The six candidates in the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicloa presented their platforms and answered questions at a candidate forum in Summerland on Oct. 10.
The forum, at Centre Stage Theatre, was organized by the Summerland Chamber of Commerce. Around 200 people attended.
The questions covered topics including housing, international trade, climate change, oil pipelines, taxation, government spending and more.
Dan Albas, who is seeking re-election, has served as the Member of Parliament for the riding since 2011 and discussed his record in Ottawa.
“I will try to be as accessible as possible, as accountable as possible and to get results for you,” he said. “If you send me to Ottawa, I will continue to work hard.”
As for addressing federal finances, Albas said the Conservatives have a plan to have balanced budgets within five years.
“We cannot keep spending money we don’t have,” he said.
New Democratic Party candidate Joan Phillip, who has been involved in the Penticton Indian Band’s lands department for the past 20 years, spoke about the importance of supporting the environment, the land and the people.
She also spoke about the importance of having a fair taxation system.
Phillip said under the present system the wealthiest one per cent of the population have become richer while the poor have become poorer. Last year, revenues for the richest one per cent grew faster than for any other segment of the population, while taxes for the richest Canadians decreased.
“We need to even up the odds,” she said. “We need to increase the taxes paid by that one per cent.”
She added that the federal government needs to focus on clean industry for the future.
“Stop investing in dirty oil and start investing in green energy projects,” she said. “I don’t think we have to trade the economy for the environment.”
Libertarian Party candidate Jesse Reiger said his party would work to protect individual rights and freedoms, and to reduce government spending and borrowing.
“In our society today, our government borrows money without our consent,” he said.
He suggested improving Canada’s budget by selling crown corporations, including the CBC.
He added that some of the services provided by the government should be provided by the free market instead. Doing so would result in increased rights and freedoms for the public, he explained.
Mary Ann Murphy, the Liberal Party candidate, disagreed with Reiger’s approach.
“The Liberals are a party that believes in taking care of Canadians when they are in need,” she said.
She added that under the Liberal majority government in place during the past term, Canada is now enjoying the lowest unemployment rate in 40 years.
Green Party candidate Robert Mellalieu said wise spending is essential.
“I don’t have a problem with debt as long as we can service it,” he said, but added that he disagrees with the pipeline promoted by the federal Liberals. He described the pipeline as “a $14 billion boondoggle.”
“This is one of the worst investments I’ve seen,” he said. “We need to invest in Canada’s infrastructure.”
Allan Duncan of the People’s Party of Canada said his party believes in smaller government, resulting in more money for the public.
Duncan said at present, the interest paid on servicing Canada’s debt is $54 million a day.
“We have to address that debt as quickly and aggressively as possible,” he said.
He explained that the People’s Party of Canada has a plan to balance the budget within two years.
The party also plans to reduce income tax and abolish the carbon tax.
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