The residents of Uxbridge kept embattled incumbent Bev Oda on her toes during a heated debate Sunday night at the Seniors Centre.
The current Member of Parliament was on the defensive throughout the federal debate after coming under fire for allegations of mismanagement and making false statements.
Betty Summerville, the wife of a local farmer, asked Oda about her promise to address the current predicament of farms in Durham.
“Since the day you said you’d help us, many farmers have requested meetings with you, asked for responses, and you never responded to any of our requests,” Summerville said.
Oda said her government has been there for farmers from the very beginning.
“Our government has always supported our local communities and their farmers,” Oda said. “I feel I’ve filled my commitment.”
But Oda’s monotone response left the audience unconvinced, with members shaking their heads and gesticulating towards the stage.
“You didn’t answer the question. Yes or no,” said a member from the audience.
Oda, 66, became known for her quietness in the House of Commons after being accused of doctoring a document concerning a $7-million development aid grant. The controversy revolved around her involvement with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
“I think everyone sitting here is an honest person,” Oda said, attempting to defend her government’s stance. “We try to work with the other parties issue by issue. However, after numerous minority governments I would say that the system is not working and this is why we need a majority government.”
Oda’s responses received emotions ranging from a disappointed general murmur to sudden bursts of sarcastic laughter and applause.
Roger Varley, another Uxbridge resident, accused Oda of not being honest with the public regarding a tax-free savings account.
“One of things you said was that the Conservatives will double the amount we can put into a tax-free savings account, which sounds fabulous,” Varley said. “But you didn’t tell us that, that doesn’t come into effect until after five years, so you weren’t really being straight forward with us,” he said.
A visibly flustered Oda gave the audience a push back. This time, her response was delivered with a more direct and persuasive voice.
“I didn’t lie, I didn’t mislead. I have a responsibility to make decisions,” she said. “I trust you to place your vote in truth, not based on unfounded allegations and name calling.”