Q & A with Candidates
250News sent a series of 9 questions to each of the candidates running in the two Prince George ridings. The questions were emailed to the candidates on April 13th, with instructions that responses were to be received by a deadline of 1 p.m. on Friday April 21st.
Candidates were asked that if their responses included a funding component, that the source of that funding be identified.
Prince George – Valemount candidate Nan Kendy (Green) missed the deadline for responses.
250News will be posting the answers in a series, starting today, with the first two questions and the responses published in their entirety.
How do you propose to assist forest dependent communities to maintain their economic viability during these tenuous times for that industry?
Prince George- Valemount:
Liberal Candidate Shirley Bond :
Despite challenging times, the forest industry remains a critical part of British Columbia’s economy. Our plan is focused on innovation, diversification of our market partners and maximizing the use of fibre. With our new Wood Secretariat we will promote the growth of the value-added and specialty manufacturing sectors. We are also investing $150 million to rehabilitate and reforest damaged forest stands, creating hundreds of jobs in rural BC. Our goal is to find the highest value for the resource and maximize job creation opportunities. We will continue our efforts to promote tall wood building construction based on the work done here at the Wood Innovation and Design Centre. We will also continue to aggressively market British Columbia wood products with an ongoing focus in China, Japan, South Korea and now in India.
NDP Candidate Natalie Fletcher:
Forestry is vital to our region. Community after community has seen their mill shut down, taking good, family-supporting jobs with them. That’s been especially bad for smaller communities.
So I’m very happy to see a forward-looking forestry plan unveiled by John Horgan. We’re going to encourage more use of wood, using incentives for builders and requiring it in public-sector projects, like schools and in our plan to build 114,000 units of affordable housing. We’d make sure that we got the best use out of the logs coming out of the forest, and we’d make sure logs being exported are truly surplus to our needs, because we think that BC logs should create BC jobs.
We’ve lost 30,000 forestry jobs under the Liberals, and unemployment is trending up everywhere except the lower mainland. What’s worrying is the looming spectre of duties on softwood from the US – despite the fact that Christy Clark said in 2015 that her first call to Prime Minister Trudeau was to push him to get us a deal. On softwood, she’s said President Obama was the roadblock, and claims that Donald Trump will be better for a deal than the previous administration was; Mr. Trump this month has attacked Canada, leaving many to believe we’re in line for more punitive duties.
We think the government should have been working to prepare for these duties. Our plan to expand the use of wood in building in BC would limit the impact of a reduction in the US market. And we will work with the industry to expand and develop new markets.
Economic growth has been elusive except in Vancouver. While Christy Clark has been primarily focused on LNG – which ahs created no jobs – we would make sure that forestry got its due again.
Prince George – Mackenzie:
Green Candidate Hillary Crowley:
The Green Party will increase the capacity of the civil service and create a Natural Resource Board to oversee the management of our Natural Resources. We will move away from the model of short-term gain to ensure that our forests and natural resources are sustained for future generations. We need a model that doesn’t rely on Giant Companies whose main interest is to generate profits for themselves and their share-holders. It is essential that these companies do not provide their own oversight but instead the forests are monitored by independent overseers who are not in a conflict of interest. When saw mills are closed in small communities, the schools then close and the resilience of the community is lost. We must maintain the jobs in our local communities and not ship these jobs oversees together with the raw logs.
NDP Candidate Bobby Deepak:
I know forestry. I come from a forestry family. My roots are in forestry and I work closely with forest workers every single day. This is a deeply personal issue for me. That’s why I’m so proud of the BC NDP plan to bring jobs back to the forest industry. Unlike Christy Clark, John Horgan has actually worked in a mill – he’s worn a hard hat for real, not just as a prop in a photo-op. So he gets forestry.
Under the Liberals, in our region, we have lost thousands of direct and indirect forestry jobs that have vanished and the government’s own figures show that 150 mills have closed in BC. In Prince George alone we have lost 6 mills and 2 in Mackenzie and that’s not counting mills lost in Quesnel, Houston, Fort Nelson or other northern areas. We just lost a mill in Merritt last year. A BC NDP government would create jobs in forestry by requiring public buildings built with provincial money to be built with wood unless it’s not possible. Contrast that with the Liberal Wood First Act, which uses the word “may;” I work in contract law and that word “may” means that you don’t really have to do anything. As we have seen, Duchess Park Secondary School was not built with wood.
We’d use incentives to encourage the private sector to do the same, and we’d make sure we get the most out of our forests, making best use out of all wood being harvested. We also want to stop the raw log free-for-all. Under Christy Clark, nearly 6 million cubic metres have been exported, on average, in each of the past five years, That’s about 5,000 jobs worth of logs. We are going to make sure more of that wood is being used to create jobs here in BC.
Liberal Candidate Mike Morris:
We’ve done a good job over the past decade in diversifying our softwood markets and will continue to pursue opportunities in India and other overseas markets. We’re working with producers to develop innovative products such as biofuels and other by-products to reduce residue and waste. We’re working around the clock to find a solution to the softwood lumber agreement with the United States. We’re working hard to address the Spruce Beetle, Fir Beetle and the remnants of the pine beetle to mitigate damage to our midterm timber supplies. We’ve increased our silviculture and reforestation efforts to ensure a robust forest is available to future generations. In addition, we are looking at every opportunity to diversify the economic base in our communities through increased tourism and exploring how we can attract major new industries like petrochemical producers (plastics etc.)
If elected, would you support the continued construction of Site C ?
Liberal Candidate Shirley Bond:
I support the construction of Site C. It is the largest infrastructure project ever undertaken in our province and will generate clean, reliable power for decades to come. Most importantly it is a significant job creator, in fact more than 2000 people are currently working on the project, more than 80% are British Columbians. The project will contribute $3.2 billion dollars to our economy. It will also benefit BC businesses and agreements have been signed with local communities and First Nations who will receive resources and new opportunities for employment.
NDP Candidate Natalie Fletcher:
No one, except for connected Liberal insiders, has been able to say that Site C is needed. We would put it to the BC Utilities Commission to find out if its in the best interests of British Columbians.
The original estimates for Site C was about $6 billion. It’s now up to $9 billion and most independent experts think that price tag is too conservative.
Meanwhile, experts say that our energy needs are changing and that we can meet our energy needs through conservation, through maximizing our current infrastructure, and through innovation in renewables such as solar and wind power. That is our plan for energy, in a program called PowerBC.
And we think there are better ways to create jobs, like the 96,000 jobs we can create with our creative building plan, which will build schools, housing and other needed infrastructure.
Green Candidate Hilary Crowley:
No, I wouldn’t.
NDP Candidate Bobby Deepak:
If we’re going to spend $9+ billion dollars on a giant mega project, shouldn’t we know that it’s in the best interests of British Columbians? Would anyone think it was a good idea to spend the equivalent of 20 per cent of the annual provincial budget without a business case to show it’s a good idea? That’s what Christy Clark has done. We don’t know if Site C is needed, or if it’s the best way to generate the power we need for the future. So we would ask the independent BC Utilities Commission – experts, who understand the industry and are not hindered by partisan interests like current BC Hydro executives (like the chair of Hydro, who is literally riding the campaign bus with Christy Clark) to take a look at the project and determine if it’s the project that is best for BC. If Christy Clark thinks Site C is the best thing for BC, why is she afraid of letting the utilities commission examine it? Although British Columbians take the risk, we are being put into debt, and are at risk of having significantly higher Hydro costs because of the Project, still about 20% of the workers at Site C right now are out of Province and Christy Clark has opened the door for temporary foreign workers. I don’t think Christy Clark really cares for jobs for British Columbians, she made a political decision to build Site C because she could not point to job creation in northern BC (every region in BC lost jobs last year other than the lower mainland and southern Vancouver Island).
On the flip side, we think that if we need more power, we can do so – creating jobs in the process – by maximizing our underutilized power facilities and by investing in lower impact power generation facilities, such as solar and wind power. Our power plan – PowerBC – has been given positive reviews by independent experts.
Liberal Candidate Mike Morris:
With Bells and Whistles on!! Site “C” has been in the planning stages for decades and is finally coming to fruition. According to a report from Stat’s Canada back in 2014, BC’s population is estimated to grow by up to two million people over the next 25 years. We need to be prepared not only for the growth, but for the demands from technology, manufacturing and the resource sector. The Mayor of Vancouver is on record stating that his city will become 100% reliant on clean energy. All those electric vehicles, buses, trains etc. will need somewhere to plug in. We have to remember – because many don’t – that although wind and solar generation is becoming cheaper and more efficient, we still require firm power for the periods of time the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining. Site “C” will be foundational in the further development of wind and solar generated power in BC.
250News series will continue on Thursday, with two more questions and answers from the candidates.