On Thursday, September 26, 2019 the Kimberley Chamber of Commerce and the Kimberley Rotary Club co-hosted an all candidates forum at McKim Middle School in Kimberley, giving residents the opportunity to ask questions of the candidates for Kootenay-Columbia MP in the upcoming Federal Election.
The candidates for the Kootenay-Columbia riding include Wayne Stetski of the NDP, Robin Goldsbury of the Liberal Party, Abra Brynne of the Green Party, Rick Stewart of the People’s Party of Canada, Trev Miller of the Animal Protection Party and Rob Morrison of the Conservative party.
Each candidate was given three minutes to introduce themselves and their platforms to the audience, which was a full house in McKim’s theatre.
Some questions were directed to all of the candidates, while some were also directed to specific candidates. Each candidate had one minute to respond to group questions, with two minutes to respond to individual questions.
The forum concluded with a focus on Climate Change, where each candidate had four minutes to discuss the actions their party plans take with regards to climate change.
The first question, directed to all candidates was, as a national leader, how will you take responsibility for cultivating a respectful state of democracy and public dialogue in Canada?
Goldsbury, with the Liberal party, was the first to respond saying that inclusive collaboration is her main focus.
“As a former marketing manager at Burger King, we always had brainstorming sessions and nothing was a bad idea,” she said. “I believe it’s important to respectfully listen and respond to each idea. We want to hear from the people and it’s important to have that dialogue at all levels of government.”
Stetski, with the NDP party, says it’s the responsibility of the MP’s to make a better Canada through communication.
“On election night in 2015, I told my volunteers and staff that our main job is to provide non-partisan service. It’s the responsibility of an MP to make a better Canada through collaboration with other ministers to move forward,” Stetski said. “When I am in the House of Commons I am never heckling, that’s not how you move forward. You have to respect collaboration with one another.”
Morrison, with the Conservative party, was next to speak. He said that accountability, relationships and trust provide respectful dialogue.
“Accountability, relationships and trust – we’re lacking that in the Federal government,” he said. “No one wants to play together. I want to listen to people who are qualified, I’d rather listen to someone smarter than I am to get the results that we need.”
Miller, with the Animal Protection Party, said, “Canada’s collaboration policy is a mixed bag at best. We need to focus on the animals, justice, social issues. We are willing to work with any organic groups – many changes need to be implemented at all levels of government.”
Stewart, with the People’s Party, said he will support a private member’s bill with an oath of office for all MP’s.
“We need a sovereign and independent Canada,” he said.
Brynne, with the Green party, says her experience in a collaborative environment will help better communication in Canada.
“I was at the annual general meeting for the Kootenay Co-Op in Nelson where there are 14,000 members; we all deeply connected and listened to the diverse perspectives. I know this is possible [in government]. I will focus on policy advocacy, and opinions; to join, learn and collaborate with all levels of government; municipal, provincial, federal and first nations.”
The next question asked was, what are each party’s plans to include or engage with residents with regards to backcountry access for recreational vehicles or activities?
Morrison says that the approach is to “conserve, not reserve” with regards to animals and their habitats.
“It’s an issue in many areas with different species at risk and the Federal government isn’t doing enough to look into it. I believe we should conserve, not preserve, and that it can be rectified by relocation,” he said.
Miller says the animals and their habitats need protection.
“The backcountry is filled with individual species and animals who need our protection. We are in the midst of a very important time. We need to look at these industries differently, and protect future generations with the number one priority being to take care of it here (locally),” he said.
Goldsbury said, “it’s a tough issue, and I think we can find a balance between taking care of the species [at risk] and still being able to utilize the backcountry. We need to ensure we have a voice in Ottawa representing our perspective; we care about [both] access and animals.”
Brynne brought up a recent negotiation in the North Columbia Valley as an example and said, “there are legitimate wants and needs in the backcountry and I think we can bring all of those voices together through effective negotiation and understanding the priorities there.”
Stetski says that these areas are the responsibility of the province.
“There are a number of protections already in place. Other than national parks, these areas are the responsibility of the province. The NDP wants a 30 per cent protection on climate change, animals and plants. Protecting these areas is a provincial decision,” he said.
Stewart says it is the jurisdiction of the province as well, and says more input is required from people in the local areas.
“I think we can find a balance where we can enjoy these areas to the max and still conserve habitat – [we can do that] by focusing on low elevation areas,” he said.
The next question focused on midwifery and alternative care resources for women. Many of the candidates rolled their answers into their perspectives on healthcare in general. Other questions focused on the use of pesticides and whether they should be banned or not, dental care, and if the environmental crisis is a priority.
There will be two other candidate forums in Cranbrook on Monday, September 30 and Tuesday, October 1.
On Monday: Indigenous forum hosted by the Ktunaxa Nation Council gymnasium from 7-9 p.m. Moderated event will feature Kootenay-Columbia candidates from the four major parties and include opportunities for audience questions.
On Tuesday: All-Candidates Forum organized by Junior Chamber International Kootenays at the Key City Theatre from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. All seven Kootenay-Columbia Candidates will be present. Moderated event will feature anonymous questions from the audience.