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Trahan a no-show at Pride North Bay debate. Variety of issues discussed

'We talked about the debate but as soon as they found out it was Pride that was the last thing we heard from them'
20210916 pride north bay debate wide 1
The podium for Steven Trahan sat empty at the North Bay Pride debate at the Capitol Centre.

For the second event in a row, only three of the four candidates attended an Federal All-Candidates Debate. 

On Tuesday, YourTV did not invite PPC candidate Greg Galante to take part (due to not having any elected members in Parliament) and on Thursday during the North Bay Pride event, Conservative candidate Steve Trahan did not accept the invitation.  

Trahan's handlers say he took part in the YourTV debate in North Bay on Tuesday and travelled to New Liskeard for another function within the riding on Wednesday. 

"We had other events planned," stated Tom Fletcher, campaign manager for Steve Trahan. 

Trahan told BayToday's David Briggs that he had a conflict and was meeting with federal conservatives and a regional manager that evening for a mandatory party meeting. Trahan acknowledged he cannot make every event.  

Organizers of the North Bay Pride hosted debate say Trahan nor his campaign manager Tom Fletcher responded to the invitation.  

"It is disappointing because it really sends a very clear message about what people think about the community and who is important to them or not," said Mclennan. 

"Not showing up, especially when they knew and had lots of notice, is unacceptable and the strange thing is when we first talked to Steven and his team, the first couple conversations were great because we wanted to do an interview for Pride, we talked about the debate but as soon as they found out it was Pride that was the last thing we heard from them."  

You can see the entire debate here.

The event was hosted by charismatic Drag performer Geri Atrick who took swipes at Trahan for not attending while Liberal incumbent Anthony Rota, NDP candidate Scott Robertson, and PPC candidate Greg Galante attended the in-person event which took place at the Capitol Centre.  

See related: Drag Queen will moderate local election debate promising 'Nothing like you have seen before'

Nipissing First Nation Chief Scott McLeod was one of the first to ask a debate question to the candidates asking what they felt the issues were locally for indigenous people within the riding.  

Rota noted education and talked about industry and business coming together to create jobs and homeless issues can go away with job creation. 

Homelessness and housing within the local indigenous community were highlighted by Robertson as his priorities within the subject.  

Galante learned later in life that his grandmother was Algonquin First Nation. Galante says the Indian Act should be dismantled and install a framework of mutual respect and cooperation. 

Rota and Robertson grappled about Pharma Care in the first half of the debate.  

"We have clearly got the backs of Queer and Trans people when it comes to access to health care," stated Robertson.  

Rota says the federal government is working with the provinces and believes under the Liberals "you will see it there for everyone."  

Robertson questioned Rota about his approach regarding programs the Federal government does not have in place yet, such as Pharma Care.  

"You don't have to excuse yourself, just say what you have to say," Rota quipped at Robertson before asking a question. 

"When he talks about 'if we lose this election, we will lose child care we will lose Pharma Care we are going to lose legislation on banning conversion therapy, we are going to lose legislation on mandatory minimum sentences, to be honest, it sounds like we are being held hostage on that and he could be in Ottawa doing that right now," Robertson tried to point out.  

Rota did not disagree. 

"There are a whole slew of things that we have addressed that we are working on and if the Liberals don't get in, I'm just pointing out what will happen," he said. 

In the second half, the candidates touched on the stigma connected to COVID-19 vaccinations. Greg Galante, who does not support any form of vaccine passport initiative claims, as a firefighter he has worked on the front lines during SARS and H1N1.  

"Our approach has been off the wall compared to the other two, and I will leave it there," said Galante. 

Rota made the analogy that COVID-19 vaccines are like when seat belt laws came into effect.

"The vaccine I see as a seat belt for your health as it keeps you safe," noted Rota in his comparison.  

The Federal election takes place Monday, September 20.