The candidates main differences centred on taxation but they agreed on the importance of examining the provinces finances during the debate at the Niverville Heritage Centre in front of about 50 voters.
Martin, who became the ridings MLA in a 2014 by-election, reiterated his partys pledge an elected Progressive Conservative government would roll back the PST by one percent within their first term.
Falk replied the Liberals would keep the PST at 8 percent but give all of the revenue raised to municipalities to spend as they wish.
Why should we as the province tell municipalities what to do? asked Falk, who after crunching the numbers following the debate estimated Niverville, which is approaching 5,000 citizens, would receive more than $1 million in revenue per year.
On the payroll tax, Falk described it as a ludicrous levy the Liberals would repeal after balancing the budget. Martin agreed with Falk that the tax should not exist but said a Progressive Conservative government sees rolling back the PST as its first taxation priority.
The candidates agreed it will be a balancing act to slay the provinces deficit and focus on infrastructure priorities.
Im not going to underestimate the challenges that are ahead, but a balanced budget is something we have to move towards, said Martin.
Falk concurred. Were not going to increase taxes, so its not going to happen overnight, he said of cutting the deficit.
The Morris constituency is seen as a Tory stronghold, with Martin earning the support of nearly seven out of 10 voters in the by-election, but the inclusion of former Niverville councillor John Falk has dramatized the race. Falk is well-known in rapidly growing Niverville, serving as a town councillor for seven years until he stepped down to seek the provincial nod.
Health care was also touched on in the debate, with Martin explaining of the 25 beds at Morris hospital, 17 are occupied by individuals waiting for personal care beds. His party has pledged to build 1,200 beds over eight years.
Martin said this would be one step toward improving health care, but dont let any politician tell you it will be a quick fix, it wont, he said.
Falk advocated for the child care deficiency in places like Niverville, saying the Liberals would ensure more child care spaces are built.
When asked what their priorities would be if elected MLA, Falk said he would conduct roundtable discussions with as many interested communities and organizations he could drum up to ensure he would make the right decisions.
Martin said he and a PC government would meet the provinces challenges head-on.
Weve had 17 and a half years of mediocrity, 17 and a half years of believing that the only solution to anything is simply throwing more money at it, he said.
The debate was hosted by the Niverville Chamber of Commerce.