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MALTATODAY 13 March 2022

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2 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 13 MARCH 2022 ELECTION 2022 Nicole Meilak's election week Working through University PARTY leaders went head- to-head for the first time during the election cam- paign for a grilling on the environment, sexual health, and housing. For the most part, the third-party lead- ers remained level-headed in their contributions, al- though ABBA leader Ivan Grech Mintoff didn't shy away from having a go at Prime Minister Robert Abela every so often. Ber- nard Grech was very much ready for attack, often jeer- ing against Abela despite deafening chants of "Viva l-Labour" from the crowd. The debate certainly set the tone for all other debates until election day. The two will spare no punches throughout the campaign. Battle of the manifestos THROUGHOUT the week, the Nationalist Party's line of attack was to hit out at Labour for publishing their manifesto late. On the flip- side, the Labour Party's line of defence was to poke holes in theirs and lay bare all the errors and typos in the PN's manifesto. Miriam Dalli and Rebecca Buttigieg were first to ac- cuse the Nationalist Party of changing their manifesto multiple times since it was first uploaded to the party's website. One fatal example was the PN's proposal to set up a Malta Enterprise office in Gozo. Unlucky for them, Gozo already has a Malta Enterprise office. The Nationalist Party re- sponded by amending their manifesto to say that the state entity's presence will be strengthened on the sis- ter island. Strategically, the Labour Party is on better footing on this issue, so long as their own manifesto isn't riddled with any mistakes. They regularly came out with new and costed pro- posals, despite not having a printed manifesto in hand, and to date there have been little to no technical flaws in what they're proposing. Meanwhile, every mistake found in the PN's manifes- to may have been a blow to their credibility. These in- clude the Malta Enterprise mistake, the pre-1995 rent reform error, and miscom- munication on whether the tax refund cheques will be stopped under the PN. Third-party watch ADPD was among the more active parties this week. Apart from taking part in the University De- bate, the party was quite vocal on the issue of energy dependence. ADPD Chair- person Carmel Cacopardo said this is a crucial issue given that Malta relies on Azerbaijan for Gas, Sicily for the interconnector, and has a power station in the hands of the Chinese. This issue is made even more crucial given the pre- carious situation in Russia, with whom Azerbaijan en- joys close ties. Among the independ- ents, Arnold Cassola con- tinued to mount pressure on Infrastructure Malta by claiming that it plans to build a new road that connects the St Paul's Bay roundabout outside Bur- marrad to an area of fields behind the Kiabi complex. However, Infrastructure Malta immediately rub- bished the claims and said it never had any intentions on building such a road. Where's Mario? CLYDE Caruana is a La- bour Party candidate by choice, but an economist by nature. He had a couple of debates with PN candi- dates on the parties' eco- nomic proposals, but he was debating a different person each time, as op- posed to Mario de Marco, the party's spokesperson on economic and financial issues. At a press conference on Friday, Caruana half-joked that he doesn't know who would be appointed Fi- nance Minister if the Na- tionalist Party were to be elected into government. On paper, De Marco is the PN spokesperson, but younger and newer candi- dates are being pushed for- ward to debate Caruana on matters of the economy. This is not a bad thing in and of itself – the candi- dates that have since de- bated Caruana hail from economic careers. Graham Bencini is an accountant, and Caruana Cilia is also well-versed on economy and finance. But the party needs to be clearer as to who is in command in this area. What's happening today THE Labour Party will have their Team Malta ral- ly in Floriana at 3pm. The Nationalist Party has their own rally at the Kordin Pa- villion at 3:30pm. Send us your alerts on or WhatsApp 79006845 MATTHEW VELLA LABOUR stalwart Joe Debono Grech summed up Malta's apathetic response to corrup- tion in a speech to the Labour faithful that typically excori- ated Nationalist partisans and glorified Labour's leaders. In a rally held for Gozo minister Clint Camilleri, the former minister Debono Grech kept his audience en- tertained with snippets of Labour history and blind ad- ulation for the Abela admin- istration's work during the pandemic. But in a brief reference to Malta's problem with cor- ruption, Debono Grech ea- gerly swept the issue under the carpet for his Labour au- dience. "One person once came up to me, telling me 'politicians are all corrupt – both sides'. And I told him, 'you're right, but look here: in the times of the Nationalists' corruption we got nothing, but at least we got something from our corruption'," he said to rau- cous applause. "Another told me, 'you're all thieves'. And I said: 'Christ had two thieves... we're with the good thief." Debono Grech gave his Gozitan audience a slice of history on Labour's activism in Gozo, recounting that La- bour minister Clint Camill- eri's grandfather Anglu 'il-Bedeq' had been solicited with a bribe to switch over to the Nationalist Party. According to the US em- bassy cables from 1973, this episode was recounted to the American ambassador to Malta by Nationalist MP Mario Felice, who said the bribe had been "very nearly successful" but that the po- lice uncovered plot "and that two Gozitans tried to stop Mintoff from making case public, but Mintoff insisted. Felice says that businessman Roger Camilleri is long-time Labour supporter who gave £10,000 or £12,000 to MLP for last political campaign." "They're quite the champi- ons for democracy," Debono Grech told the Labour ral- ly, taking to task the PN's historic ties to the Maltese Catholic Church. "I don't care about those complaining about wanting a 'serious' opposition... I care about having a strong party of our own. My job today is like Guza's," Debono Grech said of Gozo's well known delegate Guza Cassar. "We ask ministers to help out people... not by corruption, but for what's theirs by right." Labour's corruption is better than the PN's... 'At least we got something from Labour's corruption': Joe Debono Grech

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