NDP and PPC supporters shout each other down over immigration in heated Burnaby South debate

Days before the Burnaby South byelection, the debate on immigration has erupted into an emotional shouting match.

Cosmin Dzsurdzsa Montreal QC

The third Burnaby South debate was by far the most passionate and emotional since the February byelection was called by the prime minister.

The debate, which was hosted by CBC's Jason D'Souza engaged the candidates on several issues including housing shortages, immigration and the economy.

Among the candidates present were Terry Grimwood (independent), Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson (PPC), Jagmeet Singh (NDP), Richard Lee (LPC), and Jay Shin (CPC).

What seemed to linger on everybody's minds was the issue of immigration. Some of the loudest and most visceral responses from the crowd were evoked when the topic came up.

The third Burnaby South debate hosted by the Ismaili Centre Burnaby,  saw the NDP-PPC feud continue since it was sparked during the first debate in early February.

Crowd member calls PPC candidate "racist" for wanting to reduce immigration

"49% of Canadians actually want reduced immigration." said Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson. "I think that we represent the mainstream view, it is the liberals and the NDP who are extreme in this regard."

"It really offends me to the core of my being when Mr. Jagmeet Singh, says that you're a racist when you simply want a safe Canada. Right here in Burnaby South a young girl named Marrisa Shen was murdered in Central Park by a Syrian refugee. This demands that we be careful in vetting the refugees that come to our land."

Ibrahim Ali has been charged with the murder of the 13-year old Burnaby local Marrisa Shen. He is currently facing a trial for these crimes.

Immediately the crowd burst out into a mix of cheers and anger.

"Racist!" shouted one audience member.

"Shame!" yelled several others among sinckers. "That is racist!" yelled one man.

Eventually the moderator, Jason D'Souza was able to skillfully guide the conversation towards a fruitful direction probing the candidates on how much of the election should be driven by inciting emotional reactions from constituents.

Jagmeet Singh gets heckled for saying he lives in Burnaby South

At one point, the moderator asked why each candidate has decided to run in this election.

"My wife and I live in Burnaby South," said Jagmeet Singh, followed by a loud eruption from the audience.

"No you don't!" shouted a member from the crowd. "I don't think so!"

"Liar! You don't live here!"

"Go back to Richmond," yelled one audience member towards the Chinese PPC supporter. Richmond is known for being a predominantly Asian city in British Columbia.

Although originally from Ontario, Jagmeet Singh and his wife have been renting an apartment in Burnaby South since November.

"I'm going to answer the question. I live here in Burnaby South with my wife," said Jagmeet Singh. "The people in this community are facing a housing crisis, and good words, and saying they have to deal with it on their own is not going to help those people out."

Burnaby South goes to the ballot

Although the issue of housing took a back seat during the debate, it will surely be one that presses on voters' minds when they go to cast their vote on February 25th.

Three of the candidates will be appearing on Breakfast Television Vancouver on Thursday, February 21st. Of the candidates registered for the election only Jagmeet Singh (NDP), Jay Shin (CPC) and Richard Lee (LPC) have been invited onto the program.


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