By Dylan Hackett, News Editor
Last Monday, a ballot of MLA-hopefuls for the Coquitlam-Burke Mountain riding held court at the David Lam campus in an all-candidates debate hosted by the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce. The debate paralleled the televised leader’s debate, also taking place Monday night. Questions were presented to the candidates by a Chamber panel, as well as collected from the couple dozen audience members throughout the debate.
The candidates discussed issues that are assumed to shape the riding over the next four years, including transit projects, the future of the Riverview property, and health care.
Given the statistical prediction of the BC NDP forming government next week, many of the questions were directed at NDP policy plans or were crafted on the assumption of an Adrian Dix premiership, putting Chris Wilson, NDP hopeful, on the defensive.
“I have a strong proven track record in bringing positive change to our community,” Wilson opened, citing examples of the many non-profit groups and efforts he is a part of in the Tri-Cities area. “I think I have got the trust of the people I’ve represented.”
Wilson also noted his business and investment histories for the commerce-focused audience.
Douglas Horne, incumbent MLA, expressed a frustration with his own party’s attack ad focused campaign while answering a question about Christy Clark’s red-light running, the political headline that day, saying “We have to get politics out of the gutter.”
BC Conservative candidate, Shane Kennedy, reiterated in his opening address what he told The Other Press earlier this year, claiming “For too long, British Columbians have been trapped in the two-party system, with the Liberals on the far right and the NDP on the far left. With both parties committing to running a deficit, I guess our children will have to pay for it someday. I don’t see a difference between the two parties.”
Paul Geddes, BC Libertarian Party candidate and party vice president sat on the ideological fringe, not answering questions with political consequence in mind, just policy. While this approach was sincere, Geddes often tacked together absurd scenarios to exaggerate his opponent’s philosophies.
“Just imagine if the NDP were running restaurants in Vancouver. All the different groups would get together, the workers, the owners, the clients, and they would sit down and decide what kind of meals they would serve,” explained Geddes. “It would be horrible. Why would we want to do that with our education system and our health care system?”
Of the five candidates registered to appear on the May 14 ballot in the Coquitlam-Burke Mountain, the only absent member was the BC Green Party’s Ron Peters, who had a family matter to attend to. Peters attended two other evening debates in the riding last week.