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Your election, your choice

Local organizations ask candidates the tough questions

Local organizations ask candidates the tough questions

Plenty of tough issues rest on this election, which is why Monday decided to ask some of our favourite organizations to grill the candidates with questions pertinent to their cause.


Environment“In many ecosystems of B.C., old-growth forest is incredibly scarce — 91 per cent of valley bottom ancient forest growth on the southern coast has been logged of the classic monumental trees. Are you willing to commit to fully ending old-growth logging in any regions or ecosystems of B.C.?”Ken Wu , Executive Director, Ancient Forest Alliance

Jane Sterk, Green: Yes. It is a policy of BC Greens that we stop all old-growth logging in B.C.

Carole James, NDP: The BC NDP is committed to protecting our province’s environment and coasts and will take measures to protect significant ecological areas including wetlands, estuaries and valuable old-growth forests.

Karen Bill, Liberal: Old-growth forests are not disappearing. There are more than 25 million hectares of old-growth forests in B.C. About 4.5 million hectares are fully protected, representing an area larger than Vancouver Island. Conserving old growth is an important part of long-term resource management. By law, forests that reflect the working definition of old growth must be retained in ecological units to meet biodiversity needs.

John Shaw, BC Communist Party: Yes, all regions of the province containing old-growth forests should be protected and maintained. The provincial government must ban raw log exports, and legislate the processing of timber locally for export as lumber or value-added products under public ownership and control.


Health + Social Services“What will you do to move forward on the implementation of safer consumption services in places of high need, like Victoria?”Katrina Jensen, Executive Director, AIDS Vancouver Island

“What investment will your party make to help end homelessness?”Alan Rycroft, Community Relations, Victoria CoolAid Society

Jane Sterk, Green: BC Greens support the use of evidence-based harm-reduction practices such as needle-exchanges, substitution treatments and safe consumption sites. Our drug policies would be ensured in all regions.

We will commit one per cent of B.C.’s budget to solving the housing crisis. We will mandate BC Housing to purchase existing units in stalled projects to provide an immediate pool of housing and support the development of new, non-profit co-operatives.

Carole James, NDP: We believe harm reduction is the best approach to the use of illegal drugs. A supervised injection site is regulated under the federal government. We would discuss the need for a site if an application came forward with the support of the community.

A $210-million B.C. Family Bonus is part of our plan to lift 8,000 families out of poverty. Other steps: cutting child-care cost by $2,000 for parents of toddlers; indexing increase to income assistance to CPI and building 1,500 units of affordable housing.

Karen Bill, Liberal: BC Liberals believe in a continuum of supports and programs to address challenges people with addiction issues face.  Harm reduction is one of the approaches supported. We have funded and continue to fund a number of harm-reduction initiatives.

We will continue to work with partners to address homelessness in the region. Our government has and will continue to invest significant capital dollars into new and renovated supportive housing.

John Shaw, BC Communist Party: I am in favour of establishing safer injection sites in places of high need, and I would work to counteract any campaigns in the media against these sites with a program of public and community education involving neighbourhood associations, advocacy groups and local levels of government, etc.

The Communist Party would commit to the construction of 5,000 new social housing units annually in the province. It would extend support to co-op and other non-profit housing alternatives.


Civil Liberties“What are you prepared to do to increase police accountability and respond to the ongoing tragedy of murdered and missing women, and the shocking Human Rights Watch Report on the crisis of policing with respect to aboriginal girls and women in Northern British Columbia?”Micheal Vonn, Policy Director, B.C. Civil Liberties Association

Jane Sterk, Green: Greens believe we need to restore confidence in law enforcement; law enforcement must be subject to reasonable limits and undergo periodic reviews. We will establish a provincial police service with a citizen’s assembly to make recommendation on policing and law enforcement.

Carole James, NDP: A BC NDP government will address the recommendations made by the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry. We will also introduce measures to reduce poverty, establish a Ministry of Women’s Equality, and enhance support services for women and children.

Karen Bill, Liberal: Today’s BC Liberals are committed to improving the safety of vulnerable women. The Honourable Steven Point, former lieutenant governor of B.C., has been selected to chair a new advisory committee on the safety and security of vulnerable women. He will work with government as it implements the recommendations from the Missing Women’s Inquiry report.

John Shaw, BC Communist Party: I would favour the appointment of a fully public inquiry into the conduct of the police with respect to the scandalous breaches of duty and application of justice. The Communist Party would put all necessary resources into solving the cases of missing women across B.C.


Economics“What is your plan for Medical Services Plan (MSP) premiums — do you have a tangible way to freeze or reduce them? And would you, in the next four years, introduce a fat or sugar tax in B.C.? How will you deal with issues of obesity?”Jordan Bateman, B.C. Director, Canadian Taxpayers Federation

Jane Sterk, Green: BC Greens will phase out MSP premiums and fund the public health system from general revenue. We also see that a significant part of the problem is a lack of preventative care and action. Greens would increase tobacco taxes and institute a “junk food tax.” We support local economies, which includes reinvesting in our agriculture and eating more local produce.

Carole James, NDP: Since 2001, the Liberals have increased MSP rates eight times. Reversing those increases would cost about $1 billion per year, and that is not possible at this time. We believe that issues of obesity are important and will promote a healthy lifestyle for all British Columbians through increased health education.

Karen Bill, Liberal: Today’s BC Liberals are committed to providing British Columbians with a health care system that meets the demands of a population that is both changing and aging. Any changes to MSP rates would require a commensurate tax increase in other areas. We have no plans to implement a tax of this nature.

John Shaw, BC Communist Party: Abolish MSP premiums and other regressive user fees.  Finance the removal of MSP premiums with the restoration or pre-2001 tax rates on the wealthy and the corporations to add $2 billion annually to provincial revenues.  Establishment of public health education program designed to prevent obesity by developing,  high-fibre, low-fat, well-balanced diets requiring less meat.  Promote the consumption of local, organically grown, non-GMO veggies, fruits and whole grains. M