In order to give voters a chance to get to know their candidates in the 2021 federal election, Black Press reached out to each candidate with a list of questions concerning voter priorities.
The questions were taken from an Aug. 5 Angus Reid poll listing British Columbians’ top three priorities. Those priorities are: Environment / Climate Change: 45 per cent, Housing Affordability: 36 per cent and Coronavirus / COVID-19: 29 per cent.
The candidates have been sorted by alphabetical order, based on last name. They will rotate with each question.
This week’s question is: “What is one more issue that you think affects people in our riding?”
Some of the answers have been edited for brevity.
New Democratic Party – Rachel Blaney
One of the biggest issues in our constituency is reconciliation with Indigenous communities. I’ve seen a lot of amazing leadership in our riding of people coming together, Indigenous and non-Indigenous to work out agreements and figure out how we’re going to live together, work together, build business together in a positive way.
There has been a large reckoning in the last several months as we’ve found children buried outside of residential schools. A lot of people are wanting more investment and support in what the future of Canada will look like in this framework in understanding how bad the history of Canada was and how the history has created a reality today that we’re still trying to overcome. I think that will be an important one for this riding.
We worked really hard and were finally able to pass the Canadian form of UNDRIP. The next step of that legislation is to create a framework of how that’s going to work and what that’s going to mean. When we look at some of the challenges that we’re facing and how we build a more certain future for everyone, having that piece of legislation is going to be a key factor going forward in the next few years and it’s going to allow us to have a lot more consistency in the process. I’m looking forward to that. It’ll make everything a lot more clearer and it will allow a lot of our communities to come together in a better and stronger way. That’s going to take some serious work and advocacy on all levels of government.
I’m looking forward to building a Canada that we can be increasingly proud of because we are acknowledging and addressing the issues of the past, the issues and realities of today and finding a better pathway forward. I think a lot of Canadians want to see a pathway become clearer and I’m looking forward to making sure that we see those key things like addressing the fact that we are finding children, making sure that the resources are there that the Nations are asking for. And supports fro the communities that now have to live with the fact that those children were right there and so many Canadians did not know.
Then of course, making sure that Indigenous communities across Canada have the key factors of success, one of them being clean drinking water. Looking at the injustice that we see in so many processes in the federal system so that we can make our Canada a more fair Canada for everyone, and finally acknowledge some of the unfair practices that Indigenous communities have had to deal with for generations.
Conservative Party of Canada – Shelley Downey
The other one is our local economy. We need a strategy to defend and protect and also build our local economy. We have many influences that are coming from outside of the community and there are decisions being made in Ottawa that are having an impact on jobs here in the riding.
You probably see it right there in Campbell River how there is a ripple effect when jobs are taken away. We do need to make sure that the residents in this riding continue to have stable, reliable, secure employment and good, well paying jobs.
We know that our industries in Canada and in this riding operate at a very high level of compliance and consideration to the environment and we need to acknowledge that and not have Ottawa — the Liberals — making decisions, some of them have been supported by our local MP, that are having a detrimental effect on our local economy.
For me, I will continue to defend and stand up for the good paying jobs for the hard working men and women here in this North Island – Powell River riding.
Liberal Party of Canada – Jennifer Grenz
The collapse of Pacific Salmon is something that greatly affects people in this riding. So many of our industries are reliant on healthy salmon, our environment is reliant on a healthy salmon population, our forests are reliant on it for nourishment, our people rely on it for food security, and many of our industries. That is one of my biggest priorities, in terms of bringing a voice to Ottawa. Our salmon deserve a bigger voice than the message being brought by a member of the opposition. We need a seat at the table to be able to advocate for salmon recovery, climate mitigation and adaptation.
The message needs to get to Ottawa that the health of our community is often reliant on the health of the Salmon. As much as we need the salmon, the salmon also need us. We need local knowledge in addition to the science informing what we do about that moving forward.
One of the reasons I am running is the policy decisions made in Ottawa that clearly were not influenced by all of the voices within the region. Policy around aquaculture in particular. Aquaculture has been painted as only one aspect of what it is. Aquaculture is so much bigger. The policy around aquaculture has created uncertainty in the riding, and people don’t deserve that kind of uncertainty when they’re thinking about their jobs and their kids’ future.
This is a demonstration of why it’s so important to have a seat at the table in Ottawa. We need to ensure that science driven policy doesn’t forget the people. That is something I feel very passionately about. When policy decisions are made, we need to ensure there are supports in place for transition expected of industry. We need to be able to answer the ‘and then what?’ question that was forgotten with the policy around aquaculture.
Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada – Carla Neal
It’s the logging issue, which is at the top of people’s minds right now with Fairy Creek. There is only three per cent of old growth left. The idea that logging has to stop just because you can’t cut old growth, that’s not true at all. You can’t create a forest by planting trees. You can destroy a forest by cutting them down, but you can’t make a forest just by planting trees. There’s a lot of tree planting going on, but unless there’s a lot more than just tree planting, it’s not good enough.
The other thing is to stop raw log exports, that way we can sell more value-added lumber. I understand that logging is a major employer in the north island. I am not opposed to logging, but it has to be done sustainably.
Green Party of Canada – Jessica Wegg
One thing that affects a large portion of our constituency is Indigenous rights. We need to recognize our Indigenous brothers and sisters, their rights and their sovereignty. We need to appreciate that they are the knowledge keepers of this land. They are the caretakers of this land and we need to listen to their teachings, to listen to what they have to say.
We have to make sure that we’re all given the same access to government services and given the same right to live this life as one another. We need to recognize the UNDRIP principles and make sure that we’re following through with them.
Black Press has contacted the People’s Party of Canada and Maverick Party and is awaiting response. Because of the short campaign period, we have published the answers received by candidates so far, and will add any responses to this story as they come in.