The six candidates running in Kootenay-Columbia for the federal election were in attendance Tuesday for an All-Candidates Forum in Cranbrook to discuss their platforms and make their case for being the riding’s next Member of Parliament.
Hosted by JCI Kootenay at Cranbrook’s Key City Theatre, the six candidates each had three minutes to make opening statements and two minutes to make closing statements. Each of the candidates also had three minutes to answer a question from the moderator and two minutes each to rebuttal.
The randomized order saw Wayne Stetski of the New Democratic Party (NDP), Abra Brynne of the Green Party, Trev Miller of the Animal Protection Party, Rick Stewart of the People’s Party (PPC), Robin Goldbsury of the Liberal Party, and Rob Morrison of the Conservative Party share their opening statements.
Wayne Stetski said the NDP’s plan includes affordable housing, affordable childcare, free dental and free pharmacare coverage while attacking climate change and ensuring that there are jobs in the green energy sector.
“If you already live in Canada or you have moved to Canada, you have already won the lottery but we can make Canada even better and I really like the vision that the New Democratic Party has for building a better Canada.”
Abra Brynne said she has been raised in the Kootenays with a professional focus on food and agriculture. Her platform with the Green Party includes addressing the climate emergency with a 20-step action plan while looking for the riding to rely on its resources to support local business.
“In my time working and living here, I’ve recognized fully that our communities are best served when they’ve got vibrant and locally based business and non-profits that thrive and provide the services and the opportunities that we all need.”
From the Animal Protection Party, Trev Miller is focused on the climate emergency and not like other parties are suggesting. Miller’s platform includes strong measures for “systematic change” by replacing industries with sustainable alternatives that are in the best interests of all Canadians.
“We need to eliminate subsidies to destructive industries,” said Miller. “It’s time to take away tax money being used to prop up economically disastrously operations so we can spend it on our people and our future.”
Representing the newest federal party in Canada, Rick Stewart of the People’s Party of Canada noted his experience in the military in oil and gas, and with the B.C. Ministry of Forests. Stewart’s platform would push pipelines forward, end the country’s reliance on foreign oil, and focus on Canada’s natural resource and energy sectors at home and making them more independent.
“We can build more, we can do better in this country. Whatever it is we want to do, we can do,” said Stewart. “We don’t need to rely on any other nation to show us the way or any other outside organization.”
Running for the Liberal Party, Robin Goldsbury’s key focus is on “Kootenay vitality”, believing she can be the bold voice that stands up for softwood lumber, the Columbia River Treaty, transportation and health care issues, the resource industry, and on climate change.
“We need someone willing to go above and beyond, someone who has worked in those business trenches, who has creative, inclusive solutions, with the greatest capacity to stand up for us.”
Lastly, Rob Morrison made his opening statement at the forum. Representing the Conservatives, Morrison said he has ample experience internationally, being a Diplomat in Pakistan for Canada as well as the Chief Superintendent with the RCMP, and that he’s committed to job vitality and having people back at work.
“I am not going to talk about the other group, what they should have done, could have done, would have done, it’s about me, here is what I will do for you,” said Morrison. “It is time for accountability in Ottawa, it is time for leadership in the Kootenay-Columbia riding.”
Audio: Opening Statements – 2019 Cranbrook All-Candidates Forum
Following opening statements, the moderator began to pull pre-vetted questions and ask them of the candidates. A total of seven questions were asked of the candidates including what adults need to do change in their lifestyle in regards to the climate change crisis, how their tax policies affect youth and young families, and what the candidates are doing about health care supports for people with autism. The second round of questions asked how the candidates would make it easier for married couples to get their spouse to immigrate and join them in Canada, what their most important issue is in Kootenay-Columbia, their views on freedom of speech in Canada, what they would do to support the coal mines in the Elk Valley, and why their ties to the Kootenay-Columbia make them the best candidate.
Each of the candidates provided their unique responses to the questions asked, with most candidates offering their own rebuttals to each question.
In regards to tax policies, Brynne would like to see tax fairness to ensure a fair tax burden for all Canadians. Morrison said they would scrap the carbon tax, give a universal tax cut, and provide tax credits to the middle class. Goldsbury answered by saying they would help the middle class and focus on the wealthy. Stewart said that the government can only provide good service and that they should mostly leave Canadians at peace, while Miller would like to halt any expansion and slowly dismantle unsustainable industries to recuperate tax dollars. Stetski said small business taxes shouldn’t bear the tax burden and that the NDP would look to the $40 billion of taxable money off-shore that could help the economy.
On the question of what the most important issue in Kootenay-Columbia is to each candidate, Goldbsbury said its the vitality of the Kootenays and making sure families and young people thrive, Brynne said it’s work on the landscape to preserve and reduce the riding’s collective impact on the environment. Morrison believes it’s jobs and job security at the mills, mines, and energy sector, while Miller said it’s climate change and reinvestment into the local economy. Stetski believes it’s about Canada’s natural resources and keeping them at home, while Stewart believes it’s about phasing out supply management and bolster trade relationships with the United States.
The forum then began to come to a close as the candidates made their final remarks to those in attendance at the Key City Theatre. Some made final calls for votes and support while others reinforced their platform and campaign.
“I won by 282 votes in 2015, the Green Party was about 20,000 votes behind, the Liberal Party 13,000 votes behind, the Conservative Party will probably keep their same level of votes so if I lose 282 votes, this riding is going back to being blue,” said Wayne Stetski, amidst clapping and cheers, both for and against the NDP. “If you’re a progressive vote I need you standing beside me on October 21st.”
“Our children are calling us to take action and I truly believe that Mission Possible, our 20-step action plan is the strongest action plan on the climate,” said Abra Brynne of the Green Party. “We have a host of other issues that are part of our platform that are going to address needs across our communities but if we don’t have a liveable planet we can’t look our children in the eye and know that they will have the kind of life that we all enjoyed.”
Trev Miller reinforced his party’s plans around climate change with his final remarks.
“We need to change the way we think about our home and those we share it with and it won’t necessarily be easy, it does have to be quick,” said Miller. “The Animal Protection Party of Canada will strengthen Environment and Climate Change Canada legislatively and financially to review environmental issues and rapidly address them based on best available science and best practices.”
Rick Stewart closed for the PPC by saying that the Kootenay values he learned growing up will remain with him always.
“I will never change those values,” said Stewart. “I will always put you and Canada first and I urge you if you have any questions about the party to contact me or go online and check out our website.”
“We have an opportunity right now to vote for someone who is actually going to be sitting at that table, who can have a voice that’s in that room, not knocking at the door so I am going to ask you to do something really bold,” said Goldsbury in her closing remarks. “I’m going to ask you to vote for the candidate with strong strong ties to the Kootenay who will fight so hard for you, who will be sitting at that table. I’m going to ask you to vote Liberal.”
Rob Morrison closed off the All-Candidates Forum with his closing statement, noting that his international experience is important but it’s about the priorities of Kootenay-Columbia.
“Who will go to Ottawa and has the skills and the abilities to take what’s important for you people here back there so when I come back I have infrastructure funding, we have other additional things we can give to the people of Kootenay-Columbia. When you go to vote, that’s what I think is a primary thing, who can go to Ottawa and represent you and get what we need for Kootenay-Columbia?”
Audio: Closing Statements – 2019 Cranbrook All-Candidates Forum
Voters head to the polls on Monday, October 21, 2019, for the federal election, where the residents of Kootenay-Columbia will elect one of the six candidates to be their Member of Parliament, be it NDP, Conservative, Liberal, Green, PPC, or the Animal Protection Party of Canada.
Audio: Closing Statements – 2019 Cranbrook All-Candidates Forum