Photo: Bob Zimmer presents his opening remarks while the other candidates look on at the Pomeory Hotel – Kimberley Molina/Energeticcity.ca
Nearly 100 residents attended Thursday night’s All Candidates Forum held in Fort St. John that dealt with topics ranging from the long-gun registry to health care to the legalization of marijuana.
One of the first questions asked in the debate centred on climate change and food sustainability, specifically in the Peace River region.
Liberal Party candidate Ben Levine said the Liberals have a plan to provide assistance to farmers, investing $80 million in a ‘buy local’ program and focusing on investments in clean energy resources.
Conservative Party candidate Bob Zimmer took a different approach, saying that even though the Conservatives take the environment seriously, they also take a realistic and balanced approach that does not sacrifice the economy.
NDP candidate Lois Boone said that climate change is a serious problem and discussed a policy to diminish its impact.
Boone also discussed her opposition to the proposed Site C dam, saying it would flood valuable arable land.
Green Party candidate Hilary Crowley said her party would implement a pollution tax and would then utilize the revenue from that tax to invest in clean energy sources.
Another question touched on the current high price of gas, which appears to only be rising, as oil rose to more than $112 a barrel, Thursday.
Zimmer said this region, in particular, benefits from high oil and gas prices, but he believes that gas prices should be tied to oil prices, increasing or decreases as the price of oil does. Levine countered his statement saying the high prices appear to be a form of price gouging, especially in this region.
Crowley said her party’s focus is on ensuring manufacturers make more fuel efficient vehicles and encouraging people to carpool.
With the fall of the current government, trust also became a major theme of the evening and how voters can trust each of the candidates and their party leaders. Although each candidate discussed their – and their party’s – past records, the representative of the newest political party, Jeremy Coté, appeared to win favour with the audience when he discussed the need for Members of Parliament be held accountable for their actions.
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Despite a few questions and comments specifically targeting party platforms, the debate remained relatively calm. The most noticeable contention was between the Liberal and Conservative candidates, but appeared mostly one-sided, with Levine bringing up the Conservatives’ spending record and the fact that it was the first government in Canadian history to be brought down on a contempt of parliament charge.
The forum comes less than two weeks before residents vote in the May 2 general election.
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