opening remarks. She called r a return to grass roots democracy and community-based economics. She said communities know best what is right for local areas.

The first question probed what each candidate felt was the most important issue in the election. Bombois said for him it is the need to stop all trade deals while Reynolds said integrity in leadership is the top priority.

For Goldsmith, democracy and representation are the priorities because many Canadians feel alienated by federal politicians.

Simons said the last thing Canadians need is another federal person telling everyone what to do.According to Wilson, the priority is to diversify the economy and create jobs.

When asked if they would protest potential scandalous use of government money before the wasteful spending begins.

Wilson said he would lead by example and work to change the culture in Ottawa to prevent wasteful spending.

Simons reported that he is an independent thinker with strong family values to back his decision-making.

According to Goldsmith, the Green Party will prevent wasteful spending by bringing in more independent government watchdogs.

Reynolds indicated that his party plans to significantly increase the budget of the Auditor General. He also pointed out that he has a track record of standing up for what is right when he believes his party is doing wrong.

Another question dealt with marijuana and whether it should be legalized.

Reynolds supports allowing people to possess as much as five grams and he believes the legislation needed to make that a reality should be put to a free vote in the House of Commons.

Goldsmith and Simons both said marijuana should be legalized and taxed. Bombois said he stopped using it but supports decriminalization.

Wilson said he is against legalizing the drug.

Through the rest of the questions from the audience, Wilson outlined his party's stance and then talked about how the "the radical right" plans to deal with the same issue. Reynolds made numerous references to integrity and he said many times he was successful in working with local councils and the federal Liberals to bring water and sewer improvement funds to the constituency.Marc Bombois focused on slamming the financial record of the Liberal and Conservative parties.

"I see them as the same heads on a separate corporate monster," Bombois said in his closing remarks.

Goldsmith called for fundamental changes in the way things work in Ottawa, "Old fashioned and divisive politics do not serve us."

Simons had a similar message, "We've been let down by discussion of divisive issues. the federal NDP is a reasonable choice."

Wilson called the current election one of the most important in history. "I want to be part of that new generation that Paul Martin is bringing forward."