All seven candidates in the Cariboo-Prince George riding squared off for a fast-paced forum Thursday at the Pioneer Complex in Williams Lake that attracted around 150 people.
During the forum, candidates were given two minutes to introduce themselves, 30 seconds to answer questions, 15 seconds for a rebuttal, and three minutes for closing remarks.
“The format meant we covered a lot of issues,” said chamber executive director Claudia Blair whose organization hosted the forum with funding from the BC Northern Real Estate Board.
Moderator Jason Ryll asked the candidates questions submitted by the public ahead of time and members of the audience were also given the opportunity to ask questions from the floor.
For the most part the discussions were not heated, although apolitical candidate Gordon Campbell did raise a few eyebrows whenever he fired off some feisty remarks to some of the other candidates or spoke out when it wasn’t his turn.
Former city councillor Surinderpal Rathor asked what secondary industry the candidates would try to bring to the community if elected.
Responding NDP candidate Trent Derrick said he would go into the riding to gather input, while Green Party candidate Richard Jaques said he would invest in underground mining and re-invest in forestry.
Liberal candidate Tracy Calogheros said industry leaders have told her technological development at pulp mills and sawmills could drive power back to communities and created technologies that can be sold.
Christian Heritage Party’s Adam De Kroon said the purpose of government is not to bring in industries, but to be more of a catalyst to help any industries that want to come into a community.
Independent Sheldon Clare said taking advantage of the technology sector is smart, but there are also many other possibilities and opportunities in the region.
Agreeing with De Kroon, Conservative candidate Todd Doherty said it is not government’s business to bring industry in, but to create an environment that’s conducive to creating more business.
Campbell suggested a water line should be built right across Canada to make water accessible to the rest of the world for free as long as they invest in Canada as a country.
Clare said the idea was “absolute nonsense,” as water is an important resource that needs to be protected for all times.
CRD director Steve Forseth asked the major party candidates about infrastructure grant programs, noting the Mountview water project was turned down three times for funding.
Calogheros said the Liberal infrastructure program is targeted at local governments, including First Nations governments to decide priorities and apply for funding.
Doherty said the Conservatives started the Build Canada Fund and the New Build Canada Fund and will continue to work with the region to fund projects.
The NDP plans to commit one per cent of the gas tax to infrastructure funding so it’s sustainable, Derrick said.
Resident Jenny Noble asked the candidates for a long-term vision for protecting the planet.
Campbell suggested using UPC bar codes in a way that allowed consumers to direct money to fund environmental concerns.
Doherty said the Conservatives have worked to reduce greenhouse gases, noting clean waterways, rivers and streams need to be protected.
Clare said rewarding companies that bring value to the environment and protect it should be rewarded by lower tax rates and if they are causing trouble they should be taxed higher.
Companies that recklessly pollute should be fined, De Kroon said, while Calogheros said investing in scientists and getting them back on the ground is crucial.
Jaques said the Green Party is committed to eliminating coal-fired power plants in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia, and restoring protection for rivers and streams under the navigable waters act.
Derrick said NDP leader Tom Mulcair is committed to going to Paris in December to meet with world leaders to plan a strategy for longterm green sustainable jobs, and investing in science and research to make informed sessions.
Turning to Doherty, Derrick asked if he believed in climate change and if he does how is he going to convince the rest of his party.
Responding Doherty said climate has been changing since the dawn of time.
During his closing remarks Jaques said he thinks Williams Lake and surrounding area voters will decide the election’s final outcome.