Live video: Columbia River–Revelstoke all candidates debate

Check out our live stream of the April 20 Columbia River–Revelstoke all candidates debate at the Revelstoke Community Centre.

Columbia River–Revelstoke candidates in the May 2017 provincial election. From left: Duncan MacLeod, independent; Gerry Taft, BC NDP; Justin Hooles, independent; Doug Clovechok, BC Liberals; Samson Boyer, BC Green Party. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer

We’re broadcasting the Columbia River–Revelstoke all candidates debate live from the Revelstoke Community Centre.

Pictured from left are candidates Doug Clovechok, BC Liberals; Samson Boyer, Green Party; Justin Hooles, independent; Gerry Taft, BC NDP; Duncan MacLeod, independent.

The moderator is Dr. Geoff Battersby.

We are doing some live blogging below the embedded video. Once it’s over, you can watch the complete video.

Our live blog started about a quarter of the way into the debate:

A question about mountain caribou management, and what the candidates’  views are.

Doug Clovechok said the Liberals will create an organization looking into it.

Duncan MacLeod said our adversarial nature of the caribou debate is not a helpful way of approaching the debate.

Gerry Taft said that evidence-based plans are needed. He said it was a habitat issue, saying that the issue has been neglected for the past 16 years. He said NDP would not “shuffle” the issue off to an external agency.

Question: What is your position on the future of the softwood lumber agreement with the US? 

Samson Boyer of the BC Greens said we need to consider B.C. workers, saying 45,000 jobs have been lost under the Liberals and NDP, and that raw log exports are going up. He said B.C. needs to reevaluate the issue and stand up for B.C. workers on the issue.

Doug Clovechok said 60,000 people work in the industry in B.C. Clovechok said US President Donald Trump’s protectionist statements are a concern. He said the B.C. Liberals will “fight” the Americans on the issue. He noted the government had focused on diversifying the export market, such as exports to Asia.

Duncan MacLeod (independent) said it is not something that can be solved at the provincial level. He said there is an adversarial political debate, and there is not a discussion about reasonable solutions. He said sending raw logs across the sea for processing in a country with lower environmental standards is “ludicrous.”

Gerry Taft (NDP) said the government had failed to negotiate a deal with the U.S. Taft said the NDP will use more wood in B.C., such as for building long-term care homes, public buildings and “getting serious” about secondary wood manufacturing. He said raw log exports have gone up by 5,000% under the current government. He also called for more community forests.

Justin Hooles (independent) said using more wood locally and tall wood building are opportunities to explore.

New question: How do you see healthcare evolving to meet the increasing needs of an aging population?

Doug Clovechok (BC Liberals) said a strong heath care system needs a strong economy. He said our health care system is one of the best in the country and the world. He said we’ve got to continue investing in health care.

Duncan MacLeod (independent) disagrees with Clovechok. He said we have great health care workers, but has experience living in Alberta, Ontario, Japan and South America, and that we shouldn’t wave a flag saying we’re the best in the world, because there is lots of room for improvement. “We have to start thinking about creative solutions,” he said, adding health care is one of our biggest cost.

Gerry Taft (BC NDP) said the NDP will eliminate MSP premiums, redo the paramedic service in a way that will treat paramedics more professionally. He said reducing the cost of prescription drugs, increasing travel subsidies and improving staffing at long-term care is a priority. He said we need to serve local food in local hospitals, and asked why we are shipping frozen “crap” from the Okanagan into local hospitals.

Justin Hooles (independent) said he’d like to improve home care so seniors can stay at home longer. Hooles said transportation in rural areas like Columbia River–Revelstoke needs to be improved.

Samson Boyer said that the cost of prescription drugs need to be reduced.

Question about poverty reduction, noting B.C. is the only province without a poverty reduction plan. What priorities does your government have around poverty reduction (paraphrase)?

Duncan MacLeod (independent) said working in education he sees the impact of poverty in his students. He said the Westminster model would lead to no progress one the issue.

Gerry Taft said the NDP has put forward five different poverty reduction legislation packages and the BC Liberals had voted it down. He said Revelstoke had done a lot of work on poverty reduction and liveable wages, commending the leadership role on the issues. He said homelessness, child protection are priorities.

Justin Hooles said the BC Liberals have shot down many ideas. He supported at $10 a day child care program, and an increase on welfare rates, saying $610 a month was too low. He said affordable housing is an issue that needs attention.

Samson Boyer said we shouldn’t have a working class that lives in poverty. The Green candidate said he’d like to trial a universal basic income in B.C., saying we could start with one community and trialling it there. He said the number of affordable housing units needs to be increased.

Doug Clovechok said the way out of poverty is a job and work. “To feel like they’re actually contributing to something.” He pointed to programs that attempt to get parents, many of them single mothers, off of welfare through education, and that a strong economy is a key part of the program.

Question: Rats! The question noted Revelstoke has a rat problem. In Alberta they have a rat control program. What are you going to do about rats?

Gerry Taft said there are rats in Victoria we need to get rid of. He said he’s phobic of rats. He said there are tools that could be used.

Justin Hooles (independent) said he’d help by taking local concerns to Victoria.

Samson Boyer said we need to fund and support local governments to find a proper strategy to deal with the issue.

Doug Clovechok said where he lives in Dutch Creek there is a pack rat problem. “My solution is two cats.” He said education and working with local government were solutions.

Question: How can government balance potential environmental costs agains economic benefits for projects like Site C Dam and LNG terminals? (paraphrase)

Justin Hooles said he wouldn’t turn back on Site C because it’s too far along. He would like to increase use of electric technology saying B.C. is exporting batteries used to power ferries overseas but not using them here.

Samson Boyer said Site C has cost $2 billion so far and it will cost $16 billion, saying we will not need the energy until 2035, and we’ll be selling the electricity at a deficit. He said the price of natural gas has plummeted and that we are taking a step backward by developing LNG.

Doug Clovechok said LNG is “alive and well” and the question is whether it is environmentally sound. He said the B.C. government’s “five conditions” will keep B.C. safe. “It’s about driving the economy forward” and protecting the economy, he said.

Duncan MacLeod said Site C is like the fast ferry scandal, saying Site C is “insane,” noting other jurisdictions like Washington state are taking down hydro dams, and that B.C. is going in the wrong direction.

Gerry Taft said that candidate Doug Clovechok had “spurted off” the BC Liberals’ job promises in the past election. “Our future is not going to be in fossil fuels.” He said the Kinder-Morgan pipeline would lead to an oil spill, “not if, but when.” He said Alaska and Washington state has better oil response plans, saying the current government’s slogans fall short.

Question: BC Hydro two-tier pricing system penalized people who heat using electricity with unreasonable rates. What is your party’s plan for electricity pricing. (paraphrase).

Doug Clovechok said B.C. pricing is the fifth lowest in North America and the third lowest in Canada.

Duncan MacLeod (independent) said pricing was unacceptable and that the cost of living in B.C. is too high.

Gerry Taft (BC NDP) said Site C has the possibility to bankrupt the province, and that we could lose our high credit rating over the project. He said the BC Hydro board is full of political appointees.

Justin Hooles said the province should stop taking dividends to BC Hydro. He said we don’t have a balanced budget, and that B.C.’s debt is increasing.

Rebuttals: Candidates are asked for their rebuttals to other candidates’ statements and criticisms. 

Justin Hooles (independent) said he has concerns about representation, saying the party system means MLAs vote along party lines and disregard their communities’ needs.

Samson Boyer (BC Green) said that the NDP is still accepting corporate and union donations, saying it was a contradiction.

Doug Clovechok said the NDP promise to eliminate the MSP would just mean it’s put onto your tax bill, and it would become a hidden tax, saying the NDP would create a $6.4 billion

Closing statements: 

Doug Clovechok said the economy is doing great and that’s because the BC Liberals have a plan.

Samson Boyer said he will listen to constituents’ concerns. He said that low voter turnout makes the Liberal government a government “for the few.”

Justin Hooles said he wants to be your voice in Victoria.

Gerry Taft (NDP) said the NDP plan is “fully costed” and it would be paid for by increasing corporate tax rates, and by increasing income taxes on people who make over $150,000. He said the BC Liberals focus on the wealthy. “B.C. is number one if you are wealthy and connected,” not if you’re an everyday person.

Duncan MacLeod said that he’s running a net zero campaign, and that we need campaign finance reform. “We need to restructure our democracy to make it representative and responsive.”

That’s it! Thanks for following our live webcast! Be sure to follow Revelstoke Mountaineer on Facebook for more live videos.