How would your party help with job losses in the forest sector as well as help new sectors grow ?

That was one of the questions that the federal election candidates in the Cariboo-Prince George riding were given at an all-candidates forum at the college in Quesnel on Wednesday night.

A couple of the suggestions revolved around getting a new U-S softwood lumber agreement.

Todd Doherty is the incumbent representing the Conservative Party…

“We do not have a softwood lumber agreement which is amplifying the fact, the cost of doing business, whether it’s the 23 percent tariffs that are unfairly being levied against our producers, it is more and more expensive to actually access the fibre, they’re having to go further and further away and then we have provincial stumpage system that we have to find a way yo work with our provincial government to fix that regime.”

Peoples Party of Canada candidate Jing Lan Yang had a bit of different twist on that idea…

“Our party platform, firstly, we will support our own industry. First of all our People’s Party government will relaunch negotiations for softwood lumber agreement. And we are the party who are willing to put supply management on the table, to negotiate with Trump or anyone in the White House because, this will be like a win-win situation. First we will be able to get the export opportunity and also we will be able to have more affordable dairy products and poultry. And we will also be able for our farmers, to be able to export their products back to United States, because everyone knows our product is a higher quality.”

Green party candidate Mackenzie Kerr suggested that the government support more small scale operations…

“Making sure that small scale forestry companies that want to do things like horse logging or selective logging can thrive and they’re not eaten up by the big guys right away. And last but not least we need to be adding more value per hectare to our forests. We need to be talking about things like instead of milling two inch boards, maybe one inch boards. And using all of the log, using it for things like biofuels, and really thinking outside the box, because there is potential and the technology is here.”

Liberal candidate Tracy Collegeros says there were lessons that should have been learned from the wildfires of 2018…

“What that drove home for me was the need for not just fire suppression but better forest management. I’ve been participating in the forest round tables that the province has been putting on because it is a provincial jurisdictional area and there are a lot of really cool and create and innovative ideas going on in our communities as they stand right now. When you talk to your Mayor Bob Simpson he talks about how Quesnel has expanded within the carbon cycle and I think there are some really innovative ideas coming out of your community right here.”

And for NDP candidate Heather Sapergia, it’s all about retraining workers for a new green economy job…

“For example partnering with the province of British Columbia, by 2040, all of our buses in the province will be going to electric buses, so there are manufacturing jobs in that particular industry. There should be a maintenance facility in each community so these highly skilled mechanics who are now fixing logging equipment might be the ones who are fixing the green bus equipment, and building charging stations.”

Forestry was one of many issues that the candidates talked about.

Others included climate change, the Trans Mountain pipeline, mental health and addictions, and crime to name just a few.