The race for the federal NDP leadership made its way to Victoria tonight with a debate between three of the four candidates hoping to replace Tom Mulcair.

Victoria MP Murray Rankin welcomed hundreds of people who filed into the Victoria Conference Centre to take in the leadership debate.

Charles Angus could not attend due to a family matter, but Jagmeet Singh from Ontario, Niki Ashton of Manitoba and Guy Caron of Quebec squared off to give their points of views on a number topics.

Among the items discussed is how the federal government should address the opioid crisis.

“When we’re thinking of this type of crisis, we’re thinking of trying to regulate through law and order. It doesn’t work,” Caron said.

“What we need to ensure is to accompany those situation in the streets and unfortunately we are showing too little compassion.”

“We need to focus on harm reduction. Right now, the approach to this crisis is criminal, to criminalize,” Singh said.

“This is a health concern, not a criminal justice issue.”

“Our campaign has called for national health emergency to be called for,” Ashton said.

“Our campaign has also called for investment in harm reduction and support for harm reduction approaches when it comes to dealing with the opioid crisis.”

Tonight is the sixth debate between the candidates, who will square off again in Montreal August 27.

A new leader will be chosen no later than October 31.

Andy Neal