WINDSOR -- One issue stood out at the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce federal election debate.
The candidates from the ridings of Windsor West, Windsor Tecumseh and Essex discussed everything from health care to infrastructure – but trade was the major focus.
The Liberal candidates were in attack mode against the NDP incumbents over the party’s pledge to rip up the new NAFTA agreement.
“We don't deserve MP’s who want to rip up NAFTA, our very livelihood, and I'm not going to let that go,” said Windsor West Liberal Sandra Pupatello. “You're not going to get up off the mat wanting to tear up NAFTA. That is what our community deserves and that is to be pro-trade."
“That creates a level of uncertainty that both workers and our manufacturers simply cannot risk at this point,” added Windsor-Tecumseh Liberal Irek Kusmierczyk.
But Essex NDP incumbent Tracey Ramsey insists they can get a better agreement.
“We've been quite clear that this is a concessionary deal and it could be better,” said Ramsey.
The new NAFTA – also referred to as the US-Mexico-Canada agreement -- has been signed by all three countries but is not yet ratified in Canada or the United States.
“When the new NAFTA is not being ratified because of certain glaring issues regarding fair trade, that means we need to revisit it,” added Windsor Tecumseh NDP incumbent Cheryl Hardcastle.
But Pupatello believes any talk about Canada re-opening negotiations is "reckless and thoughtless."
“I've been quite clear about our position and the fact that we deserve a better deal then we have,” said Ramsey. “Obviously Democrats in the U.S. feel the same way because they've been working on this for a few months."