Elections / News

UBCO All-Candidates Forum

October 7th, 2015

A view of the All Candidates Forum Photo by Sarah James

A view of the All Candidates Forum
Photo by Sarah James

Candidates present: 2 Liberal, 2 Conservative Candidates, 2 NDP. and 1 Green

Last week UBCO students got the opportunity to meet and speak with their local federal election candidates.

All candidates from the major political parties in the Kelowna-Lake Country and Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola ridings were present at the forum to speak with students and staff and give short speeches on their campaign promises. The event was hosted by Political Science professor Dr. Carey Doberstein.

The Kelowna-Lake Country riding covers Lake Country, Oyama, and most of Kelowna, excluding the Mission neighbourhood and those living in the downtown core on the south side of Highway 97. Students living on campus, in Academy Hill, Lake Country, Rutland, Glenmore, and north of the highway downtown will vote in this riding.

Three candidates from this riding were present at the forum. Conservative Ron Cannan has been an MP since 2006 after working many years in marketing and as a Kelowna city councillor. When asked how he would support students if re-elected, Cannan spoke of the importance of maintaining transfer payments to provinces, as these are the bodies ultimately responsible for education. On the question of student employment, Cannan noted, “The government doesn’t create jobs. But it can create the environment for investment.” For Cannan this means ensuring a confident and stable economy and keeping Canada’s debt low so as not to pass it on to future generations.

The Liberal Candidate is Stephen Fuhr, a retired Canadian Forces member. Fuhr is also being supported by local members of the Green Party after their candidate stepped down to endorse the Liberals. In response to student needs, Fuhr promised that a Liberal government would invest $1.3 billion into co-op programs, pre-apprenticeship training, and green jobs for youth. A further $125 billion will be invested in Canada’s transit, social, and green infrastructure. Investing at this strategic time when interest rates are low, Fuhr explained, will trigger growth and therefore boost the employment rate. During his speech at the forum, Fuhr elicited cheers from the crowd when he announced the Liberal party’s promise to practice evidence-based policy and end the censoring of federal scientists. Fuhr was also excited about the Liberal Party’s plan to implement democratic reform within 18 months of being elected. This would improve not only election processes, but transparency and fairness in the House of Commons. “This will allow me to truly represent you, the people of this riding.”

Representing the NDP is Norah Bowman, the Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies at Okanagan College. Bowman is no stranger to our campus: “I was a student here back when it was Okanagan College.” Bowman emphasized creating stable and secure employment for students after graduation, acknowledging the difficulty of piecing together part-time jobs while trying to pay off student debts. The party also plans to establish a $15-a-day childcare program. Bowman pointed out the difficulty young people often face taking time off work to raise a child when they are just at the beginning of their career. Bowman also championed the NDP’s plan to decriminalize marijuana “on day one” and introduce a bill stating that Canadians should be able to express their gender in whatever way they feel comfortable.

The Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola riding is a new riding this election, and includes the Kelowna downtown core south of Highway 97, the Mission neighbourhood, and West Kelowna. Students living south of the highway downtown or on the Westside will vote in this riding.

There were four candidates from this riding attending the forum. Looking for re-election is Conservative Dan Albas, who became an MP in 2011 after working in commerce. If re-elected, Albas would place the economy as a top priority in order to improve quality of life and retirement living. Albas’s past accomplishments include implementing measures against invasive species in local lakes and helping to remove inter-provincial barriers for the wine industry. In his speech at the forum Albas stated that he had a 100% attendance rate for votes in the House of Commons in his term as an MP.

The Conservative party is also planning to introduce tougher legislation against crime and terrorism, including amending the Criminal Code so that criminals could be subject to a life sentence without parole.

Representing the Liberal Party is Karley Scott, the Board President for the Métis Community Services Society and an associate at a Kelowna law firm. Scott highlighted the Liberal’s Youth Employment Strategy, which includes a plan for 40,000 new student jobs each year for the next three years. “I am proof that that investment pays off,” says Scott, having worked in government-funded youth employment when she was a student. Scott is enthusiastic about giving students the opportunity for employment that will help develop meaningful skills.

The Liberal party also plans to legalize and regulate marijuana as well as pass legislation which further protects trans rights and the LGBTQ community. If elected, a Liberal government will also work with provincial premiers to develop strong environmental policies and put a price on carbon pollution.

Angelique Wood, the former director for the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, is representing the NDP. Wood is placing her priorities on climate change, healthcare, and care for seniors this election. This includes the NDP’s pledge to cut oil subsidies and redirect that money to other causes. Wood has also spoken about her party’s plan to raise the federal minimum wage and introduce a national Pharmacare program.

The NDP opposes the construction of the Northern Gateway pipeline and is committed to introducing a nation-wide cap-and-trade program to cut Canada’s carbon emissions. They also plan to repeal Bill C-51, the Conservative’s controversial anti-terrorism bill.

Running for the Green Party is Robert Mellalieu, an IT professional. Passionate about environmental issues, Mallalieu wants to improve local water quality issues and reduce dependence on the oil industry.

The Green Party hopes to prevent the construction of new pipelines and increase corporate tax rates. Their platform also includes abolishing tuition by 2020 and introducing a guaranteed liveable income.

Students and staff wishing to vote in the federal election on October 19th are encouraged to register online, at an Elections Canada office, or at any voting station on the day of the election. For residents of campus and Academy Hill there will be a voting station in the Purcell House Lounge from 7am-7pm. Students who wish to vote in their home riding may do so by advanced polling or by mail-in ballot. This must be completed by Oct. 13th. Any Canadian citizen of at least 18 years of age is eligible to vote provided that they bring ID to the polling station on the day of the election as well as proof of their current address if it differs from the address on their ID. More information is available at elections.ca.

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Photo by Alex Barberis

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