Editorial: Impressions from the All Candidates Forum
Three candidates answered questions at the All Candidates Forum in Trail, with an audience of about 50 people. Katrine Conroy of the New Democratic Party (NDP) seeks re-election as our MLA; Jim Postnikoff for the Liberal Party wants to represent us in Victoria; and Samantha Troy of the Green Party wants to increase the number of Green MLAs in office.
What were the essential differences in their approaches to issues? Here are my impressions.
With regard to senior care, support for the mentally ill who are currently being discharged into communities with no support and limited or no ability to become employed, child care, homelessness and those so poor that they must patronize food banks:
The NDP intends to improve care facilities and increase the levels of support available; to increase levels of staffing in care facilities; to ensure affordable child care; to increase affordable housing, welfare payments and disability rates and the minimum wage; and to reverse the “disability bus pass clawback.” Conroy declared that the NDP has an entire poverty reduction strategy. Asked where the money would come from, Conroy acknowledged that the NDP would increase income taxes — “but not for anyone in this room, unless you’re a multi-millionaire. If you’re a multi-millionaire, well, I’m sorry but we’re going to increase your taxes.”
The Liberal Party seems more inclined to rely on new jobs to fix all the ills of society, including child poverty, and to get those jobs from such projects as completing the Site C dam, increasing fracking and shale gas extraction operations, building pipelines, keeping forestry companies busy harvesting, and attracting new industries to the province — partly by keeping taxes low. Postnikoff said that a Liberal government would focus on a strong economy, and would build needed facilities “as the economy improves and the money flows in.”
The Green Party wants adequate levels of care and income, and also want to ensure that the government is pro-active in promoting preventive measures such as healthy and active lifestyles, and making all levels of education more accessible. Troy pointed out that the economic payback for dollars invested in early childhood care and education is huge.
As for new jobs, both the Greens and the NDP want to create new jobs by developing clean alternative energy sources. Conroy mentioned that geothermal energy deserves consideration. Both parties are also keen on value-added industries — getting more jobs from each cubic metre of wood cut in the province, for example, rather than continuing large-scale raw-log exports. Troy used the term “emerging economy” and wants a task force to help the province take full advantage of new opportunities.
Which party’s policies do you think will benefit the people of BC the most? Which candidate will get your vote? Which party will govern BC next? — the suspense is building.