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Cotler holds pre-election town hall meeting
Article mis en ligne le jeudi 31 mars 2011

Photo: Anja Karadeglija

Mount Royal MP Irwin Cotler speaks at a town hall meeting held in the riding on March 17.

As speculation about a federal election heated up across the country, constituents in the Mount Royal riding aired their opinions and concerns at a meeting held by Liberal MP Irwin Cotler.

During the question and answer portion of the event, which was held on March 17, audience members brought up issues like access to English language services, current scandals in Parliament, and anti-Semitism. A running theme throughout the evening was the federal parties’ stances on Israel.

Audience members brought up the issue, with criticisms that both Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff and former leader Stéphane Dion had not been supportive enough in the past, leaving Cotler to defend the leaders.

“The only thing that people seem to remember is that criticism of Israel in August 2006,” he said in response to an audience member who questioned comments Ignatieff had made several years ago. “Every single statement and act since 2006 has been supportive of Israel. We all make mistakes.”
During a speech to kick off the evening, Cotler also brought up fundraising flyers sent by the Conservatives targeting Jewish households in the riding in 2009. The flyers focused only on three issues: combatting anti-Semitism, combatting terrorism and support for Israel, Cotler said.
“All important issues, but it’s stereotyping a community, including the Jewish community, to say that that’s the only thing the community cares about,” he said.

Cotler said that the flyers misrepresented the Liberals’, and Cotler’s, record.

Other concerns brought up by attendees at the meeting included the Conservative government’s decision to buy new jet fighter planes, the Bev Oda scandal, Canada’s relationship with India, and aboriginal issues.

“I have serious concerns, and many Canadians have serious concerns, over the waste that’s going on in Parliament, because we see that the expenditures of the government in the last few years have grown by over 30 per cent, and that is really uncalled for,” said one man.

Morris Libstut, who lives in the riding, said that he was satisfied with what he had heard and learned at meeting.

“I’m satisfied because I was aware of some of the goings-on in Parliament, but I didn’t know all the facts,” he said.

[ Anja Karadeglija ]

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