Provincial candidates debate in Kimberley

BC Liberal, Conservative, NDP candidates debate; Green candidate unable to attend

BC Liberal Doug Clovechok

BC Liberal Doug Clovechok

Part One

A rather sparse crowd attended the All Candidates Forum hosted by the Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday evening.

But those who did attend heard a wide-ranging discussion on the issues facing British Columbians, and perhaps gave undecided voters a nudge in one direction or the other.

There were only three candidates at the forum, though four are running in Columbia River Revelstoke. Green Party candidate Laurel Ralston was unable to attend, though a statement was read on her behalf.

The other candidates, Doug Clovechok, BC Liberals, Earl Olsen, Conservative Party, and Norm Macdonald, NDP, gave a brief introduction, then fielded questions.

Some were Kimberley-specific, such as support for the flume project.

Olsen admitted he wasn’t that familiar with the project but anything to do with improving a community, especially for health and safety, was something that should be supported. As MLA, he would fight for funding for the project, he said.

“I vote my beliefs and values, not my party,” Olsen said.

Macdonald said the flume was obviously in need of repair, and as the MLA for the area he had spoken to Ministers such as Shirley Bond and Ida Chong on the need to fund the project.

“In opposition you have to figure out ways to make government listen. In an NDP government, we can get funding for the project.”

He said he was surprised that Kimberley didn’t receive funding.

“I actually expected a pre-election announcement,” he said.

Clovechok said the announcement had nothing to do with pre-election spending. He said that since the BC Liberals came to power in 2001, Kimberley had received $13 million in government grants.

“All sorts of projects have been funded and none of that money is tied to this MLA. Bill Bennett got the money. The job of an MLA is to represent people, to put people in from of the money. That’s what an MLA does.”

Another local issue discussed was hazing deer.

Macdonald was in favour of changing the legislation preventing hazing, saying the province had to take a more active role in the issue of urban wildlife.

“In Kimberley you have a community with a plan that includes hazing. Banff and Canmore have used it and it worked.

“There has to be more resources from the province.”

Clovechok said that while wildlife was a problem for communities across the province, he did not believe hazing works.

“The dogs haze the deer out and then they come back. It doesn’t work,” he said. “You need education and enforcement and a plan. Plans come from sitting down and having dialogue, and frankly, culling is part of that.”

Olsen agreed with Clovechok on culling —he doesn’t believe it works either.

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“Is it safe to have this many deer? We have to live with them but the province is responsible for them, and needs to give the community guidelines.”

A more general question around the land transfer tax was asked —would any party support its cancellation.

“The Conservative party doesn’t like inhibitive taxes,” Olsen said. “It discourages people from coming into the market. It makes no sense. Like the carbon tax, it’s taking money out of the economy. Tax should be reasonable and fair across the board. We would work to clean that up.”

Macdonald said that while the land transfer tax was an unfair one, and not the only one, you can’t remove it without finding another source of revenue.

“To be honest, neither we, nor any other government, is going to remove it,” he said.

“We have a huge deficit, and all this debt is fiscally constraining.”

“It’s not often that I agree with Mr. Macdonald,” Clovechok said. “But no government will have the opportunity to get rid of that tax. We (BC Liberals) are the low tax party. We are gong to lower the tax on small business. All I hear from the NDP is tax, tax,tax, spend, spend, spend.”

See tomorrow’s Bulletin for more on the forum.