All-Candidate Forums Highlight Issues

Prince George, BC, Canada / CKPG News
All-Candidate Forums Highlight Issues

The questions focused common themes; economic development, First Nations, education, health care and resource development. The first question was directed at Natalie Fletcher of the NDP and revolved around ensuring access to health care, her field of profession. She stuck to the NDP’s platform around the model of urgent care centres, but area she felt most successful was around education, specifically K-12.
“Well I think the education,” she said after the forum. “I think it’s important for people to realize, when we talk about what’s really happening in BC in the last 16 years for our K – 12. I mean I could go one, and on, and on with story after story. I mean, parents have fund-raised over $40 million dollars.”
She and Liberal candidate Shirley Bond also questioned the BC Greens about its plans for a carbon tax, with Bond saying BC has the only carbon tax in Canada, adding an increase to that tax would have severe consequences to Northern BC. But Green candidate Nan Kendy stuck to the Green script, especially when it comes to the party’s emphasis on a new economy.
“We really need to look at global warming and fossil fuel emissions,” she stated, post-forum. “And we need to stop those emissions and look to the future for the new economy and open up education so that we can provide the training necessary for educating and training new entrepreneurs in the new economy.”
Not surprising, the state of BC’s economy was a hot topic, with the Fletcher pointing out how the BC economy may be strong in the South, but certainly not in the North. But Liberal candidate says all of the services offered to British Columbians rely on a healthy and diverse economy.
“It think our commitment is to growing the economy and making sure that we do that while we’re creating well-paying family-supporting jobs,” says told CKPG after the debate. “And we’ve laid out all the facts regarding how we’re going to pay for that. I think missing tonight was the answer to who’s going to pay for all those promises that other parties have made. From my perspective, there’s only one way that’s going to happen and that’s by raising taxes or cutting programs and services.”
One of the most controversial issues in both forums was that of Site C. There was debate around the need for it, the cost of it, with the Liberal Party focused on the clean and renewable energy it will produce, as well as the 2,100 jobs it generates today. The NDP stated that, if elected, it would send the project back to the BC Utilities Commission, to which the Liberals asked if they intend to hand out “2,100 pink slips.” But the Greens outrightly stated they would scrap the project.
“It’s really controversial,” said Hilary Crowley, Green candidate in Prince George-Mackenzie. “I mean, up in the Peace River, the local farmers and the First Nations are so strongly against it. We need all the agricultural land we can have for local food production. At the moment, we’re relying on food  being transported up from the States.”
Whether it was dealing First Nations or the status of health care or University Hospital of Northern BC to small business, NDP candidate for Prince George-Mackenzie, Bobby Deepak never passed up an opportunity to point out what the NDP see as the failings of the BC Liberals and Christy Clark, in particular.
“Whether it be affordability, whether it be public services or whether it be jobs, I think the BC Liberals and Christy Clark are lacking,” said  Deepak. “They’ve neglected the North, they’ve neglected forestry. We’ve lost six mines under Christy Clark, or were suspended. We’re looking at a huge increase in raw log exports. We’re not seeing jobs in our region.”
He repeated more than once that the job growth so proudly touted by the BC Liberals are those in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.
When it comes to the economy, Liberal candidate Mike Morris noted BC has one of the most diverse economies in Canada and there is a balance between the two.
“I firmly believe that we can get that balance right with our resource development and biodiversity so that we can maintain wildlife populations and the flora and fauna that we have.”
At the conclusion of each debate, all six local candidates noted the importance of heading to the polls, advanced or general, in this election.

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