Seven candidates vie to represent Cariboo-Prince George

The Tribune posed 11 questions to the seven candidates running to represent the Cariboo-Prince George riding in the upcoming federal election on Monday May 2.

  • Apr. 26, 2011 11:00 a.m.

The Tribune posed 11 questions to the seven candidates running to represent the Cariboo-Prince George riding in the upcoming federal election on Monday May 2.

The questions asked ranged from economic development to health care, agriculture, to First Nations relations and others related to local issues.

We are dividing the answers into two sections with five of the candidates’ answers running in today’s Tribune and the other six questions will follow in Thursday’s Tribune.

The first five questions are as follows.

1. What is your position on the Prosperity Mine project?

2.  In regards to mining activities and provincial and federal environmental review processes, do you think the two levels of government review processes should be combined?  Why?

3. How would you or your party support the local economy and local jobs?

4. How does your party propose to help grow local economies that are heavily resource dependent?

5. How would you or your party balance the needs of protecting the environment and encouraging development?

Dick Harris

Conservative Party

1.What is your position on the Prosperity Mine project?

I have been working with Prosperity since 2007 assisting them at the federal level. Their first proposal unfortunately did not receive approval based on the Review Panel’s report. Subsequent to that decision, I have continued to assist Prosperity as they proceed with a new proposal that they will submit once again for approval. I fully support the project and see the huge economic benefit that this  new mine will  bring to the area. I am confident that Prosperity completely recognizes their environment obligations and is seeking to fully comply with them.

2. In regards to mining activities and provincial and federal environmental review processes, do you think the two levels of government review processes should be combined? Why?

I absolutely support an “environmental equivalence” arrangement with the province. This will dramatically speed up the process and get resource companies up and running much sooner…assuming a positive environmental review outcome.

3. How would you or your party support the local economy and local jobs?

Our Conservative government implemented the Economic Action Plan to do just that. Since 2008 more than $200 million has flowed into infrastructure projects and other job creation and job sustaining programs. As a result, the economy of Williams Lake has been revived. I believe that Williams Lake and area is on the cusp of a 10 to  15 year boom. As your Member of Parliament, I am proud to have played a role in the economic recovery of Williams Lake.

4. How does your party propose to help grow local economies that are heavily resource dependent?

Our Conservative government fully recognizes the critical role that resource-based companies play in the economic well being of Williams Lake. We will continue to promote the use of softwood lumber in unconventional markets such as China and, through our very successful federal “wood is good” marketing program, we will continue to assist our B.C. forest compnies to find new markets to supplement the traditional U.S. market. We will encourage development of mining and oil and gas resources in our region, approval subject of course to rigorous environmental review.

5. How would you or your party balance the needs of protecting the environment and encouraging development?

Of course, the goal is always to seek balance. I am currently working on a Bill to provide an equal and parallel economic review to be considered alongside any environmental review.

Sangeeta Lalli

Liberal Party

1.What is your position on the Prosperity Mine project?

This project can gain my support after it gains environmental approval and the approval of local stakeholders.  The proposal for Prosperity Mine needs to pass the environmental assessment to ensure minimal impact on the surrounding environment.

Once this is achieved, the proposal also has to gain approval of local stakeholders including the First Nations. It is up to Taseko to gain the approval of local stake holders and ensure minimal environmental impacts occur from the creation of this mine.

2. In regards to mining activities and provincial and federal environmental review processes, do you think the two levels of government review processes should be combined? Why?

When jurisdictions were split between federal and provincial governments, the environment was not an issue of relevance or importance.  Today, it is of great importance and no level of government has full authorization over it.

For this reason, environmental review processes should be combined to ensure the best for all Canadians and the Canadian environment.

3. How would you or your party support the local economy and local jobs?

Every Canadian needs essential tools to help create a strong base for themselves and the economy they contribute to. For this reason, the Liberal Party is focusing on creating strong families and strong individuals who have the necessary tools to achieve their full potential.   Students can receive up to $6,000 for their post-secondary education.    Doctors and nurses will have portions of their student debt forgiven for practicing in rural areas providing a better and stronger health- care system in this riding.

Healthy Canadians are strong Canadians who can work towards creating a strong economy.

4. How does your party propose to help grow local economies that are heavily resource dependent?

The Liberal Party proposes investments towards innovation.  The Liberals will focus on innovation in three key sectors which will be essential in the global economy over the next few decades.  These sectors include clean resources, health and biosciences, and digital technologies.  Businesses and individuals will be given incentives to be innovative in these sectors which will create new industries and jobs across this country.  The clean resources sector will be especially important in this riding.

5. How would you or your party balance the needs of protecting the environment and encouraging development?

Canada can lead the world in green innovation through clean resources and energy.  Canadians have world-leading experience in natural resource development.  We now have to leverage that experience to meet the demands of tomorrow’s global markets, and to better manage our environmental footprint locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.

The Liberals will also provide a Green Renovation Tax Credit that will help Canadian families save money, while also helping the environment.  Also, 50 per cent  of  the costs of a home audit required before creating a greener home will be covered by the Liberal government if elected.

Heidi Redl

Green Party

1.What is your position on the Prosperity Mine project?

The Prosperity Mine project was divisive for our community. Whenever you have a proposed project that splits a community in half, between the ‘yes’ side and the ‘no’ side, you have a problem. The Greens did not support the Prosperity Mine project last year and because that division in our community between the aboriginal people and the business community still exists, we do not support Taseko’s new proposal or Plan B, either. If there were ever a mine proposal in this community which met with both the approval of everyone affected, and the environmental review process, we could support that.

2. In regards to mining activities and provincial and federal environmental review processes, do you think the two levels of government review processes should be combined? Why?

As long as a combination of the two processes would save taxpayer money and avoid a duplication of services, then yes. In this case of Prosperity though, no. It would not have served our community at all. The province was clearly in support of the proposed mine and the Harper government was not. If the two levels of government could work together in a way that treats all stakeholders fairly, we would be in favour.

3. How would you or your party support the local economy and local jobs?

Please realize, the Greens do not trade off jobs for the environment. There are many local economy and jobs planks in the Green platform, including: forestry, agriculture, tourism, mining, and energy. For example, with the implementation of technology that already exists, Canada (including the Cariboo) could reduce its energy demand by 50%. Using those technologies, we will fund energy retrofits for museums, universities, schools and hospitals within this riding and local people would be hired to do the work.

4. How does your party propose to help grow local economies that are heavily resource dependent?

Rural Communities and local economies thrive in our Green Vision (our platform), including communities dependent on natural resources. On an individual, personal level I’m a great believer in “shop local.” I think that when you approach local merchants looking for help for your son or daughter’s school trip or sports team, you should support those merchants in turn. As a Green Party member I push for local food-sourcing and small-scale farm support, support for woodlots and support for small-businesses, especially those involved in value-added manufacturing.

5. How would you or your party balance the needs of protecting the environment and encouraging development?

As an example, we would provide more funding to find the best way to harvest beetle-kill wood and to mitigate the economic impact of the beetle kill epidemic. Look at the Tourism Discovery Centre in Williams Lake to see how beetle-killed wood can be used to answer questions, educate everyone and promote tourism in this area.

Tourism, eco-tourism in particular, is very popular with European visitors to our region and is a great way to develop our economy while preserving and protecting our environment. Taking pictures of grizzlies and black bears is, as far as I know, harmless to the animals/environment and does wonders for bringing more people, and therefore more money, to our area.

Jon Ronan

Independent

1.What is your position on the Prosperity Mine project?

Killing a living lake is not acceptable. Prosperity will have to come up with another way to dispose of their tailings.

2. In regards to mining activities and provincial and federal environmental review processes, do you think the two levels of government review processes should be combined? Why?

Two levels of government should combine their reviews to avoid duplication and economy.

3. How would you or your party support the local economy and local jobs?

Personal income tax for the middle class should be lowered. The current corporate tax is 18%. Provide a tax incentive for green business and penalize polluters.

4. How does your party propose to help grow local economies that are heavily resource dependent?

Support the local economy and jobs by providing a level playing field with competitors and sound infrastructure development. Reduce bureaucratic involvement.

5. How would you or your party balance the needs of protecting the environment and encouraging development?

Any development should leave as little a footprint as possible. Provide tax incentives for green business and penalize polluters.

Henry Thiessen

Christian Heritage Party

1.What is your position on the Prosperity Mine project?

Historically, mining has been the number two industry in British Columbia (forestry being number one) in terms of revenue and employment, so it is a very important part of our local economy.   I am in favour of seeing the Prosperity Mine developed and put into production, but doing it in a manner that will do the least amount of damage to the environment, and maximum benefit to the local residents involved.

2. In regards to mining activities and provincial and federal environmental review processes, do you think the two levels of government review processes should be combined? Why?

I would need to do more homework on this issue before I could reply to that question.

3. How would you or your party support the local economy and local jobs?

First of all, the role of the federal government is to create and foster a healthy environment where business and development will flourish, and to minimize red tape in order for that to work efficiently.

Secondly, we cannot continue to export our raw materials, be it logs, livestock, or even crude oil, and expect our local and regional economies to remain strong. We must invest in facilities to process these raw materials, providing jobs to our people and generating more revenue in the process.

4. How does your party propose to help grow local economies that are heavily resource dependent?

See question three.

5. How would you or your party balance the needs of protecting the environment and encouraging development?

First of all, it’s important to identify what real threats to the environment are.  We have heard a lot about CO2 and its supposed harmful effects.

However CO2 and water vapour—the main so-called “greenhouse gases”— are not pollutants.

Both are essential to agriculture—and indeed, to all life on earth. Some have argued that carbon-credit exchanges and/or carbon taxes will do more harm than good: by crippling our industrial capacity, they will hamper our ability to deal with real pollution.

Jordan Turner

Rhino Party

1.What is your position on the Prosperity Mine project?

I was disappointed that the project did not get approved. An increase in gold production plays a key role in the Rhinoceros party’s economic stimulus plan for Williams Lake.

If elected, I promise to bring more golddiggers into the riding.

2. In regards to mining activities and provincial and federal environmental review processes, do you think the two levels of government review processes should be combined? Why?

The Rhinoceros Party believes that the provincial and federal environmental review processes should be combined to create a “fedincial” environmental review process.

Furthermore, the Prosperity Mine should combine gold and copper production to create “gopper.” These two mergers are made in response to public demand for hybrids.

3. How would you or your party support the local economy and local jobs?

The Rhinoceros Party will try to host the next G8 Summit in Prince George. This summit will be called “PG-8.” If we can get five more member countries to join, it will be called “PG-13.”

Even though Prince George is more than  200 kilometers away, the local economy will reap the benefits of hundreds of thousands of public money spent on sidewalk upgrades, public restrooms, and most importantly, gazebos. Gazebos are vital to the local economy, as they provide shade, shelter, and a place for workers to rest on their time off.

4. How does your party propose to help grow local economies that are heavily resource dependent?

The Rhinoceros party proposes that more monies be invested in developing tourism as a supplement to our resource-based economy. If elected, I will push to have the Fraser River dammed just west of Williams Lake. The resulting reservoir will flood the streets, making Williams Lake the Venice of North America. Tourists will flock in hoards from all over the world to see the street canals, similar to those in Italy. In the winter the water will freeze, creating an ice rink similar to the Rideau Canal skateway in Ottawa.

5. How would you or your party balance the needs of protecting the environment and encouraging development?

The Rhinoceros party promises to ban lousy Canadian winters, and this can only be done by increasing the rate of global warming. To achieve this, we encourage heavy-polluting industrial development. Global warming also plays an important role in Canada’s “savannification” process to create a better rhinoceros habitat in the prairies. To help intensify global warming to new levels, we can tap into the natural resource of hot air in Ottawa, or into smaller deposits such as that in Victoria.

Jon Van Barneveld

New Democratic Party

1.What is your position on the Prosperity Mine project?

Mining has always been a part of the Cariboo’s economy. However, further mining developments need to address First Nations values as a first step and not the last hurdle. The Prosperity mine project failed to consider First Nations values as well as provide a realistic and ecological proposal. I believe that mining projects should go through a meaningful process that includes First Nations and be evaluated under an environmental assessment that examines the effects on the local and regional environment. The Prosperity Mine project has failed to deliver on a realistic and inclusive proposal and they continue to try and proceed in a non-sustainable manner.

2. In regards to mining activities and provincial and federal environmental review processes, do you think the two levels of government review processes should be combined? Why?

The environmental review process is very important. We need to ensure that the two levels of environmental assessment do not produce results that are so opposing. The province obviously did not take into account the same values as the federal assessment.

The federal government should be asserting the powers available to it to ensure that the cumulative environmental impacts of development on air, water, land, fish, and wildlife are properly examined. If the federal and provincial review processes are combined, it should be done in a way that offers the most comprehensive study possible and helps to ensure that our resource-based projects create jobs in a sustainable manner.

3. How would you or your party support the local economy and local jobs?

We will support the local economy and local jobs by rewarding those businesses that create jobs here instead of giving tax cuts to those corporations that export jobs overseas.

A New Democrat government will establish a Job Creation Tax Credit that will provide up to $4,500 per new hire and further reward those companies that keep their new hires for 12 months or more with a further $1,000 non-refundable tax credit. We will also reduce the small business tax rate from 11 per cent to 9 per cent.  I am committed to encouraging sustainable growth and creating jobs here at home.

4. How does your party propose to help grow local economies that are heavily resource dependent?

While supporting sustainable growth and diversification within our traditional resource industries, I will also promote the creation of new jobs. We need to make sure that we don’t just ship raw products such as logs or oil overseas when we have the capacity to manufacture goods here at home.

Small business accounts for nearly half of Canada’s jobs and I feel that our direction will help to ensure that a solid foundation is laid for the general economy.

5. How would you or your party balance the needs of protecting the environment and encouraging development?

All new development must be thoroughly reviewed in order to determine whether the long-term costs outweigh the short-term gains.

We need to ensure that all values are taking into consideration especially with large mega-project in the region. In addition, we need to be proactive in helping our traditional resource sectors transition into a greener economy.

Diversification of our resource sectors to promote emerging economies such as bio-fuels and alternative energies as well as sustainable agricultural policies will help to balance our economic development and our environmental values and stewardship.

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