All 7 Cariboo-Prince George Candidates were in attendance at the last forum Thursday night in which pre-submitted questions were drawn from a box and the public was given the opportunity to ask their questions to Candidate(s) of their choice.
One of the topics persisting throughout the night was the economy, with all Candidates asked what will they do to promote a more responsible and diversified economy in an area of the province that continues to rely on resource extraction.
Apolitical Candidate Gordon Campbell was the first candidate to give his 30-second timed response.
He pointed to UPC codes being the problem.
“All that pulp and stuff that you have here going around in the world for nothing in everybody’s garbage can at least you get a percentage of it. Right now everything that is printed out there-all those trees turns into pulp and all of us poor people got to find a garbage can for it. We should not get anything in our mail which is not paid for.”
Following Campbell’s response, the audience, as well the 6 other candidates asked for the question to be repeated.
Conservative Todd Doherty: “First I believe, it shouldn’t be a matter of either or when we’re talking about resource development. We should be able to find a way that we can do both. We need to make sure we’re working with our provincial partners, working with our industry, working with municipalities so we can capture every opportunity so that we’re able to also work with our First Nations so that we can have investment, we can have development, and we continue to have a strong economy.”
Independent Sheldon Clare: “Making sure that education is well fronted to provide maximal opportunities to the maximum number of people so they can take advantage of a diversified economy, and burgeoning tech sector, and opportunities in both renewable and non-renewable resources…We have plenty of opportunities here. We have lots of well-resourced people who are capable of doing the work-we just them to have the tools to do the job.”
Christian Heritage Party Adam De Kroon: “One thing I think we can do is make a shift towards value-added products here…When we refine resources, when we refine products here, whether that’s through sawmills or manufacturing it creates a diverse economy naturally.”
Liberal Tracy Calogheros: “The 21st century requires us to think about a triple bottom line when we’re talking about any type of responsible resource development-social, economic, and ecological values all count…That means we need actual science from actual scientists who are able to share the information they come up with, we also need to invest in innovation and youth because clean technologies and clean jobs are the waves of the future.”
Green Party Richard Jaques: “When the question was first asked, the first thing I wrote down was $800 million dollars which would help out a lot especially our forestry industry. The other thing I wrote down was reinvesting in mining. Mt. Polley was a disaster, we know it, but I like Mr. Cobb (Mayor of Williams Lake), agree that we have to have the jobs in the ground and get the material out of the ground and what our party is recommending is dry stacking.”
NDP Trent Derrick: “One of the key priorities for us is actually investing in research and development so we can actually support science-based decisions…We also have a plan to invest in tax credits for those who want to expand their manufacturing as well. We also want to champion manufacturing that innovates small businesses such as Crazy Horse Energy Drink here that are coming up with new, creative ways of doing things-they just need someone to champion and support them.”
Another question that arose from the public was from Tolko employee Surinderpal Rathor on the expired softwood lumber agreement and what Candidates would do to deliver the best made in Canada solution.
Green Party Richard Jaques did not hesitate to point out that something should have been done a whole lot sooner.
“I know for a fact that our allowable cut is dropping from 5 million down to 3 million. I know that the Conservative government promised us a billion dollars and yet only gave us one-fifth of that. Now that the lumber is out there is dead and dangerous, so now we have to start over.”
Conservative Todd Doherty responded by saying he has already been starting to work with industry so that on October 20th a plan can already start to be enacted and delivered to Ottawa.
Christian Heritage Party Adam De Kroon agreed with Jaques, that negotiations should have been in place far before now and said if elected, he would make sure any agreement reached would be in the best interest of the citizens of Cariboo-Prince George.
Williams Lake resident Darrick Boyes asked all Candidates, except Campbell how they will ensure individuals who want to succeed in their workplace and make a higher income can without shying away by feeling burdened with higher taxes.
Conservative Todd Doherty: “We need to do everything in our power to create the environment so that everybody can succeed and making sure we’re keeping taxes low, keeping money in your pocket so you’re not paying more to government…Our whole entire platform is just that…You hear a lot of middle class from the other parties, our plan is for all Canadians.”
Independent Sheldon Clare: “I think you can’t be attacking people because they make a bit more money, I think that’s a mistake… I personally think the Liberal plan has a fundamental flaw in it. If you’re making $200,000 a year, you’re looking at paying as much $10,000 more in taxes to be able to subsidize other parts of the economy. I think that’s actually a big mistake that will harm our economy, harm incentive, and put our economy in the toilet.”
Christian Heritage Party Adam De Kroon: “I believe in low taxes in general and especially a high exemption for lower income tax brackets…I support no income tax at all for under $35,000 and then for it to level at higher incomes for $100,000 plus; make it pretty flat like it is now.”
Liberal Tacy Calohergos: “I believe Canadians are generally interested in fairness. I don’t believe that high earners asking to pay a little bit more so the middle class can pay a little bit less is a disincentive to people wanting to succeed-Sheldon (Independent) it’s 3% we’re talking about….I do think Canada needs to look at all of the fees and charges that have been levied on us as our taxes have dropped under the Conservatives they have increased but you just don’t see them as taxes anymore.”
Green Party Richard Jaques: “I’ve had some personal experience with that one. I was a member of that middle class and I was a senior constable earning about $75,000 with OT and stuff, but I can tell you I was taxed at about 48%, so I only took home about $35,000 a year and when it came to retirement time the treasury board offered zero, zero, and zero and the rest of us said so you’re going to give us a raise but tax us at 53%…The personal outcome tax rate and income tax overall have to be reduced so you take home more money at the end of the day.”
NDP Trent Derrick: “As a small businessman I understand the value of hard work and putting in….That’s why I love the NDP platform-it’s a balanced approach. We take into consideration society, we take into consideration health care, we take into consideration the environment; those are all part of the system as well…Without those as well no matter how much money you earn, if the rest the of the country is falling behind you’re going to have other issues and problems creep up as well so we have to have that balanced approach. ”
Climate change was the last question brought forth before each candidate was given 3 minutes for closing remarks.
NDP Candidate Trent Derrick says leader Tom Mulcair is committed to going to Paris in December to meet with world leaders to come up with a strategy as well as creating green sustainable jobs.
He posed a question to Conservative Todd Doherty.
“Do you believe in climate change and if you do, how are you going to convince the rest of your party?”
Doherty says he believes that the climate has been changing since the dawn of time.
“I know that growing up we had lots of snow and it’s few and far in between. We’re having drought conditions over in the Chilcotin as well too. I’m not sure we have to convince our party.”
Doherty says the Conservatives have worked with provincial partners to reduce greenhouses while keeping a strong economy although he did admit more needs to be done.
Independent Sheldon Clare says companies bringing value to the community and environment should be rewarded through lower tax rates, with Christian Heritage Party Adam de Kroon saying reckless companies should be fined.
Green Party Richard Jaques says his party is committed to getting rid of coal generating power plants, and more.
“The other thing we’re committed is restoring the river and the streams navigable act, which means restoring the protection to our rivers and streams.”
Liberal Tracy Calohergos says addressing climate change comes down to science; being able to do science, and to actually share it.
“I’ve spent the last 22 years working in a facility that is all about informal science education and I have tried for the last 10 years to get this government to talk to us as a national organization, to invest in teaching kids about science. If we don’t get our scientists back out there on the earth looking at what’s going on we’re in trouble.”
Campbell, who was called the “Jester” by some members of the public following the forum had said his performance was due to anti-anxiety medication and nervousness after Doherty claimed he was being disrespectful.
Polling stations open on Monday, Oct. 19 from 7 am until 7 pm.