All seven candidates participate in public forum

In the absence of a serious political platform, the Rhinoceros party candidate Jordan Turner offered few real solutions for the nation’s ills, but displayed the levity that might be needed in order to tackle some of them.

In the absence of a serious political platform, the Rhinoceros party candidate Jordan Turner offered few real solutions for the nation’s ills, but displayed the levity that might be needed in order to tackle some of them.  

Turner joined other federal candidates in the Cariboo-Prince George riding – Jon Ronan (IND), Dick Harris (CON), Jon Van Barneveld (NDP), Henry Thiessen (CHP), Sangeeta Lalli (LIB), and Heidi Redl (GRN) – for the first of two all-candidates meetings Wednesday evening at the Cariboo Arts Centre.    

The meeting was organized by the Williams Lake chapter of the Council of Canadians and gave the public an opportunity to submit questions that would be answered by each candidate.  

The first question: how would candidates address the growing gap between the rich and the poor? Thiessen said society must consider the reasons for the gap.  He suggested the problem is a result of taxation. Ronan offered more details including raising personal income tax for the highest earners, lowering tax rates for the middle class and suggested setting corporate tax rates at 18 per cent. Van Barneveld  proposed a reinvestment in Canada’s social safety net in order to “lift” people up. “We need to take a look at what kind of society we want to live in,” he said.  

Harris acknowledged the growing gap and suggested a combination of education and a low-tax regime for both citizens and business is the answer. 

“I don’t think trying to address the poverty gap by becoming a welfare state is the answer,” Harris said. Redl proposed to raise taxes on carbon-based polluters while lowering the personal and corporate tax. 

Would the candidates oppose the party if it embarked on a policy it has not publicly introduced during the election?

Thiessen said the litmus test would be whether a policy benefitted all Canadians. “I would only support it if it met that criteria.” Van Barneveld suggested an “open dialogue” with MPs could prevent that from happening.  

“The job of the MP is to represent your voice in Ottawa,” he told the audience. Harris said the government takes direction from the voters through the election process. In supporting a government citizens send a message on the direction they would like government to proceed. “Government is elected by a majority of the vote and is expected to continue down the path it presents as part of its platform,” Harris said.

Lalli expressed doubt that this scenario would transpire given leader Michael Ignatieff’s cross-country tour last year where he heard the concerns of Canadians. 

Candidates were then asked how they would address seniors’ issues given that the baby boomer generation is now hitting 65. 

Van Barneveld outlined his party’s interest in bringing home care under the Health Act, improving the Guaranteed Income Supplement to seniors as well as “bolstering” the pension system. Harris said no party had an exclusive interest in seeing seniors prosper only different approaches as to how it can be achieved. He said the Conservatives have reduced income taxes so that thousands of seniors are off income-tax roles. 

Ronan suggested creating a benchmark for a “living retirement” similar to a living wage. Lalli pointed to her party’s Family Care Initiative that proposes extended employment insurance and tax benefits to people who care for family members, in addition to increasing the Guaranteed Income Supplement for low-income seniors.  

When the question of engaging youth was asked, Lalli took the opportunity to remind the public of the national Conservative campaign that had removed two young women from a Conservative rally because they had a picture on Facebook of them with the Liberal leader.  

 

 

 

She further suggested that the Liberal’s education platform that gives students financial grants over their post-secondary careers was one that could help to engage youth. Harris, Van Barneveld and Redl pointed to the success their parties have had creating youth wings at the University of Northern British Columbia; Van Barneveld added that he felt youth would be more engaged if polititicians addressed issues that pertain to them and Redl  and Van Barneveld said their parties were taking advantage of social media such as Twitter and Facebook. Thiessen suggested electoral reform such as proportional representation might reignite interest.  

When asked about what should be the future of Canada’s nuclear energy program given the recent events in Japan, Redl and Van Barneveld suggested it should be phased out; Lalli acknowledged that until alternative forms of energy can be found nuclear power is still necessary in places like Ontario. Thiessen suggested nuclear power generation is “fairly clean” and that government should find ways to make the process “less risky.” Harris noted that there are nuclear power plants in Canada that operate “safety under strict regulations” and that to his knowledge that was been, “no serious problems.” 

Would the candidates support electoral reform? Lalli said she would be open to reform and that the public should be engaged in the process to determine a new system. Thiessen expressed his interest in proportional representation, eliminating subsidies to political parties and electing senators.  Van Barneveld spoke for proportional representation and abolishing the senate. Harris agreed with Lalli but spoke in defence of the current system saying “It’s worked well for Canada since 1867. It’s provided us with strong, stable governments.” Redl countered Harris’s assessment pointing out that the current system doesn’t work and that “nobody envies our first-past-the-post system.”

The privatization of health-care was also queried. Lalli defended public care as a “necessity.”  Thiessen suggested there was a place for private care in the system but that it should be “managed and paid for by the government,” and remain accessible. Van Barneveld said the public system should be protected and can be paid for by rolling back corporate tax cuts. Harris suggested that the Conservative party supports public health care and that the party has “not intention” to privatize it. Redl promoted the idea of universal pharmacare, no health-care privatization and more beds across the system. The federal election is May 2. 

 

 

 

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A 100 Mile RCMP officer stands watch at the intersction of Highway 97 and Horse Lake Road. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Volunteers, police search Highway 97 for articles related to high-speed chase

Search will stretch from Canco Gas Station in Lac La Hache to 150 Mile House.

An aerial photograph captures snowmobile tracks in the Cameron Ridge area earlier this year, which is closed to snowmobilers. The closures are in place to protect sensitive caribou herds. (Conservation Officer Service photo)
Snowmobilers fined for operating in closed caribou habitat near Likely, B.C.

The investigation revealed they had spent several hours in the closure leaving extensive tracks

The RCMP arrest one of the suspects on Highway 97 courtesy of cell phone footage shot by a bystander. (April Thomas photo)
WATCH: Two suspects arrested after multi-jurisdictional chase

A half dozen police cars were seen heading north on Highway 97

Commercial tenants at the Williams Lake Regional Airport have been granted an additional six-month rent reprieve. (Angie Mindus file photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Continuing rent relief for Williams Lake Airport tenants considered

City council discussed the option during a committee of the whole meeting

The Grade 2 class of 150 Mile House Elementary attended Cariboo Memorial Hospital with teacher Kirsty Bowers to deliver “kindness” bags full of small gifts to housekeeping staff. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
150 Mile House students deliver gift bags showing appreciation for hospital staff

Students begin Monday morning with a bus trip to Cariboo Memorial Hospital

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

COVID-19 vaccines were available at a site on East Pender in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside Feb. 25. (Twitter/Sarahblyth17)
Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside residents offered $5 after getting COVID-19 vaccine

It’s an effort to ‘incentivize people to engage,’ says B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix

</p>
A survey by Statistics Canada finds Black Canadians earn less than non-visible minority Canadians despite having higher levels of education. (The Canadian Press file photo)
COVID-19 worsened unemployment picture for Black Canadians

Black Canadians also more likely to suffer other hardships

On June 23, 2020, Sunrise Rotary announced it will be donating $50,000 in support of the Bridge Youth and Family Services for the construction of the “Okanagan Youth Recovery House” project for young people under the age of 19 who are experiencing addiction. (Contributed)
Interior Health adds 10 youth substance-use treatment beds in the Okanagan

The Bridge Youth and Family Services will operate the beds

(Black Press Media files)
B.C. teacher transferred then suspended after students report feeling ‘scared, nervous’

Authorities found that teacher did not create inviting, respectful environment for students

Victoria’s Swartz Bay terminal. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries offers cheaper, prepaid fare options

Ferry service preparing for busy terminals when travel restrictions are lifted

FILE - Dolly Parton arrives at the 61st annual Grammy Awards on Feb. 10, 2019, in Los Angeles. The Grammy-winning singer, actor and humanitarian posted a video on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, of her singing just before getting her COVID-19 vaccine shot. Parton donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee for coronavirus research. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
‘Vaccine, vaccine’: Dolly sings ‘Jolene’ rewrite before shot

The Grammy-winning legend turned 75 this year

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland speaks about the Fiscal update during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday November 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
COVID-19: Wage and rent subsidies, lockdown support to be extended until June

Chrystia Freeland says now is not time to lower levels of support

Most Read