The Telegraph Interviews the Candidates, Part 2

Rossland Telegraph
By Rossland Telegraph
May 7th, 2009

Note: this article is a continuation of the lead story this week. We’ve split the interviews into two parts for ease or readability. Each Telegraph question is followed by replies from all four candidates, although the interviews were conducted separately.

TELEGRAPH: Describe to us what this riding looks like four to ten years down the road if your party is elected?

MOREL: In four years it would look similar but different. I think looking at business and industry, we have to obviously become community-based, regionally-based. We have to look at the 100 mile diet, not just in food but in our economy as well. That has started a trend beyond just the idea of growing our own food although that is also part of our policy. We recognize it’s important to stop bringing red peppers from Guatemala and that we need to start producing our own food and we’d be looking at a little more basic diet and less exotic diet. There are going to be green jobs there will be green education; there is going to be more collaborative efforts between the various levels of government: that is critical. I believe the power should be given back to regional and municipal governments and there has been an effort to try and usurp that by the national and the federal governments. But, again, the process has to be collaborative; we have to work together on it. When I talk about party politics the big problem that comes up for me is why we are so combative. Were not working in everyone’s best interest and we’re wasting so much energy in just trying to get our point across instead of working together on a collaborative approach that satisfies so much more than just individuals.

BINNIE: The whole idea of the BC Liberals is planning for the future, planning for our children and our grandchildren and we want to make sure that this province is moving in the direction that we`ve set forward for the last eight years. You know, we want to see the best in health care, we want to see the best in education, we want people in our province to stay in our province. We want to create jobs and continue moving on building a strong economy. We want to build confidence in the people of British Columbia and with that confidence will come investment in our community. People coming into British Columbia through the opening of the gateways. Investing in other countries and having them come here and see what we have to offer. British Columbia is a fantastic place. I`m so proud to be in British Columbia and I know in this riding here that we have a lot of work to do to make sure that rural BC is taken care of and I want to make it my mandate to make sure that rural British Columbia is recognized and that we build on the strengths that we provide to the rest of the province. We take the resource communities like ourselves and let the rest of the province know how important we are. Boy, I`ll tell you: there is no place like home and this is where I`ve lived for over 30 years and this is where I`m going to live for the rest of my life and I`m going to make sure that this riding is top shelf.

CONROY: Well, it will be a region that would have health care that would benefit the people of the region so that we would have a regional hospital that is properly funded that wouldn’t be–as quite often it is now–120 – 130 % over capacity. We would have appropriate housing for seniors, housing for young people. We need to work with the companies in the area and small medium and large businesses to make sure that we have family-supporting jobs. We would look at post secondary education and put a freeze on tuitions. Funding for university s or Selkirk College so you wouldn’t have to worry about struggling to operate and young people could get their post secondary education and not have to worry about carrying a $50,000 deficit to pay off before they even begin to think about a house or anything like that.

We’ll have more apprenticeship opportunities. We’re going to start 4,000 new apprenticeship seats into the province and that will benefit people here with those programs that need to be reinstated so that people will get the full red seal apprenticeships that they need to go out and find opportunities. We’ll give the employers the tax credits that they need to hire these apprentices. One of our big platform issues is putting into place a BC bond so that people could actually invest in BC and it would be a green bond. Once you invest in the bond, it will be utilized to retro-fit your home to get a low cost loan so that people in this area can be part of becoming carbon neutral by putting new windows in their homes getting energy efficient furnaces perhaps more energy efficient cars. Getting a better transit system in place, but also looking at jobs for people by retrofitting government buildings to make them more energy efficient.

We will be eliminating the carbon tax because we believe that it is punitive; it doesn’t benefit the people of this region because we don’t have a lot of transit here. We need to heat our homes in the winter; we don’t have skytrains. We need to look at making sure that we have climate change programs that work for the region and not penalize the people that live here but actually supportive programs to make sure that we have a green, sustainable economy.

CRISPIN: We get rid of tuition fees. The mills are reopened as government-run union mills. One idea I have is that if we were elected and formed a government, we would allow every worker everywhere to have a union vote so there would be no issue with having people sign cards or having corporations fire them for unionizing.

TELEGRAPH: People are voting less and less all over the world. Why do you think its happening and why should people vote?

MOREL: Why it’s happening? I think its apathy. I think it is also a manipulation and control of our intellect to some extent. I think industry and the capitalization of our psychology has somehow dumbed us down and made us think that we can be happy in our little lifetime job working for the corporate entity earning the dollars that you know put the roof over our head and allow our kids to go to school and I just think that you know as long as we have our toys that we can be god little happy boys.

It seems to me that a percentage of the population is caught up as well in politics as usual and partisanship and I see the older population being much more engaged in politics. Whether they are more aware I’m not so sure. I think it’s what they grew up with–their parents were engaged. But I see this whole generation of youth that generally they have their toys and they’re not interested.

I truly believe that disillustionment is part of it as well. If it’s not affecting you, ‘oh well it doesn’t matter who I vote for; I’ll just get the same old stuff and there is no reason to get off of my ass. I’ve got my 8 hours of TV watching a day and zoning out’.

BINNIE: Well, I mean it’s a right for people to vote in this country and I think it’s extremely important that people use that right and get out to choose their leaders who use their tax dollars to make a difference in the province of BC. I’m an avid voter; I don’t miss an election I don’t care how many there are: I believe it’s my right to voice my opinion by way of vote. In order to encourage people to get out and vote more, I’m not sure how we are go into do that. I think we need to get the youth involved. I think the youth need to carry us into the future with who they elect and how they see our world being governed and I think it is really important that we start getting educated on that, the right to vote.

I mean, there are people all over the world who don’t get the opportunity to vote like we do and I don’t understand why people don’t get out to vote. It is extremely important. I don’t buy the old give yourself a chance to complain if you vote. People still have the chance to complain if they vote or not but at least you can say you had a say by making that X on the ballot. You can stand behind the people that you choose and you can actually have input to those people. Not that you can’t without that act but you’re part of the system and without people voting we won’t have a system that is fair, as far as I’m concerned.

I’m a big advocate of getting kids out to vote. I have two daughters who vote regularly and maybe it’s because their mother has been involved in politics. You can’t lead a horse to water, but I tell you if I could I would take everyone by the arm in one long big line to come on out and vote. We’ve had so many elections, so many elections it doesn’t take but 20 minutes to come and vote. Especially when you look at all of the candidates and all of the people that are running on all levels in all the areas it is so important that they have taken the time to go out and show you who they are. We should take that 20 minutes to go out and vote.

CONROY: [Did not answer]

CRISPIN: I think the whole ‘I don’t care’ attitude is really perpetuated by corporate education. Corporations are trying to teach people not to vote. In the movies that are produced and the media, we’re taught that voting doesn’t do any good, that it doesn’t make a difference. It’s really sad. People used to be taught that voting and democracy were good in schools. Democracy is what we should be defending, but they don’t tell you what democracy is in schools. They ask young people to go and serve and give their lives for democracy, but if you asked them what democracy was, very few could tell you. If we educate people, they will make the right decision; they’re not going to vote to continue rule by corporations and they’re not going to vote for the continued commercialization of schools. They’re going to vote for no tuition fees and they will continue to have progressive ideas in other areas of life.

TELEGRAPH: We so often here the different parties just yelling over each other and no one really saying much of anything except don’t vote for the other party. We keep telling people not to vote for parties and people seem to be listening and not voting. Without being negative what one or two positive reasons SHOULD we vote for you?

BINNIE: I think that you should vote for the BC Liberals because over the last eight years they have worked hard to get us out of a deficit, they have worked hard to put forward good solid foundations and a good strategy to build BC’s economy to being the top economy in all of the provinces in Canada. They set that foundation in such a good place that even though there is a global recession happening and the global economy is hurting, we stand a great chance of coming out of this more on top than any other area. It’s not only because of the leader but the team, of candidates that have been working on behalf of the residents of the constituencies across British Columbia. That kind of a solid foundation, constantly moving forward and progressing is I believe the strongest part of the leadership of the team. The whole group working hard together on behalf of British Columbians.

CONROY: We are actually thinking about the future and we are thinking about the region and we are looking at people in the local area and we want to work with people here in the local communities and come up with solutions that are critical to everyone in the area. I have lived in the area all of my life, we have four kids. We’ve raised them here. Five grand kids are being raised here. This is our home and I want my grandkids to ensure that they can stay here and grow up here and live here.

We are trying to engage in and trying to ensure that we are actually having debates that aren’t just talking over each other but we are the opposition so when you are in the opposition you have to oppose but at the same time we are proposing and showing people what our government would do and we are showing opportunities for people to engage with us and showing our ideas and the things that we would support.

CRISPIN: [Did not answer]

MOREL: Quite often people vote out of fear, fear of getting someone in there they don’t want and it always seems to be a lesser of two or three evils. I would hope that people would start realizing they want to vote for the future and for me–to make a decision to become a Green and then to make a decision to become a leader in the Green party and the Green movement. The reason I’ve done it is because I think partisan politics has kept us stuck in this one two three four year cycle and it’s all just about power. There is no foresight, there is no planning for the future, there is no thinking for anything beyond the next election and I am just tired of that. So I would think my motivation is to think about the future; we’ve got to think far beyond the next election.


TELEGRAPH: Politicians are often in the habit of sticking to sloganeering or sticking to the party line. What are some of the real issues in your mind in this region that the party line doesn’t take into account?

CONROY: That’s interesting because one of our platforms of our campaign is take back your BC and I really feel that that resonates here. That’s how I feel personally. I’m mad that Gordon Campbell is giving away our province and he is giving away our resources and rivers and streams. I want my grandkids to be able to go fishing in the creeks and streams in our area and I don’t want them given away to corporations. The first thing they’ll do is put up a fence at the bottom of the road and you can’t’ go up those hiking trails anymore because it belongs to them now; it’s not our land anymore. That resonates with me personally and resonates with the people I’ve talked to in the region. The other thing is the health care system, our social services in the region. We’re losing out and it can’t continue to happen. We shouldn’t be penalized for living in rural BC we should be allowed to live here and get the quality of life that people want and need. If we want to go to school and have kids here we should be able to get good quality affordable child care. We should be able to get a good affordable education here. We need more early childhood education and we need good funding for K to 12 and we need to make sure that those are in place.


TELEGRAPH: A major issue in Rossland is keeping our schools open and keeping K to 12 education in Rossland. Any thoughts on how to protect small schools in small communities?

CONROY: Community schools are really important and I think one of the problems is inadequate funding. The government now penalizes small school districts and what we have to do is look at reassessing how the funding is done to make sure that you’re not penalized for being in a rural area. Let’s work with the communities to see what works for them. We have to take into account the declining enrolment issue and come up with a new funding method so that small communities that tie small communities together are not lost.

CRISPIN: We think that the real issue is capitalism and its inherent contradictions. When you educate the people and liberate the people, they realize that the capitalist system is just taxing them to take their money away. Once they are educated to the point that they are no longer fooled by corporations, reactionaries will disappear.

To me education’s really important and I would like the provincial government to abolish all tuition. Education, health care, and jobs are my three big issues. More access to education, health care clinics in every town,. The Federal government has the power to give money to the provinces as block money for tuition and had we not been in Afghanistan, we could have abolished all tuition fees and paid off all student debt by now. They’re almost the same price—Afghanistan and tuition fees/student debt. The money is here for a lot of these things if we stop supporting things like the Olympics.

MOREL: I’ve hoping and praying that the single transferable vote goes through. I think it allows us to bring in people who are truly thinkers who can get involved in government and policy development; it gets rid of special interest groups, it creates centrist systems and ideas that can come to gather and collaboration and cooperation. I would think that my efforts in a government sense would support anything that is going on in the Kootenays; the Kootenays is just a microcosm of everything else that is going on in the province and the country. I would hope that anything that I do would reflect positively on the communities right here from our own small community of Rossland to the rest of the small communities in the Kootenays and then to the province as well.

A green MLA is going to be a catalyst. One of the reasons that I was a bit frustrated with a media question in Nelson in the federal election was when I suggested more of less that I wished to be a catalyst for change, out came the opinion of the editor that Andy won’t serve the community because he’s going to be seen as a new guy on the block and his ideas and aspirations are bigger. I think that is totally wrong. I don’t think I will lose my regional perspective. Because in concentrating regionally I know what value that has provincially and nationally and beyond. I have a perspective in how I fit not only in Rossland but basically in the universe so everything that we do creates a ripple effect and I truly believe that I wish to be a part of that.

BINNIE: Well there are a whole bunch of things we need to do locally and in the riding. I have been to all of the all candidates’ forums and being new at this and not having been in government like my opponent for the last four years, I have clearly heard that there are issues we need to deal with on long term care beds and we need to deal with the issue of how to develop or look at the funding formula for schools although monies have been spent in both areas in the rural areas. There seems to be a situation where possibly the funding formulas are not working. So those things we need to sit down with the people.

I don’t want to just get elected and never be seen again. One of my firm beliefs is that if you are doing a job for the people, you had better be seen by the people and work with the people. You had better be seen in your community and not just a quick visit and then head back to your office or to Victoria. You need to get on the ground in your community. This election started and I started late on March the 20th so I didn’t have a lot of run up to it, but I have travelled as much as possible throughout the riding. I have met with some of the most unbelievable people. I worked for 22 years in the school district system, so I know the schools inside and out as a staff worker custodian and staff worker so I know the education system very well. Being a councillor here for 14 years in city council and being on the Union of BC Municipalities I have got a very good overview of the local government and local issues, community issues. I know that there is always lots to do, there is always lots of things that need to be fixed and we’re going to take them one by one, sit down and listen to what the people have to say and do our very best to carry forth the issues and concerns that they have here in the riding.

TELEGRAPH: Thinking of BC Hydro for one, do you favor privatizing BC’s assets and crown corporations or not and how does that play into your future BC? What about independent power projects?

CRISPIN: We call for an immediate inquiry into the whole BC Rail issue and believe that everything that has been broken down like BC Hydro, and all the privatization, should be reversed. As well, municipalities used to have the power to reject independent power projects in their areas and the provincial government took that power away. We believe in putting that power back into the hands of the municipalities. As for PP projects, public-private partnerships, those are just capitalism trying to sneak its way into public projects.

MOREL: Well, not surprisingly, I’ll say I’m not happy about it. I don’t know where to start on that one. I’ll say first off manufacturing more power at the expense of the environment is wrong. The greenest power we could produce is conservation. We use more power in British Columbia per capita than any other province in the country. We are one of the most wasteful nations on earth. In Europe, which is consider to be civilized and Western Europe especially, they use up to two thirds less per capita than we use. What is that about? They have civilized societies; they have heated homes; they have good food; they have health care and education systems. There is something wrong. Selling our power south of the border and using it as an excuse that we have this natural resource we can ride to better the planet to better our economies is a travesty and MR. Campbell is professing that we need more power to grow and I and the green party say no. When it comes to private power produces and the damming of small streams and rivers that’s just not good in my eye.

BINNIE: I can speak to that. There has been a huge amount of misinformation out in regards to independent power production. I mean, it is the greenest form of energy. We`re not privatizing or selling off our rivers. The information that has been put out there has been not fair to the public. A lot of fear mongering causes a stir.

We have put limits on IPP of 40 years. Once those leases are up, it reverts back to the Crown. We are not selling our rivers down the road. By 2016 we want to have green energy in the province of British Columbia. The Climate Action Plan is being well received by some of the top climatologists in Canada, and you know people like Andrew Weaver who is a Nobel Prize winner on science has said we are moving in the right direction .We have to all start moving in the right direction and somebody had to set the direction. I believe that the direction the Liberals have put forward is a great starting point. Everything from our independent power production to the carbon tax. People have to wake up and start taking care of our planet or we`re not going to have one. Someone has to make a move, and we have and it`s a good move.

When you ask people in Nakusp, talking to a local person with a business there, he`s got 41 jobs right now working on three independent power plants that are way up in the middle of nowhere and are hardly accessible to people, but he`s employing 41 and he`s sitting on his thumbs right now waiting to see if a moratorium is going to be put on independent power production which was started by the NDP years ago as to whether or not these people have a job. At full capacity they will be running 100 jobs. If there is a moratorium those 100 jobs will be gone in Nakusp. Goodbye. Gone. These people actually worked in the forest industry which has been hit by the economy terribly so they had to diversify so they diversified into building the IPP plants that they are working on.

It`s a shame that so many people would lose their jobs by a moratorium on IPP development when in fact the NDP started independent power production. When they started it they had 17 independent power plants that do not have any leases at all on them and they don`t revert back to the Crown. Well, ours do. We have unbelievable environmental standards for these independent power productions and there are not that many that are being built or have even been approved. According the gentleman that I talked to, he has never seen so many environmental protections on any project he`s ever worked on and he commends the government on their environmental standards. They have to follow such strict guidelines for the environmental standards that are so important to the production of these power plants and people are being misinformed.

It`s a shame that, you know, Rafe Mair is being paid by the NDP to go around and lobby in regards to this. I think people need to know that there are 290,000 rivers in British Columbia and.03% of them have independent power projects on them. It`s a slow moving process but it does produce clean energy and it is a step in the right direction.

CONROY: We don’t believe in privatizing crown corporations. We fought on the privatization of BC Rail. Campbell said he wouldn’t and he did. He said he he’s not going to privatize BC Hydro: he’s already privatized half of it. He’s sold off the transmission lines, he’s sold off the building section of it. Those are worries for us. The IPPs are a huge worry. We want to bring in a moratorium on any future licenses or any future development of IPPs because right now there are over 700 licenses that have been applied for. Some have been granted and some are in the process of being built. We believe that the IPPs don’t bring back the benefits to the regions and the province that they should. The environmental controls are suspect.

The IPPs can produce less than 49 mega watts of power and they don’t have to go through environmental assessment and that is appalling. The degradation of our pristine environment and ecosystems that are being destroyed by some of these projects and it will be destroyed never to get back. If it is a legitimate place to create power, why wouldn’t the people own it? Why wouldn’t it be done by BC Hydro? What the government has done is neuter BC Hydro. They are not allowed to do any more construction any more building. They did all of the research in the 90s of where power projects would work and all of the people that worked with BC Hydro they looked around the province and said, ‘where can we build power projects that would be environmentally friendly, sustainable and long term and also give back to the community?’ The power should be owned by the people. A lot of those people were laid off by the BC government and they are now working for the corporations so they have taken their knowledge with them and are turning profits back to the corporation and the people lose out on that.

The other thing is that they’ve made BC Hydro do is buy the power guaranteed when it is very expensive; It’s like 89 cents cents a kilowatt hour. A lot of these power corporations work during the freshette in spring when the water is really high and we don’t need power then. Power is cheap then. Then you get hit with this high exorbitant rate BC Hydro buys the power from them when it can only be sold for a really low rate. Their mantra is buy high, sell low. For me that is not a government with a good economic philosophy.

BC Hydro is now on the hook for 30 million dollars worth of contracts that won’t do us any good and won’t benefit the people while padding the corporations’ pockets–not yours and mine. One of the best IPPs in the region is the Columbia Basin Trust’s. It is a project that retrofits the dams. The benefits from the dams come back to the communities and back into the region. Do you know the Liberal government tried to make them sell the dams and invest the money in the stock market? Can you imagine if they had done that? Thank God the community and the region stood up and said, ‘no, we’re not going to let you do that’. Nobody said, ‘oh yeah, good idea! Let’s sell the dams and invest in the stock market!’ There would be nothing left what would we get back from that? When you look at the Glacier/ Howser project, I mean the destruction that will happen if that is allowed to go ahead and the potential that after a few years it might not work if there is not enough water to generate the power they need–what happens if the company walks away from it and we are left with the mess?

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