PG-Valemount Candidates go Toe-to-Toe on Site C, Healthcare, First Nations
Prince George, B.C. – Around two hundred people turned out to hear candidates in the Prince George-Valemount riding share their views on some of the hottest issues of the provincial election campaign at the Canfor Theatre at UNBC tonight.
Four-time Liberal incumbent Shirley Bond was clearly the most polished of the three. Green candidate Nan Kendy was spirited in her responses though she referred to her notes while answering nearly all the questions.
By far the quietist of the trio was NDP candidate Natalie Fletcher, battling a cold, and in most cases battling to be heard.
Moderator Dr. Gary Wilson, a political science instructor at UNBC, got things rolling by asking what investments the candidates parties would make to ensure effective health care delivery.
“Healthcare is a critical priority – especially outside the Lower Mainland,” noted Bond, adding it’s a file her government has taken seriously. “And the health care budget has more than doubled (starting with $8 billion in 2001) since we took office.”
“Then why haven’t seen the improvements then?” Fletcher fired back. “Well we have the leading health care outcomes in Canada Natalie,” replied Bond. “We have increased the budget, not that there isn’t work to be done. I agree with you.”
Kendy said the Greens would address the issue by “mitigating the causes, not the symptoms” of health problems.
She also promised a Green government would create a Ministry of Health and Addictions and base it on “successful solutions” coming out of some European countries.
On First Nations engagement, Kendy, again clutching her notes, promised the BC Greens would build constructive relationships with First Nations by “working alongside First Nations in all aspects of our economy – health, the environment and make them full partners.”
“It’s important (First Nations engagement) agreed Fletcher, adding “we’ve already committed to working with them in our education system.”
“There’s a good deal of work to be done,” added Bond. “And we need to do a better job to meet their health and education needs.”
She said her government has done some good work in the area though – most notably by providing them “relevant training opportunities. We’ve signed hundreds of economic agreements with First Nations.”
Bond also pointed out the BC Liberals have engaged successfully with First Nations in Valemount to ensure a new ski resort will be built there – the Valemount Glacier Destination.
On the Site C dam, Shirley Bond reiterated the Liberal Party’s plan to continue with its construction – something she noted has created 2,100 jobs in the Peace.
Fletcher on the other hand questioned the wisdom of the development noting “it won’t be an easy decision” to carry forward with if the NDP is elected.
Kendy countered “Site C is not viable” arguing it will “do a lot of damage to the Peace River Valley.”
She instead suggested a Green government would introduce “climate friendly technology” and “greener technologies” adding her party would “stop it.”
“Are you going to issue 2,100 pink slips then” replied Bond, arguing the dam will “secure clean energy for future generations.”