With the last of the all-candidates forums in the South Cariboo wrapping up on May 2 at the Interlakes Community Centre, candidates for the Cariboo-Chilcotin riding are winding up their campaigns in time for the provincial election on May 9.
Based on the past three weeks of campaigns, here’s how your candidates stack up.
Donna Barnett – BC Liberal Party
Barnett is the incumbent MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin riding looking to head to the provincial legislature for the third time. Barnett has a solid background in politics in the South Cariboo – mayor of 100 Mile House for 16 years. Barnett is the outgoing minister for rural development, a position created in October of 2016 and often cites her track record of fighting for people in the Cariboo Chilcotin and delivering on her promises – pointing to bringing back the ferry to Bella Coola and keeping laundry services in the hospitals as two major accomplishments.
Sally Watson – BC New Democratic Party
Watson is looking to take back the Cariboo-Chilcotin for the NDP, the party Barnett narrowly defeated in 2009. Watson is also no stranger to politics and is currently the Thompson-Nicola Regional District E Director, where she has served since 2002. Watson is campaigning for change, saying an NDP government would be working for the people. Based out of 70 Mile House, where she is currently a mail carrier, Watson points to having worked in a sawmill, as a tire shop owner and as a server as jobs that have allowed her to provide for her family.
Rita Giesbrecht – BC Green Party
Although the Greens have never taken the Cariboo-Chilcotin riding, Giesbrecht is hoping to change that with a platform that looks to “do things differently.” A former hairdresser, Giesbrecht has worked in a number of sectors, working with photographer Chris Harris to promote the area outside the region, as well as with the TRU sustainable agriculture program. Giesbrecht is also active in the South Cariboo community, co-founding the Anti Poverty Coaltion and chairing the board of the Cariboo Family Enrichment Centre.
Some of the Issues
The issue of jobs comes up early and often for people in the South Cariboo. See the story on A3 for a comprehensive overview of how the candidates weigh in.
With one of the highest populations of seniors in the north, 100 Mile House and the surrounding area have an aging population, so health care and seniors care feature prominently during all candidates forums. Barnett says more long-term care and health care is needed and her platform provides for that. Watson says the NDP will increase care aids to allow for aging in place. Giesbrecht says the Greens’ strategy is to work on housing, health care and income together and promises more investment and a rounded approach to wellness and health care.
Fracking has proved a derisive issue in past elections in the Cariboo-Chilcotin. Giesbrecht says a move away from the traditional fossil fuel industry is necessary and that we should phase into a clean energy age, while Watson says she has “concerns” about fracking, particularly in areas where dams are being constructed. Barnett says that while fracking will continue, with monitoring, the final decision will be left to scientists to determine whether it is safe.
Rural education is a topic near and dear to hearts in the Cariboo Chilcotin. Barnett and the Liberals have a rural education platform, with plans to revamp the per-student funding model. Both the NDP and the Greens promise to push more funding to education and look into different funding models for more remote schools.
The Cariboo-Chilcotin riding has a number of rural dwellers and for them, transportation is a huge issue. Barnett encourages people to come to her with ideas but says she needs buy-in from other levels of government. Watson says transportation to rural areas “requires careful thought” and will be looked into. Giesbrecht says that ride-sharing should be a “key component” for rural dwellers and deserves consideration.
The NDP platform is centred around working “for you” and making British Columbia more affordable. The campaign promises $10-a-day daycare, increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour and providing more funding to school districts and increasing apprenticeship and trade opportunities. The NDP are campaigning on the reduction and eventual elimination of MSP premiums, putting a freeze on hydro rates, and constructing 114,000 new rental, social and co-op homes over the next 10 years, while imposing a higher property tax on foreign buyers. They’ve also promised to create jobs by retrofitting public buildings, while lowering small business taxes and increase corporate taxes by 1 percent. For the full platform visit https://www.bcndp.ca/platform.
Distinguishing themselves as the only party that doesn’t accept donations from corporations or unions, the Green Party is campaigning on a promise of full participatory democracy. While the environment is the traditional Green Party calling card, the party is campaigning on a platform that it says meets environmental, social and fiscal standards. The party has a comprehensive education platform, promising increased funding for all levels. They also promise to support families and workers while shifting away from the fossil fuel industry and investing in innovation and agriculture. The Greens plan to overhaul the tax system, increasing taxes for corporations and higher earners while providing income-based housing grants. For the full platform visit http://www.bcgreens.ca/platform.
Campaigning on their strong credit rating and economic platform, the Liberal party is promising a “strong B.C.” and a “bright future.” Their platform promises a number of tax respites and credits including a home renovation credit, a first-time buyers program. The Liberals have the only platform that fully supports the Site C Hydro Dam and Kinder Morgan Pipeline. They’ve also promised to cut MSP premiums in half for lower income families, invest in the Chinese and Indian forest markets for lumber, increase the minimum wage by 50 cents an hour, as well as freeze personal income tax and phase out the PST for electricity on businesses. For the full platform visit https://www.bcliberals.com/platform/.