By Fran Yanor / Legislative Reporter
With more undecided voters than usual in this election and one day until the polls close, the Goat caught up with all the Prince George-Valemount riding candidates to ask them a few last-minute questions.
Here are their responses:
What are the most important measures for economic recovery?
Shirley Bond (Incumbent – Liberal): “Immediate support for small business in British Columbia…like the elimination of the PST for a year (and) … eliminating the small business income tax. A fair tax commission would review all of the income taxes… to determine whether they need to be adjusted or even eliminated. A significant infrastructure program (that) creates jobs and also deals with much-needed improvements in things like hospitals, and housing, and transportation.”
Laura Parent (NDP): “Supporting our small businesses. Small businesses really make the backbone of our economy… particularly our tourism operators. That’s a huge issue in the Robson Valley, is keeping our tourism businesses afloat in the wake of COVID-19. We are doing things like… subsidies for businesses, cutting taxes… as well as, wage subsidies and other supports to keep people working.”
Mackenzie Kerr (BC Greens): “We have a lot of people out of (work) right now. It’s the perfect time to be retraining and transitioning to a new economy… and making sure that we’re putting ourselves on a new path forward and not just back to the status quo. The tourism industry and small businesses are at risk … and we need to make sure that they can survive the winter by helping them with rent. We also want to be supporting the tech sector, and the renewable energy sector, and entrepreneurs.”
Sean Robson (BC Libertarians): “Most important for economic recovery is reducing taxes so families and individuals have the capacity to spur the economy from the ground up.”
What are the most pressing issues locally?
Shirley Bond (Incumbent – Liberal): “Affordable housing. Looking at how we support people staying home in communities they love and want to live. The geothermal project… renewable independent power (and) how do we ensure that there are direct local benefits. Diversifying and strengthening the economy… energizing our smaller rural communities… like the bike park and the brewery. Those are tourism and recreation opportunities, but they also help grow the economy.”
Laura Parent (NDP): “Seniors care. Between Valemount and McBride, there’s only eight seniors beds for long term care. That is nowhere near the standard that it should be. Accessibility of those beds, as well as, the quality of them. Bandwidth and interconnectivity. My goal is to… ensure that we can connect this whole riding as it should have been done already.”
Mackenzie Kerr (BC Greens): “Job security, making sure that people are able to get food on the table for their families. I want to focus on a sustainable forest industry, because there’s a huge opportunity to make sure that things are happening in a sustainable way for long term jobs and not just short term profits.”
Sean Robson (BC Libertarians): “Most pressing… is the COVID restrictions that dampen the economy and amplify civil issues like overdoses, domestic violence, and suicides. I would deny government-owned infrastructure and buildings, or organizations funded by taxpayers, from mandating any protocols or restrictions and remove all COVID restrictions by government. It is the (right of) individuals, families, businesses, and organizations… to set their own policies… (as) they deem appropriate.”
What can you, as a local leader, do to minimize the spread of COVID-19?
Shirley Bond (Incumbent – Liberal): “Look at ways to deal with the pandemic, and post pandemic, in a non-partisan way. How do we work more constructively together? COVID caused us to do that. Our government would create a pandemic response committee (including Dr. Henry)… with all-party participation… to (plan)what do we do next. Follow the advice of Dr. Henry, and comply with the recommendations.”
Laura Parent (NDP): “Lead by example. We have to recognize the way we have done things has to shift a little bit, and making our own small personal sacrifices are a part of that. Practicing that kindness, compassion and courage. We get through (adversity) the best when we work together (and) are not divided.”
Mackenzie Kerr (BC Greens): “Make sure that we are stopping misinformation at the source. We have a lot of conspiracy theories online right now. Focus on getting the science out there and making sure that Dr. Bonnie Henry’s voice is being heard across the riding and people are taking it seriously.”
Sean Robson (BC Libertarians): “Minimizing the spread of a virus is very difficult. Government interference and action isn’t the answer. The best a person can do is to maintain a healthy level of hygiene, and then, only under certain circumstances and with a doctor’s recommendation, isolation may be appropriate. But not for the general population, and not if you are… asymptomatic.”
Is there anything you want to say to undecided voters?
Shirley Bond (Incumbent – Liberal): “These are unprecedented times in British Columbia. They call for strength, a track record, and a demonstrated work ethic. Who they vote for is their choice. Ultimately, the person who is elected needs to serve all of the constituents of Prince George-Valemount and I am very committed to doing that.”
Laura Parent (NDP): “First of all, it doesn’t matter really who you vote for, just get out and vote. We in British Columbia have democratic right… to have our voices heard. So take advantage of that. Really think about which party… (and) which candidate resonates with you the most. Think about the B.C. you want… the community that you want, and which party you think is best able to get you there.”
Mackenzie Kerr (BC Greens): “Vote for the party that is not mudslinging, the party that wants to do politics differently, and wants to bring our voices to the legislature. Green Party can do that. We don’t have whipped votes, we don’t heckle, we’re here for the people. It’s time to give the Green Party a chance to have more elected representatives so that we can bring some accountability to government.”
Sean Robson (BC Libertarians): “Economic recovery and prosperity will take as long as we decide it should. The path forward from here is up to us. Thank you everyone for your support.”
All answers are verbatim. Ellipses and parentheses were added for clarity and space constraints.
Fran Yanor, Local Journalism Initiative