“We’re lucky. We have four strong, credible candidates.”
That was one comment heard following an all candidates forum held Thursday evening, Sept. 24, at Dutch Lake Community Centre in Clearwater.
All four candidates running to be the next Member of Parliament for the Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo riding attended.
Present were incumbent M.P. Cathy McLeod of the Conservatives, plus challengers Matt Greenwood of the Green Party, Liberal Steve Powrie, and Bill Sundhu of the New Democrats.
Speaking order for the introductory remarks was chosen by lot and Bill Sundhu led off.
“This will be one of the most important elections in our lifetimes,” he said. “It’s a battle for the soul of our country.”
Sundhu said he was born in Canada to an immigrant family. His father was disabled when he was 10 and his mother had to support the family with minimum wage jobs.
Despite these setbacks, he was able to go to university, become a lawyer, and eventually become a judge.
“I got a chance to get ahead because of a fair and generous Canada,” he said. “I couldn’t have done it today, after what Stephen Harper has been doing to this country.”
Steve Powrie said that many of the students he teaches at Thompson Rivers University come from Clearwater.
Despite his and other’s efforts, involvement by young people in politics is at an all-time low.
He described the behaviour of politicians in Ottawa as “synchronized head-bobbing.”
Powrie said people in power should remember the saying, “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”
Cathy McLeod said she wanted to focus on how her government and she had made a difference in local people’s lives.
“When Canfor shut down temporarily, I worked with mayor and council to help get the community through,” she said.
Other accomplishments included working with Yellowhead Community Services on violence against women, the skateboard park, Dutch Lake Community Centre (which she described as “absolutely a phenomenal facility) and helping to change rules at the federal end to get more doctors for rural areas.
Matt Greenwood said he had run for M.P. during the 2006 election when Stephen Harper was elected prime minister and he hoped that 2015 would be the election in which he was voted out.
One plank on the Green platform is the guaranteed annual income.
Canada presently spends about $80 billion per year on what he said the Fraser Institute describes as the “poverty industry” – welfare payments, old age security, special programs for the poor, and so on.
If we gave every adult in Canada $20,000 per year in a guaranteed annual income, plus $6,000 per year for each child, it would only cost $45 billion, he said.
“Even small “c” conservatives who are not happy with Stephen Harper can still vote on their principles by voting Green,” he said.
Barriere resident Carman Smith asked the candidates about the Softwood Lumber Agreement with the United States, which is due to expire.
Bill Sundhu felt the Conservative government has reduced Canadian sovereignty and lost 400,000 industrial jobs since taking power.
Canada needs a forest strategy, he said.
Steve Powrie compared the SLA to the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which would give China the power to sue for environmental reasons.
Canada has been active at the table in negotiating with the Americans on softwood lumber, said Cathy McLeod.
SLA expires next month but there will be no change for 12 months, she said.
Matt Greenwood said Canada won in court at every stage in the softwood lumber dispute, but then Stephen Harper gave in to the U.S.
The Green Party would try not to have such investor/state agreements, he said.