The five Kootenay-Columbia candidates in the upcoming federal election met on Wednesday in an online forum designed to address economic and social issues.
The forum, hosted by the Nelson & District Chamber of Commerce and Nelson At Its Best, solicited questions from 10 subject matter experts in Nelson. They then posed these questions to the candidates using a system in which not all candidates were interviewed on all questions. Candidates did not know in advance what questions would be asked of them.
In attendance were Rana Nelson (Green Party), Wayne Stetski (New Democratic Party), Sarah Bennett (People’s Party of Canada), Rob Morrison (Conservative) and Robin Goldsbury (Liberal).
Throughout the evening, the candidates all agreed that the country needs affordable housing, economic recovery, a cleaner environment, solutions to climate change, affordable child care, reconciliation with First Nations. , a solution to the opioid crisis and more jobs.
Whenever a candidate has spoken generally about these or other topics without naming a specific plan or cost, which was mostly, their comments are not included below.
Labor shortages due to COVID-19 measures
Goldsbury said $ 10 a day child care would soon become a reality under the Liberals and immigrants would have to be rushed for employment.
Morrison said people need to be weaned from PKU if there are jobs available, and the government should make it easier to hire temporary foreign workers.
Stetski said he supports the $ 10-a-day child care program and that the tourism industry needs to be more certain about the Canada-U.S. Border. He said people who go to work under a wage subsidy program are better than those who stay at home.
Nelson said the Green Party will provide 300,000 new homes over three years and a guaranteed annual income for those in need.
Stetski has committed to 500,000 new homes over 10 years in partnership with the provinces, including 80 new homes in Nelson. The NDP would reinstate 30-year mortgages and introduce a 20% tax. 100 on foreign ownership.
Goldsbury touted the Liberals’ national housing strategy and said the government has tripled investments in homelessness and launched a rapid housing initiative. She listed programs designed to encourage multigenerational living, affordable housing construction, and option-to-buy rental programs.
Small business recovery after COVID-19
Stetski said the NDP will continue federal aid programs such as the current wage and rental subsidy programs.
Bennett said “COVID is over” and businesses will benefit from fewer restrictions, fewer subsidies and lower corporate taxes.
“We need to take off our masks, stop unnecessary subsidies and put people back to work,” she said.
Stetski said the NDP would write off up to $ 20,000 in student debt and that college education should be free.
“You should be able to move from kindergarten to university while being paid as a public system,” he said.
Public health measures during COVID-19
Goldsbury said: “Vaccines work, and this is an unvaccinated pandemic.”
Bennett said “natural immunity” is more powerful than a vaccine, which she added is actually gene modification therapy. Vaccine passports are a way to track and locate citizens, she said.
Morrison said he was against mandatory vaccines but did not address vaccine passports except to say they are a provincial responsibility.
Nelson said she was okay with the current restrictions.
Stetski said it would not be legal to make vaccines mandatory and said he preferred a national passport for vaccines rather than separate provincial passports.
Stetski said his party would cut emissions by 50% by 2030, eliminate subsidies to fossil fuel companies, create a million green jobs by renovating infrastructure and buildings, and switch to electric vehicles as well as more rural public transport.
Morrison said economic recovery is needed to raise tax dollars for innovation in green energy and renewables. He said the emitting industries would be taxed to help with this. He said he’s working with a Columbia Valley trucking company that will pioneer the use of hydrogen fuel, and he said he’s promoting an electric train between Trail and Cranbrook.
Morrison added that contrary to popular belief, a conservative convention has not denied the existence of climate change. He said the federal government must help British Columbia deal with the wildfires.
Nelson said the Green Party will oppose construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline and ban hydraulic fracturing.
Bennett said climate change is a reality but should not be seen as a crisis and markets will adapt to it. She said governments should remove carbon taxes.
Goldsbury said moving forward with $ 10 per daycare will result in the hiring of an additional 40,000 early childhood educators.
Candidates were also asked about opioids, the cannabis economy, racist hate crimes and reconciliation with First Nations. They agreed that these were important issues and said their party would certainly do something about them, but did not name specific actions they would take.
Both Stetski and Nelson have said they will implement proportional representation in federal elections. Stetski said an NDP government would ban conversion therapy.
Morrison, to counter criticism of his lack of an office in Nelson and the scarcity of his visits, said he was thinking about it ahead of the pandemic and the closing of constituency offices. Instead, he hired more staff to better serve voters rather than paying office rent, he said, adding that during his tenure as an MP he had visited Nelson 18 times and three times during this election campaign.
Election Canada 2021