Candidates prepare to deliver their opening statements (Alan Forsythe/ The Standard)

Candidates prepare to deliver their opening statements (Alan Forsythe/ The Standard)

Contentious issues debated at candidates meeting in Hope

Locals pack conference hall to learn more about local candidates

The Hope Recreation Centre conference room was filled Thursday night (Oct. 10) with local residents listening to six of the seven candidates running to represent them federally for the Chilliwack-Hope riding explain why they should vote for them.

It was a night when the Marxist-Leninist candidate, Dorothy-Jean O’Donnell, found common ground with PPC Candidate, Rob Bogunovic, both saying (in their own words) that it was time Canadians chose to take control of their destiny and reject the Liberal/Conservative cartel.

“I think Max [Maxime Bernier] said it best, they [the political establishment] are attacking you, the Canadian people. We at the PPC believe in free expression,” said Bogunovic.

In a similar vein, Dorothy-Jean O’Donnell said, “The issues Canadians are facing are being divided between left and right, when the real divide is old versus new.”

However, Bogunovic added that in order for Canadians to have meaningful political dialogue we have to fight against increasingly constrictive political correctness.

“We knew coming into this election we’d be attacked. There’s so much you can’t say now, if we question immigration levels that’s racist.”

Candidate for the Conservative Party, Mark Strahl, seeking his third term representing the riding, said in a pre-meeting interview with the Hope Standard that if reelected he will continue to bring common sense to politics.

“I’m honoured to have been elected by the people of Chilliwack-Hope twice, I know the people choose the representative they want and I have been given that privilege twice now to bring common sense to the House of Commons.

He added that it is only a vote for the CPC that can effect a change in government. “People might be intrigued by the PPC, but I think more and more people realize the only political entity that can defeat the Liberals and Justin Trudeau is the Conservative Party.”

Running for the Green Party of Canada is the appropriately named Art Green, who along with O’Donnell is a Hope resident, said the Greens aren’t just looking at the next election cycle but seven generations down the road.

“We have to start doing things differently, what good is money if you don’t have clean air to breathe and water to drink.”

Green said the challenge for Greens in the federal election here in B.C is that a lot of federal Liberals are Green provincially. The Green platform, said Green, is about saving us all from extinction. “We need a green transportation system and improved building standards, that’s where the real economy is.” Green stressed that the idea of environmental conservation was not socialism wrapped in a green cover. “We’re not socialist at all, we’re actually fiscal conservatives,” he said.

Liberal Party candidate Kelly Velonis took exception to the claim that federal Liberal voters vote Green provincially.

“I’ve never supported the Greens provincially, I was misquoted in a Chilliwack newspaper saying I thought the Greens had the best environmental policy, no, I said good, not best. As an MP and as a party we would work with all parties to put forward the best environmental plan.”

When asked if supporting a carbon tax runs contrary to the purchase of the TransCanada pipeline, Velonis replied, “We need to get our goods to market, and the Liberal Party has said we will take money from fossil fuels and put it into green energy. The fact is we would put thousands out of work if we shut off the oil now, and it would be detrimental to B.C/Alberta relations.”

Heather McQuillan, the NDP candidate for Chilliwack-Hope said she understands that the switch to green energy is scary for many businesses, especially those with big investments in agriculture equipment.

“The NDP will do a good, thorough job, and make sure to take care of those concerns through the transition to green energy.” Being from Saskatchewan originally McQuillan added that she wanted to do more to promote agriculture locally. As well, she wants to advocate for better healthcare (especially diagnostic and preventative medicine) and childcare.

The topics and questions of the night ranged from local crime to Hong Kong protestors. The opening question concerned affordable housing. Green said housing needs to be legislated as a fundamental human right, which the Greens would do, as well as providing 25,000 new housing units and funding for housing coops.

McQuillan said that the inequality between what people are paid and the cost of living is growing. The NDP, she said, would make sure the costs involved for a good level of living would be made more affordable.

Strahl said that the federal government needs to work with the province to deliver affordable housing as well as social housing, adding that it is always better to work with local communities to find solutions. The CPC, he said, will also investigate offshore money laundering that is driving up home prices, and extend mortgages from a max of 25 years to 30 years (which it has been in the past).

Bogunovic commented that we cannot build our way out of a housing crisis, as we are already building at capacity. The only way, he said, to reduce demand was to reduce immigration levels, which the PPC would do, taking immigration down from 360,000 annually to 150,000, with qualified immigrants getting priority.

Due to her late arrival O’Donnell was not able to answer the question.

Hope Standard