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The latest Burnaby South debate on February 11th, saw Jagmeet Singh digging in and delivering underhanded attacks against PPC candidate Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson.

The debate was hosted by the Burnaby Interagency Council at a local public school, where the candidates spoke about inclusion, and more particularly “How can we make Burnaby South a community for all residents, particularly those who are most vulnerable?”

The event saw all of the candidates in the byelection participate, including the independent candidates, Terry Grimwood, as well as Valentine Wu.

Jagmeet Singh swings back at the PPC

The main feature of this debate were points where Jagmeet Singh shot back at the main debate opponent Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson (PPC).

On several issues including refugees and youth LGBT issues, the NDP leader gave several underhanded punches against the PPC candidate, Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson.

Up until now, voters have expected the riding to play out along traditional Liberal-NDP lines. Since the first debate the PPC have come to the forefront as the leading vocal contender against the NDP party leader, Jagmeet Singh.

Whether the debate success will reflect in riding votes is yet to be seen.

The housing crisis

One of the main issues to arise during the debate was the housing situation.

Housing prices in BC have skyrocketed over the last few years, reflecting a situation in other high-populated areas across the country.

Housing has been a key issue in the Burnaby South byelection and it’s no surprise it came up.

“What we need to do is, we need to start building homes again, back in the 70s, back in the late 40s, our government at the federal level used to invest in housing,” said Jagmeet Singh.

“We need to build half a million affordable units across this country, non-market, cooperative housing, we need to build these units. We need to make sure that everyone in our country can access housing, it’s a fundamental necessity in our society and this government has left people behind.”

In response the Liberal candidate Richard Lee said that the NDP has no true plan to solve a housing crisis and that Liberal housing units, subsidies and increased supply will be a better solution.

On the issue of housing, the PPC candidate disagreed.

“Housing is a provincial legislated issue and so what will really help is the plan of the People’s Party of Canada put forward by Maxime Bernier: to lower taxes, to abolish capital gains tax, to abolish Vancouver trade barriers and get people back to work,” said PPC candidate Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson.

“When you are a leader of the entire NDP party why are you talking about housing which is provincial? Why are you not talking about lower taxes? Because, your party platform wants to raise taxes, if you care about the people of Canada, then start caring about making real promises to the people.”

CPC candidate Jay Shin claimed that both the NDP and the LPC are citing numbers without actually considering costs to taxpayers.

The refugee crisis

Another central question that candidates were asked to speak on was the refugee crisis occurring on the southern border with the United States.

In the last year alone, over 40,000 refugee claims were made in Canada, approximately 24,000 of these were made along the border with Quebec.

“The issue is we do need to know who they are, we do need to understand that there are some people who enter our country who might not share our values,” said Thompson.  

“Case in point, Marrisa Shen, she’s a 13 year old girl that was murdered right here in Burnaby South, in Central Park. That precious girl, her life was taken from her, by refugees, not all refugees would do such a heinous act, but surely we need to know who is coming into our country.”

PPC candidate Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson referenced the case of Burnaby South local Marrisa Shen who was allegedly murdered by Syrian Refugee Ibrahim Ali who is facing a first-degree murder charge for her death.  

“I’m disgusted by some of the values being espoused, that I’ve just heard. We’re talking about people in need, we’re talking about people fleeing danger, fleeing death, these are people fleeing serious situations, we need to have a caring heart,” followed Singh.

“We can’t allow divisive rhetoric to force people one against another, people are clapping when we say we need to turn away illegals but I don’t hear anybody clap when we hear anyone talk about how our country is built on immigration, our country is built on immigration, we should celebrate that.”

Both loud cheers and boos followed Singh’s reply.

Before these responses, CPC candidate Jay Shin claimed that he was against illegal immigration but supported legal immigration and pointed to the Liberal sponsorship program as an issue.

The youth suicide crisis

Another main issue that surfaced was the national problem of youth suicide, particularly plaguing LGBT youth.

“My concern is that we may not have the resources available, given the way that our Liberal government has given away money,” said CPC candidate, Jay Shin.

Suicide has been a national issue among the youth as a greater number of young people are facing mental health issued throughout the country.

“I think we have a national crisis going on, I think that we have all lost our identity, I think that we have a leader that doesn’t think that Canada has a true identity,” said PPC candidate Thompson.

“In an age like this we are not teaching young people what it means to be truly Canadian, I actually think we do have an identity, our identity was founded in truth and integrity, and we’ve got to start returning some of those values and teaching those values in school rather than some of the misappropriated things that are being taught in school these days… give them an identity and they wont commit suicide.”

Thompson has been criticized for her views on the gender-identity curriculum SOGI, taught throughout British Columbia throughout the campaign.

“Hidden in some of the comments that you’ve just heard is the idea that some people don’t belong given who they are, and somehow it’s wrong to be an LGBTQ person, and somehow it’s wrong to be who you are, that your  identity is wrong, I reject that absolutely,” said Jagmeet Singh.

Singh also addressed homelessness and aboriginal communities as being hardest hit by the problem.

What’s next for the Burnaby South byelection?

Moving forward the candidates are set to debate soon before the February 25th byelection.

No further polls have emerged before the upcoming election and another debate is scheduled soon.