About 1,000 people filled Citadel High School’s Spatz Theatre on Sunday afternoon to hear the eight federal NDP leadership hopefuls agree on most things.

But there were some disagreements.

The candidates for the party’s leadership —Thomas Mulcair, Romeo Saganash, Martin Singh, Nathan Cullen, Niki Ashton, Peggy Nash, Brian Topp, and Paul Dewar — were in Halifax to discuss their ideas on how to make life more affordable for Canadians.

The tone was a touch more combative than the previous leadership debate held in Toronto in December. Several candidates, including Mulcair and Nash, took aim at Cullen’s suggestion to hold joint nomination meetings with Liberals and Greens in Conservative-held ridings.


“I want you to tell us concretely how you would expect NDPers in a Toronto-area riding where a Liberal held sway for years that’s just gone Conservative ... are you really expecting the NDPers, who got 28 per cent in the last election, to rally behind a Liberal,” Mulcair asked.

Replied Cullen: “In Conservative held seats ... I would allow the local New Democrats to make a decision as to whether it’s to our advantage and to the country’s to hold joint nomination meetings between us and other parties."

Mulcair received a pointed question of his own from Dewar, who asked him to clarify his position on the bulk export of fresh water.

“C’mon Paul, I’ve always fought for the protection of our fresh water resources. The means of achieving that result can vary,” Mulcair said.

“You can debate things like whether it should be a restriction on the size of the container without being in favour of bulk exports.”

The next leadership debate will take place on Feb. 12 in Quebec City.

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