FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – All seven candidates vying for the Prince George- Peace River-Northern Rockies seat took part in a virtual forum on Wednesday.

The event was organized by local media outlets and the Fort St. John and District Chamber of Commerce. The issues addressed include jobs, the economy, the environment, reconciliation, foreign policy, and COVID-19/health care.

Each candidate had a minute to introduce themselves and their party, and 45 seconds to answer questions posed by residents and media. The question period was broken down into sections with a three-minute open debate at the end of each.

Candidates running for the Northeast B.C. seat are Amir Alavi (Liberal), Ryan Dyck (PPC), Phil Hewkin (Canada’s Fourth Front), David Jeffers (Maverick Party), Catharine Kendall (Green Party), Cory Grizz Longley (NDP), and incumbent Bob Zimmer (Conservative Party).

The 2021 Federal Election will be held on September 20th.

A full rundown of the questions and answers from each candidate can be viewed below but does not include the open debates. Unfortunately, the forum was plagued with technical issues throughout, resulting in Alavi and Hewkin not being able to answer questions until midway through the forum.

After September 20, what path does Canada taken managing COVID-19 and the pandemic? Do you believe in federal vaccine passports and federal vaccine mandates? Are those tickets out of this? Do we have better options? How do we balance our response to the pandemic?

Zimmer:Right the beginning of the crisis, we, as opposition fought for Canadians to have access to vaccines. The Liberal government was very slow in acquiring those vaccines, but now they’re available, and good thing for Canadians who choose to use them.

We do not support mandatory vaccinations, and support the right for you to make your own choices when it comes to vaccines. For those who are unvaccinated, we continue to believe in reasonable measures such as rapid testing to help protect everyone, especially the most vulnerable. We also need an internationally recognized travel document for Canadians who wish to travel abroad. Only the federal government can provide that document.

It is up to individual foreign governments to establish vaccination rules for travellers, and countries around the world are now requiring proof of vaccination to enter their country. This is simply about supporting Canadians who want to travel to those countries. For those concerned about the vaccine passport plans being put forward by the BC provincial government, I encourage you to contact Premier Horgan and your MLA to discuss these provincial plans.”

Longley: “Here’s what it is, I believe the question actually posed was, how do we balance our response? Well, how about we use science? How about we use kindness? How about we use the safety of our friends and our families, the people that we care about?

I actually had an opportunity last night to go out and have dinner with friends and it was so refreshing to walk into a place where I knew that everybody was already vaccinated. Everybody that was sitting in that place had shown their vaccine passport, which is a very simple thing to do and we had a fantastic time. And it was super easy to do. No one had to lose anything. No one lost their rights, which I don’t understand what is going on here.

None of this is mandated. It’s voluntary. you opt in or you choose to opt out. You have a choice, make that choice. And I will tell you right now that the NDP is firmly in approval of vaccinations and passports.”

Kendall: Every person in Canada is eligible to get vaccinated against COVID should do so for their own protection and for the protection of their community members. Canadians need to be literate in transmissible disease. And this time they’re not they’re becoming polarized on the topic.

Vaxxers’ versus ‘anti-vaxxers’ moving the issue into human rights debate. Creating mandatory legislation for vaccinations does not work as well as it states it will. Individuals with medical conditions religious and cultural convictions and those that live early and remotely will require flexibility. Canadians must become literate in transmissible, transmissible disease prevention. This is something that the Green Party is advocating for.

Yes, we agree that passports will be necessary and allow people to understand who’s covered and who’s not. But we need to understand that there are people that have not enough information, making their own choices. But as we were discussing just a few minutes ago, that when you walk into a restaurant, you’ll want to know that people are covered. And this is the only way that we’ll be able to do that.”

Dyck: “The government has misled the public on a number of issues. One of them is lovely Justin Trudeau and his ideas that if somebody doesn’t get vaccinated, it’s risking his children’s life. Okay, so in BC, we have had zero deaths between 12 and 19, in 18 months.

We’ve had two deaths that were COVID-related, not necessarily because of COVID. In between zero and 19, in the last 18 months in the province of BC. It’s not dangerous to youth.

I just spoke to somebody and they were saying that some teachers were deeply concerned because they just had a meeting that they were talking about allowing children five to 12 to make their own choice on vaccination. You think we were going to end with 12 to 19? No, it’s going to keep going and unless we put an end to this, it’s going to be worse yet. It’s not stopping here unless we put an end to it.


What is your party’s plan to address the crisis level nursing shortage in northern communities? Will you partner with local members of the BCNU to implement these changes?

Longley: “What the NDP plans, what I specifically planned for this region, because we all know health is considered a provincial thing. But you could still do stuff federally, right, which are previously sitting MP did not do.

What we can do is ensure that there’s proper education and that the kids that are training here want to stay here. So, what we do is we take the debt that they take on from student loan because they shouldn’t have to be burden by that, we remove it.

We train our nurses here in Dawson Creek at the Northern Lights College, and hopefully those people will see what a loving and awesome community
and a great place the north is and they’ll want to stay.
That’s only one part of our plan.

We also plan to do all kinds of financial assistance and incentives for physicians and other professionals.”

Jeffers:Nurses are incredibly important in our community, as are all health workers. And right now we’re facing a very difficult position where the vaccination and overreach of government is going to force these people either off the job or to have alternatives to what they want to do through coercion.

The first thing to do is to lift that mandatory vaccination portion of it. But, we’ve also got to support the nurses in terms of education, bringing more people to the front. The latest chapter in unveiling our nurses schooling in Fort St. John or in this region is fantastic. It’s a great step in the right direction, but we need to do a lot more in order to support healthcare and draw healthcare workers into that space.

Our seniors are at risk, especially when we’re short handed, we have closures happening right now. We need to draw more people into the space for sure.”

Zimmer: “Absolutely, we need to do everything we can to support our health care workers and frontline workers, especially during the COVID crisis. We’ve seen mental health challenges across the board, and we need to help where we absolutely can. Our plan is to inject $60 billion over the next 10 years into our health care system, nationally. That’s above and beyond what’s already been committed. We believe that this will take away some of the stresses that are in the healthcare system currently. And we need to support our workers in the best way we can. They deserve our best.”

Kendall: ” The Green Party will remove the barrier of educational costs so that any students passing High School and interested in following up with either a college diploma in nursing or a university degree to be a doctor will not have to bear the burden of the costs for them. And then creating the incentives to advocate for the healthcare system and the healthcare services to be made a priority to be funded and well-staffed so that we are not experiencing any shortages as we move forward in the future.”

Dyck: The People’s Party of Canada will replace Canada Health transfer, cash payments, with permanent transfer of tax points of equal or equivalent value to the provinces and territories to give them stable source of revenue.

In practice, Ottawa will give up its goods and service tax, and let provincial territorial governments occupy this fiscal room. It will establish a temporary program to compensate poor provinces whose revenue from the tax will be lower than the transfer payments and create the conditions for provincial and territorial governments to innovate.

They will first be fully responsible for health care funding and management and fully agree accountable to their citizens for the results, while Ottawa will respect the Constitution.

The NDP and the liberals pledged to criminalize protesters that block hospitals or harass health workers, with demonstrations at hospitals happening across the country. We’ve gone from frontline workers being heroes to now protesting in front of hospitals. What are your thoughts on these protests? And should we have a penalty on people protesting in front of hospitals?

Jeffers: “Protests are an extremely important part in order to get our point across, but stopping people from getting health services is absolutely wrong. It’s the same thing that happens when somebody stops somebody from trying to get to work.  Protest at your government offices protests in is the safe spots in parks wherever, but don’t hinder anybody’s ability to obtain health care or feed their family or obstruct them from getting to their office or to their job. Protests are important, but do it appropriately.”

Kendall: ” I support any individual that’s willing to move forward with a protest on an issue that they feel is important to them, but not at the risk of others. I don’t believe that the hospital is a location for any type of protest in this means. I go back to my statement that Canadians must be much more literate in transmissible disease prevention. I believe if we provide this care centre so that people understand how it is that these diseases are transmissible, people will better understand that in high stress environments where multiple people are coming together are becoming incubator locations, and so we need to educate people about that.”

Dyck: I think that protesting is a necessary part of society and it’s our right to protest things that we are concerned about. I do agree that protesting at a hospital is not productive. There was a lot of news media that was saying that it was violent and rude. The ones that I have been at, I would have challenged that if I had seen that. The first protest that I attended was specifically a number of nurses who requested people to come to support them. And I went and supported them and they felt genuinely cared for. And this was in the city centre in Fort St. John. So I agree. Hospitals are not a good location for it, but it’s a necessary part of being able to be heard.”

Longley: “I can’t believe that you, Ryan, actually went to one of these protests at a hospital. Shame, sir. That is not cool.

90% of HEU nurses in this province are vaccinated because they understand they’re looking after us. They’re not there to put us in danger. And the people that decided to get in front of those ambulances, shame, that’s all it is, smarten up.

Here’s one thing that Ryan won’t talk about right now. We just had a baby that died in Cranbrook, a newborn, mother is still in the ICU. This is what happens when we deny what is actually going on. I’m not even saying denying the science. All you have to do is phone the hospital and ask them how many ICU beds they have. It’s not rocket science.”

Zimmer: “Now to answer the first part of the question. It was dealing with the protests. So, I just wanted to respond that it’s part of section two of the constitution the right for us to have peaceful protests. But, I think the key is peaceful. I think what’s sad about the situation is the health care workers are kind of a pawn in the middle of this discussion or about a policy decision that was made. I just respect our frontline workers immensely. I think they’re the last ones that we should be criticizing in this case. I admire their work, whether it’s a nurse, doctor, or a lab tech, I appreciate all what they’ve done in this last 18 months. It’s been a lot of work, and we appreciate that.”

How would your party and government improve connectivity for everybody here in the region?

Jeffers: “It’s a very complex one; connectivity. As you can see, I’m sitting in my truck on the top of a hill just so that I can participate in this forum in a meaningful way without losing connectivity.

Working from home, as we’ve all seen during the COVID pandemic, has become an option for a lot of us and in communities like we have in many regions in this area; northeast BC. Connectivity is going to be a crucial part of the job platforms going forward and we can actually bolster communities by having better connectivity. So, that’s a primary goal.

The second part of that is the carbon tax is going to hinder and Cory was absolutely right, profits are crucial when it comes to that because energy companies that develop research and advancements in gree
n and alternative energies are crucial. And those monies are badly needed to develop the next stage, which they drastically want to be a part of. So yes, revenues though, in government, come from tax.”

Kendall: The Green Party will establish a universal broadband strategy to give Canadians across the country and remote areas access to reliable internet. Living in the rural region, I understand the use of broadband high-speed internet and how valuable it can be. And it can allow any one of us who lives in the north to be able to actually establish a business from home.

And this is another piece of broadening the opportunities for home-based economy and economy across the northern regions. A green government will proceed with regulating the powerful platforms and streaming services through the CRTC as envisioned in Bill c-10. Ensure that the CRTC reserves more broad bandwidth for independent and nonprofit stations, and so that the CRTC maintains and updates their Canadian content, regulations and definitions.”

Longley: “This is a really simple one. We’ve had an MP that was sitting there for 10 years and he could have done something about this because this falls under the federal purview. When you have the CRTC regulating the public airwaves that we all own in this country, it’s a simple thing to lobby, and you know who’s doing the lobbying right now? Telus, Shaw, all of the big companies, they’re having beers with the chair of the CRTC right now.

What that should be, and you can ask Adam Reaburn about this, community radio is where it’s at. Licenses should be easier to get for people who want it. All we have to do is tell those companies, as a federal government, you will do this, this is regulated this entire industry. And the government could have done it sooner. We’re in a pandemic, the kids need to use the internet to go to school and as Dave was saying, it’s the future of jobs.”

Zimmer: “This gives me the opportunity to speak about the work that actually I have been doing in Fort Nelson and through the Pine Pass and getting high-speed internet access, whether it be Mackenzie to Powder King, up the highway 911 service, we’ve already done a lot of work. And a lot of those yellow pipes that you see when you come to Prince George is exactly that. It’s getting that high speed internet to those rural communities and that’s happening right now.

That said, there’s a lot that still needs to be done. We have a plan to get rural internet access across Canada by 2025 in the next four years. So we have a plan. We’ve been working hard on it already. We have a ways to go. But again, we have a plan to get there.”

Alavi: “The plan that we have right now with the Liberal Party is, by 2026, 98% of all Canadians will be connected to high speed internet. But let me tell you something, if you really want the government to see the force and get things done, I have a suggestion. You can actually put this as, because having access to internet is very crucial at this point, we really learned this through pandemics that we have. So if we actually put this as a right as a human right then whoever doesn’t have that access can actually sue the government. “

Dyck: Yeah, it’s very valuable for all Canadians. I think the to make it a part of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a little extreme. Honestly, I’m I do greatly appreciate what Bob is has been doing in that field and I think we need to work on doing politics in a way that we can actually acknowledge the successes of other members of parliament.

*Dyck’s response was interrupted by a technical issue

Would you reduce the debt and thus reduce the rate of inflation that is currently crushing the Canadian middle class?

Longley: “The NDP has promised anybody that’s making over $10 million a year is going to pay the inheritance tax. And that’s important. To make that kind of money in this country, you get to play in our game. So that means that you should have to play by the rules and you should pay fairly. Every single person in here pays their taxes. Why should a company like Amazon be any different? Why should they get away with paying zero tax? They should not. And you’re absolutely right, Emily, politicians should be making hard decisions. We haven’t seen it with the liberals. We haven’t seen it with the conservatives. The NDP are going to make those hard choices. And those hard choices are going to make us all better, because we’re going to be able to afford the things that we need.”

Jeffers: “We’re printing, right now, $424 million a day that is going to drive inflation up, we’re gonna see interest rates rise. Because of that, we have non-commitals from our current parties. Even the Conservative Party plans to balance a budget in 10 years. Tell me what you’re going to do this term? It’s avoiding the obvious accountability. The other part of that you mentioned is the seniors. Now, if we get rid of equalization payments, there’s a $20 billion flow that’s going to go from the west to the east this year, alone. 13.2 billion of it is going to go to Quebec. We can do a lot with that to look after our seniors to lower medications, cost of medications for them, can provide better care. Infuse a lot more money into that from equalization. Equalization has got to go.”

Zimmer: “I think what’s key to this whole discussion is really seeing our economy getting back on its feet again.We saw in 2011 to 2015, when we formed a majority that we saw, Western Canada and the energy sector, performing at its best. Forestry was doing well, we had a softwood lumber agreement. We had mines across the country, they were operating also while doing it environmentally responsibly. That is the way we’re going to unleash our economy, and we’re going to pay for things as some of the other candidates mentioned. That’s why we see our opportunity. Canadians don’t need to be given handouts, they would rather have paychecks. As my colleague Pierre Poilievre said many times, we need to get our economy going. And that’s the key to our success.”

(GIVEN EXTRA TIME DUE TO TECHNICAL ERRORS) Hewkin: “I am here because I represent direct democracy in Canada. We do not have that we have top-down government, and it’s not working. It’s failing extremely badly. To the point where Canada’s entire politics resembled China’s more than Canada’s, I believe this is what Justin Trudeau meant by his great reset.

He wanted to recreate Canada in the Chinese image. And I think that’s what’s going on. And I would like to say, I was at the hospital, I wanted to go see what all the buzz was about. There was a lot of people there. And I’m very well known. And I know a lot of people in this Prince George area. Half the people at that protest in front of the hospital, worked in the hospital. Doctors, nurses, people on cleaning staff, I know them, it’s a fact. And no one was blocking anyone’s entrance to the entrance of the hospital. Anybody who says that needs to shake their head hard, and shake the nonsense out. Because you’ve been brainwashed by the media who wants you to believe that narrative.

Do people have a right to vote on everything? Are you tired of being treated like a child and being lied to on the evening news, every night for as long as you’ve been alive?  Do you want to see this till the end of time? What I recommend to you is get on board with direct democracy, you get to vote on every issue that affects your life and your vote counts. I would be your MP in Ottawa, if so elected, I would stand for your vote and I’m not th
ere for the money.

I pledged 50% of my MP salary to any charity or society. Within my riding gets to vote which charity or society gets that money. I don’t see anybody else pledging anything like that here.

If you care about this country, step up, but let’s see it. I’m doing it. And I’m doing it for the right reason; for my children and grandchildren. We don’t need vaccine tyranny here. Liberals love to talk about division. We have division like you wouldn’t believe caused by liberals. They scare the hell out of our children with Doomsday prophecies about climate emergencies. This stuff is insanity.

They don’t know how to fix a real problem. So, they create phony problems. And I can prove that the carbon tax is based upon a fraud that is based upon agenda 2019 to 2030. It is so provable, anybody who backs it doesn’t care about the environment. They don’t care about pollution, they don’t care about the emissions. They care about getting the green out of your wallet. I’ve got the trains shaking my house every night loaded of coal headed for China. One trip, one way. And that exceeds Canada’s total limits for the year. So I say to you, go online, go to CFFdirect or fourth Check it out. Vote on issues that you care about. Okay, your vote will count and if you don’t think I’m doing a good job, kick me out.”

Kendall: The Green Party will impose fair taxation, recognizing that the burden of taxation is not fairly distributed in Canada. Applying corporate taxes on transnational e-commerce. Imposing a financial transaction tax of 0.5% in the financial section sector, as France has done in 2012. Increase federal corporate taxes from 15 to 21%. To bring it in line with theUnited States, our largest trading partner. Our former governor of the Bank of Canada, states that are holding hundreds of millions of dollars in their bank accounts. And rather than reinvested in them, we need to see these dollars of investing into the green renewable economy.”

Longley: ” The funny thing is they are all talking about these numbers like there’s no pandemic on, right? When you look at the actual largest amount of money being spent by any government at any time, it would have been the Harper government. That’s where our actual deficit comes from.

So, we’re in the middle of a pandemic, we have to pay for things, we understand, right? Health care has to be paid for. Ordering ppe out of country because of decisions the liberals made. Buying vaccines, because of decisions that conservatives made.

We could have had Connaught labs here, they decided to sell that off. Think about that. The NDP commits to making sure that all of our health care products and things like that are produced in this country that are produced by Canadian workers who are well paid.

(GIVEN EXTRA TIME DUE TO TECHNICAL ERRORS) Alavi: “I just want to make sure I’m on the right side of the COVID situation. So with the COVID response, I believe that we have to just get things done with this pandemic. Make sure that we push with the vaccination as much as we can. Point is, when people are talking about mandating, they’re scaremongering people. You’re just cornered to make only one decision and that’s to be vaccinated, which is not the case. The point is, we’re travelling, getting on the train, getting on the airplane, going to the restaurant and some of this actually is made by the provincial government. So, it’s not just the federal government and the Liberal Party that we’re talking about. Point is, that we want to make sure that you’re not transmitting the virus with yourself. So, that’s number one.

On job recovery, go and read yourself. The Liberal Party had 92% of job recovery, the closest country to Canada, at that point, is the United States with 73%. So, that’s with the job recovery is.

Another question, regarding nursing crisis and the shortage of staff, the liberal platform provides a path for hiring 7500 more health care workers. We need to have proper local training and incentives for people to actually stay. Another thing is that for that process, we need to make sure that the interest is actually taken out of the student loan, that’s also part of the liberal platform.  The other thing is, that when we’re talking about the frontline workers in the health care industry, what we have to focus on is that the last thing that we want them to be worried about is that their crew is not vaccinated with themselves. So in that way, at least they know that they can actually focus on their job, focus on getting things done for community. Just on communities like ours, we have a $2.2 billion for short emergency fund for health care workers, as well as part of our plan.

The question was criminalizing the protests. I’m 100% okay with freedom of speech.  Quite frankly, I don’t believe that some of the ministry of truth path that so many of our technology companies are going forward. I can’t wrap my head around that. and I believe that at some point we have to address this. Protesting in front of hospitals and the essential workers, I don’t think that would be the best decision making and the best way to publicize your message. So, it’s just counter effective, let’s say.

Regarding the internet connectivity, I have already answered this; servicing debt. It’s a very important issue. But I want to give you an analogy here. If you’re a father, and you’re the breadwinner in your house, and you have one kid who’s doing very well, and is doing perfect and has his own room. And then another kid is sleeping on the balcony. And someone said, ‘Hey, you got to do something about it’ and you say, I want to be fiscally responsible. They’re gonna do something about the kid, they’re gonna either remove the kid from your household or just kind of say, you got to show yourself to a psychologist. So, I don’t think that focusing on the issue of making sure that everyone pays their fair share and at the same time, bringing more government help is a crazy idea when we have a part of our community that’s just sleeping on the streets. And we are all forgetting about that. “

Dyck: “The People’s Party of Canada is the only party that has talked about balancing the budget within one mandate. We plan on cutting a number of ridiculous spending issues. We’re going to phase out all COVID spending programs and reverse new spending programs announced by the Trudeau government They’ll get rid of the deficit by the end of the first mandate through fiscal prudence and spending cuts, including corporate welfare, five to 10 billion, foreign development aid, five billion, CBC, one billion, equalization payments and funding for programs, which are provincial and municipal responsibilities. Stop using our tax system for political ends and make it simpler and fairer.”

Kendall: “So back to the point that the greens recognize that the burden of taxation is not fairly distributed in Canada. So this is where we would like to focus.

What are some examples of projects that are going to re-stimulate the economy and provide meaningful jobs in the region?

Zimmer: “We have so much potential here, whether it be from Fort Nelson, lot of natural gas up there albeit dry.  We have the timber basket now is, basically, north of Prince George. So, we have forestry potential in our north as well. But what’s really unrealized is the potential of our natural gas sector, not just in terms of the economy, we’re starting to see that with LNG Canada, and it’s going very well right now, the construction, they’re about midway, just about achieving their peak construction. But to r
eally get our natural gas to the world to reduce emissions. Not only is that going to help Canada’s economy, but it’s really going to do good for the environment to the globe. So the potential is there, we just need to see it done.”

Alavi: “Our riding is resource based writing and one of the best ways that we can actually make sure that our economy is moving toward a more greener economy, and at the same time, we’re providing support for people to have that transition without any hurdles, is we can actually focus on agriculture a lot. Now, food Security is one of the biggest topics here and if we can actually focus on the food supply chain, we can provide Canada with the highest dominance, let’s say, on the food security,  globally. The Liberal Party will provide the ocean wave support. Right now, the Conservatives are planning to get rid of it and that’s also part of the food supply chain that I was talking about.”

Dyck: “People’s Party of Canada will counter anti-oil and anti-pipeline propaganda, radical environmentalists, and foreign foundations. They will repeal bill c-48, will repeal bill c-69. Approved pipeline projects using a streamlined process. Find a private buyer for trans mountain. Reassert federal jurisdiction over pipe action by invoking section 9210 of our Constitution, whereby Parliament can declare any project to be for the general advantage of Canada. Work with industry and with our American partners to possibly revive cancelled projects and keep line five in operation.”

Hewkin: “Canada should have the most powerful and overwhelming economy of any country in the world. We should be paving our streets with gold. If only government would get their knee off our necks. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, whether it’s lumber, whether it’s farming, whether it’s gas and oil, the red tape will tie you up like an Egyptian mummy. The red tape is ridiculous. It’s endless. Doesn’t matter if you’re trying to buy a house. If you’re trying to move a house, a friend of mine recently bought a fabricated home, and he had to pay something like $20,000 just for the red tape nonsense related to that. This is craziness. And it doesn’t matter what industry you’re in.”

Kendall: “The Greens would like to accelerate a transition to a net-zero economy and become a world leader in clean tech and renewable energy. We have the potential to do that. We just need to put science ahead of us so that we can maintain this goal. The jobs of the future are here. We can say globally competitive and build a prosperous, sustainable future through these means. We can ramp up agriculture so that we can feed ourselves and not be concerned about climate crisis around the globe that hinders transportation routes to get food to our tables, especially in the rural North. So, making sure we’ve got whatever means we need in our particular areas to grow. Holland is a great example. The smallest country provides most of the food and export. Perfect example.”

Longley: “Bob likes to mention pipelines. Well, the Trudeau government bought one for them for Christmas. So, that was great. We have this pipeline that’s going to be useless in about five years because we won’t be able to sell the junk. So whatever, let’s just not even focus on that. You have to take your head out of the sand. We know that gas and oil is something that’s going out. It’s not going to be around anymore. When we have wind, the best thing to do is build a sail because that’s how you take advantage of the environment around you. If we keep causing problems for the planet and making things dirty and gross, t won’t matter how much money these giant companies are going to make because we’ll all be dead. We need to do a fair transition. As Catherine says, we need to concentrate and protect our planet.”

*Jeffers experienced tech issues.

The federal government is giving $5.2 billion to the muskrat falls dam being built in new Finland. It’s suffering a lot of setbacks and cost overruns. It’s doubled in cost from 7.4 billion to 13.1 billion, I believe that last count. The safety dam being built here just outside of Fort St. John is facing similar problems and has doubled in cost from 8 billion to 16 billion. Should the federal government fund Site C? Do you see a role for the federal government in that at all?

Jeffers: “There’s a lot of overreach here and a lot of things that have gone sideways when it comes to that. And you’ll find that a lot of people that are advocating for the electric vehicles and a revamp are also the ones that are fighting Site C, you can’t have it both ways. And Site C, I’m not going to address New Brunswick because I have a  limited amount of time. But in terms of Site C, it’s a responsible way to generate energy, but in the energy demand that’s coming up, that’s only part of the equation. The rest of it, and Cory is absolutely dead wrong, in regards to oil and gas, the demand is actually going to go up and continue to go up over 40 years. If Canada negates that space or gets out of that space. It’ll be filled by those.”

Zimmer: “No.”

Dyck: “I’d actually definitely agree with Bob on that. I think taking a ridiculous project that has been horribly managed and ended up way over cost and giving them more finances is an unproductive way of handling mismanaged product projects.”

Alavi: “I think Site C is a provincial matter. I know that. There has been a lot of conflict around this. Not enough consultation with our brothers and sisters of Indigenous people was made. But at the same time, I think if the question is, should the federal government fund this, as long as the provincial government is not willing to clean up the mess? I don’t think so.”

Longley: Yeah, the answer to this one’s pretty simple. The federal government should not be paying for Site C. We had this project pushed past the limit of no return by previous BC Liberal Christy Clark and unfortunately the BC NDP is doing the best they can with this project that has been mismanaged from day one. There should be no more federal money or any extra money put into this project as far as the NDP is concerned.”

Kendall: “No federal funds should be injected into Site C. From visiting the area and seeing the new developments and feeling the tremors already instigated by the fracking in the area. We have severe instability that has been proven in the provincial reviews. This is a project destined for some serious failure.”

Hewkin: “Would like to say on behalf of the Peace River Valley, it is one of the most pristine and beautiful places on the face of the planet. Doesn’t matter what time of the year you go there. It is incredible. And I’d like to say something about the ugly windmills that are just plaguing the landscape in that country. And no one’s talking about that; how much it cost and all of the waste. The same people behind the dam are the people who created these eyesores that are chopping raptors out of the air like a ginsu chef, and they’re completely getting away with it. If conservatives rubber stamp a project like that, you’d never hear the end of it. Because it’s liberals who did it,  oh, it’s just a free pass for them guys, and they still are covering up the cost. So, I’m tired of failed government that’s going on.”

What reassurance can you offer parents that you are doing everything in your power to halt climate change and protect our children’s health?

Alavi: “With the demand and the OPEC said, just, we have to make s
ure that we are not putting this misconception that we are also part of OPEC. The situation with our market is different. Right now, we only sell into the United States and that’s it. We have to diversify that first before we’re moving on to other conversations, like OPEC or  anything, but with climate change, quickly, we have to address this. Net zero by 2050 is our plan with a Liberal platform and we have a five year target for the oil and gas industry to meet that as well.”

*Dyck experienced tech issues.

Jeffers: “This is is a critically important part of the platform for us. Climate change is very, very significant. and Canada is responsible for 1.5% of greenhouse gas emissions globally. It’s a small world, and we need to be able to affect the big polluters, more. And by getting our resources off offshore. And helping countries like China and India, we can reduce the global emissions much, much more significantly, it’s a better way to do it. And we generate resources that we can put towards alternative energies and lead the world in the development of those energies, making our companies prosperous and paying their fair share. That gives us all of the social programs that we’ve become accustomed to.”

Longley: “This is an important question and the NDP have some solutions for this. What we’re looking at right now and, Phil, I love you, man, but I don’t think that they’re ugly. I think they’re awesome and they look great. And a lot of the problems that you were pointing out about being raptor ginsu knives now that’s awesome brother. Paint one of the blades, that’s what a lot of European people are doing. And then making sure that the birds can actually and, the Raptors, they can spot those blades, right? So they fly away from them. We need to have, like in Dawson Creek, community-owned energy generation systems. It’s interesting, that community set of windmills that was there was actually bought by a private company. So, guess who is getting to see the profits for that resold energy to the grid, the private company now, not the co-op. So, what we need to be seeing is more of this kind of activity, we need to see electrification of more of our vehicles to get us around and we need some smart grid technology to to make sure we can control better what we’re using.”

Zimmer: “It’s been referred to already getting our natural gas or Canadian natural gas to world markets. But what may not be even known by some of the panellists here is that we have some of the cleanest natural gas in the world, because a lot of the process has been electrified. I’ve been out there to the sites personally, and to see that some of the pumps that matter are electric, right? So it makes it our energy that’s already clean, even cleaner and another case for us is even aluminum. We produces ome of the most environmentally sound aluminum in the world, and we need to get more of Canada to the world is what I’m saying and we can have a win-win. We can win for the environment and we can win for our economy.”

Kendall: “Now, the only way we’re going to win is by creating a waste management industry to recycle every ounce of waste generated by each sector of society. The amount of food that we waste, the amount of chemicals, the amount of spills that go into our pristine waterways, we need to slow all resource sectors to a full overhaul to manage each industry sector by sector, prioritizing the oil and gas industry. I had a chance to visit sites and was received a binder this big of the chemicals that are injected into our underground crevices in between our shale pockets and some of those chemicals are actually patented. We don’t even get to know what they are and they bring up many types of chemicals that end up in our waterways, chemicals that we don’t even know what kind of impacts they’ll have on our waterways in our fish.”

Hewkin: “Why am I being charged carbon tax on my natural gas bill? The charge for that exceeds the amount of natural gas I actually use. And for all you people who seem to be very concerned about the environment, I would like you to just look in the toilet next time you flush it. Where do you think that goes? It goes into the river. Prince George puts 28% of their sewage waste untreated. So you want to stand up for the environment? What about Canadian rivers, we get a free pass on this and this is disgusting. We pay tons of dollars in tax. You want to do something for the environment, get the sewage out of the river. Every city, every town, all the way along the Fraser, every river, all across BC, and Canada is putting their raw sewage into rivers, lakes, ponds and streams. This is nonsense. And gas and oil, you might not like it, but it’s what gives us the quality of life we have and it will continue to do so for a long time because there is no real replacement.”

Some of the platforms you guys have, in particular, the NDP and the Greens, have plan to subsidies for oil and gas. One of our primary economic drivers up here are oil and gas, so voters are obviously gonna have a concern about that. Let’s get that out on the table and on the record.

Longley: “I’m getting tired about everybody’s saying that oil and gas is a primary driver in this region. It’s not, farming is far more important. Logging is far more important. Oil and gas is going out. It’s phasing out right now. On those big convoys that we had going to Ottawa where we were concerned about the oil and gas jobs, I understand the people in those convoys were concerned, not a single CAO from any one of these companies that were situated in Calgary was in there with them working guys, not one. Where’s the money going? It’s not staying here, these companies could care less. They take their money out, and they leave. And that’s exactly what’s going to happen if we continue to support this. The NDP is looking towards the future. We should all be looking towards the future and that’s a clean earth.”

Jeffers: “Cory, the oil and gas sector is a monster driver for this region. All of those other sectors that you mentioned, agriculture, mining, forestry are also critically important. But oil and gas isn’t going away anytime soon. It but it’s directly tied to our benefits in environment. Those two programs go hand in hand. Environment is absolutely crucial that we push for Canadian resources to make the mix in the world generate revenues so that we can lead the world in alternative energy development, research and development. Our oil and gas companies are first and foremost, energy companies and having things that are counterproductive, like carbon tax or carbon levy, as proposed by the Conservative Party. Those are counterintuitive to developing of our resources and helping out the world and becoming a better place.”

Kendall: “So, I first want to start with the statistic across Canada. So, we have over 2 million jobs in the agricultural sector in Canada and about 500,000 in the oil and gas sector, and so why is that? It’s because the oil and gas is removed and pumped and taken away and sent abroad. And the agricultural products are actually here, they’re eaten, they’re consumed, their value added, their processor packaged and then potentially sent out or interprovincially. So, if we were to think about those kinds of balances, we just don’t have those kinds of balances here in this province, where we’re not reaping all of the benefits. It’s very much like agriculture, sorry, very much like forestry. The trees are cut, the trees are sent, they’re sent as whole logs, there’s a huge push for that value-added sector and that value-added piece. It’s all about take it and run. And we definitely need some stronger environment.”

Dyck: ” The People’s Party of Canada is pro-project, we are pro-industry and we are anti cerb. And that will help a lot with economy and jobs. If we stop putting red tape around all the pipeline projects, it will go a long way for the industry. And I really agree with what Dave was saying and what many of the other candidates are saying that it’s actually it’s a much cleaner energy than what they’re using around the world and if we want to reduce global warming issues, we need to get it to market.”

Zimmer: “We can be world leaders in energy production in clean energy, but also world leaders in the environment, ike I said before. One thing that we are looking at, and we’re doing a great job already in Canada is carbon sequestration. There’s some great projects in Saskatchewan that sequester carbon, actually, pull carbon out of the air and put it into the ground. So, we can develop our energy, we can ship it overseas, and see the benefits of that offsetting higher emitting forms of energy. But also actually see that reduction where we pull carbon out of the air right here in Canada. We’ve got a great story here in Canada. and again, we need to see more of Canada around class.”

Hewkin: “If Canadians want to reduce emissions and pollution, all they need to do is stop buying Chinese. There’s your big world emitter, not Canada. It’s China. Pretty basic. There are the facts, folks. Check out Thank you. You get to vote on all these things. My opinion is irrelevant. Yours is what counts. Okay. All I want from government is less all of it.”

Alavi:We want to have strong oil and gas and industry exit. That’s not because we’re so in love with the CEOs of these companies, because we want to make sure our people that are working in these industries are actually well supported and they can have a better and smoother transition to another economy or industry like the agriculture industry that I said, and that’s going to help us a lot through the food security topic that I was talking about. And this is a food supply chain, we have to make sure that our ocean waves are supported as well and this is something that the conservatives are stripping away. Liberals party already had a plan and implemented this and we will move forward with the same plan of making sure that our waterways are protected as well.”

September 30th will be the first federal National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. How will you be spending it? How should constituents be spending it?

Jeffers: “Well, I hope to be with some of the people that I’ve been working with the most. In particular, the Doig RIver First Nations and shout out to Shona Nelson and Chief Makadahay, out there. They’ve been inspirational for me developing some new ideas and are very progressive in their approach, to how we can move forward together. And inclusion and engagement and proper consultation has to happen up front. And if we don’t start there, we’re right back to square one. If we keep voting for the same thing and doing the same thing over and over and over, we’re never going to get anywhere, we need to change things up, we need to have a Western voice, we need to include everybody and that includes our First Nations. “

Longley: “6,502. That’s how many bodies that we found, so far. What we need is a definite change, especially for our previously sitting MP, who has decided that Indigenous women, to remain safe, need to stay on the reserve and get a job. That’s old, it’s gross, i’s one of the reasons that I decided to run. What you should be doing on the 30th is you should be taking time and thinking about what you can do to make things better. You should be walking together with our Indigenous cousins. We should be listening to what they need because they have needs and they’ve clearly spoken and given us these needs. We have studies that are huge. Let’s do something with them. The NDP is the only government that has made meaningful commitment to do this.”

Zimmer: “Well, just speaking about truth and reconciliation, we support treaty rights in the process of reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous people. We also created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as part of the 2007 Indian residential school settlement agreement, which recognize that the Indian residential school system had profoundly lasting and damaging impacts on Indigenous culture, heritage and language. We support truth and reconciliation.”

Alavi: “I think it will be a great framework for us to start educating ourselves regarding reconciliation. I believe that there is so many steps that we have to start,  in homes, we have to start educating within our families, and then try to understand the pain that our brothers and sisters from Indigenous communities have endured. So, I believe this will be a great approach. And I invite people to have a more human base answers when questions are posed. This is not the best way, to just read it off a binder or something.”

Kendall: “The challenges facing our Indigenous communities and our riding, as well as across Canada is very, very diverse. There are a diverse as the individual cultures and the environments that they reside within. And why they’re so unique is because the spiritual components of the water, the air, the creatures, the flora, the fauna, the trees that live there are what the people resonate with. And those are the things that are missing when we have all of these political conversations about oil, gas, money. It’s always missing the spiritual component. So we need to sit down with our first nations Indigenous, Metis individuals to have that conversation to start to understand it at that level.”

Hewkin:Well, I know a few native peoples, and they have told me that they feel kind of the same way I do. They wish government would leave them alone. Just leave us alone. But beyond that, did you know that Indians are not allowed to own land on their reserves? It’s a collective and they just they get a piece to live on, but they don’t own it. And I think they would like to own their own land and they should have the right to do so. And if there’s anything truly racist going on in Canada, that’s what it is. Why are natives not allowed to own their own land that they live on? So, I think that’s a good question.”

How do you intend to address systemic racism within the region? What are immediate actions that you would take to create a more inclusive society for marginalized communities such as BIPOC and LGBTQ?

Longley: “We need to let human beings be human beings, and we need to support them with whatever choices they make, rather than being like our previous MP who decided that he would like to vote to block the anti-conversion therapy, law. That’s ridiculous. My daughter doesn’t need to be converted, and none of my gay friends need to be converted. None of my coloured friends need to be converted. What we need to do is make sure that we are actually being more progressive as human beings. We need to actually teach our history in school. I got people in this panel that are telling me they didn’t know residential schools existed. We need to do the emotional labour, not the people that need the help. They don’t need to do that. That should be us.”

Zimmer: “I oppose conversion therapy. The liberals have the opportunity to correct the problem with Bill C- 6, specifically, that would have protected conversations between parents and children, pastors and their congregation and counsellors and their patients. They refuse to do that as part of the legislation.  63 of our
members voted against that particular bill for that reason. That said, conservative government will ban conversion therapy.”

Alavi: “The best way that we can actually address this issue is to make sure that Bob Zimmer is not going to be our MP moving forward. So, that’s number one. If the entire conservative caucus votes to ban conversion therapy, this man will not make sure that you hear this twice. So, regarding the reconciliation, we need to make sure that you know the systemic racism that we have.

The only person that addressed this later to me was Ryan at a previous debate that I had with the rest of the panel. Some hecklers came, and then every time the other was about speak, they caught me off and then from that point on, the entire debate was shut down. And when we have representatives like Bob Zimmer, who don’t interrupt those people to cut them off and allow me to speak, no wonder why we have the systemic racism in this community and across Canada.”

Kendall: “I work in community development. It’s a field that I’ve been working in for the last 20 years listening to the most marginalized voices in our community in Prince George and the north. There’s a wide gender spectrum, there’s a wide minority spectrum, there are just many people that need to have their needs met in the way that  they need to them. We can’t put people into boxes. We need to create the frameworks that allow them to have their needs met, how they need the met within their communities, and the federal governing government needs to support that.”

Dyck: “I think it’s it’s an excellent opportunity to work towards reconciliation in our communities. You can’t have reconciliation handed down from the federal government. But I think we can, with a genuine heart for reconciliation, we can organize with the surrounding reserves to see what would be meaningful for them. And I think that’s a that’s an opportunity we should not miss as a community for sure. So I appreciate that question. On the issue of the second question there, it’s an interesting predicament that we have.

I think the solution or the problem that we had at the beginning was there were some people that were mistreating other people, whether it’s the issue of Indigenous peoples, whether it’s the issue of LGBTQ, whatever it is.  I describe it like this, we have 10 children, one kids picking on another kid, and the government steps in and says, listen, nobody gets a birthday party, except for this one person. But it doesn’t resolve the issue, it actually creates tension between them. This one individual that’s being picked on and the rest of society because the natural propensity for envy gets all of us. And it’s it’s frustrating to to watch the government take a problem and make it worse.”

Jeffers: “All I can do is speak for the Maverick Party, which is an inclusive party, we accept all comers, it doesn’t matter. For myself, I keep things very, very simple, you’re a good person or you’re not. You can do the job or you can’t. And after that, everything else is irrelevant.

So when it comes to inclusion, and everything else, one of the things that I really do like to see, especially in our communities, is some of the new cultures and the new restaurants and the new things that are shaping our towns and villages and everything else around us. It’s been very inclusive, from my end, I really appreciate what other cultures bring to us into the Northeast, and it’s just a tremendous place to be. I encourage more and more to come out and enjoy and participate and, and walk with each other. It’s just a great place to be. So I’ll just leave it at that.”

Hewkin: “I believe the government has no place in the bedrooms of Canadians. I also believe the government has no business in your underwear or panties. And the thing that really concerns me about LGBTQ, I hope I got that right, the 40% suicide rate. This is not a good demographic to be in. I would like to see the focus be on mental health and counseling and help poor people, these people, a 40% suicide rate is unconscionable. And I just bet you that LGBTQ would probably like the government to leave them alone, just like the rest of Canada.”

What’s something that you’ve learned from indigenous culture that you really appreciate and that you want to bring into your world?

Kendall: “I did my degree at the University in First Nations studies, and I’ve worked with many First Nations across the north. I’ve worked in Aboriginal gang prevention. And we really must listen to our indigenous peoples and act responsibly and with integrity as to what it is that they are requesting of us. We must follow through with reconciliation steps as each community requires requests adjust and begs at the federal government. Some of the work that I’ve done is involved, is bringing the stories of our elders to the public eye, and actually speaking to them and recording them and transcribing them and sharing those. And so if we could incorporate those stories in our great schools, and as children grow up so that in our communities, they’re fully aware of who the people are that they live with. I think that would be very beneficial.”

Alavi: “My family for the past like three years, we directly consult with First Nations. My wife works for one of the First Nation communities and we’ve learned a lot as we attended their ceremonies and everything. One thing that I read enjoyed a lot about First Nations, overall, is that the level of connection that they have with a higher being, regardless of what you want to call it, I don’t really care about that. But that level of connection is something that, as a religious person, I call myself, I do not see that level of connection around my peers, as well. So, this is something that I think we can actually learn from our brothers and sisters as well.”

Dyck: “I have a really good friend who is an older native gentleman. He teaches people how to make drums and is an incredible guy. He taught me how to tan hides and I and I spent a fair amount of time working with native community and I actually spoke to some of the council at the halfway about starting a program for their young people, teaching them to build log cabins. One of the issues is, I don’t actually want you to do that, because I want to mention the fact that they have an amazing way of using our resources fully. They’ll hunt something, they’ll use the hide, they use the brains, ey’re very resourceful, and I appreciate their their ingenuity. It’s incredible.”

Jeffers: “As far as indigenous cultures go, our kids to this day still talk about when they were in elementary school and got to go and visit, participate in things like Doig Days or cultural days, out at different traditional grounds.  I was very, very fortunate in the Dawson Creek parade, just before the rodeo to follow a three time world champion, hoop dancer, those kinds of things are phenomenal in how they support each other, and then the differences in our cultures, and how that goes. But overall, it’s probably the sense of family and extended family that just shines through all the time and, how they can support him and do that. I wish we could all learn a lot from that.”

Longley: “I want to say, first of all how benal. How benal these comments are. The first thing that we should be doing is honouring our frickin treaties. The second thing that we should be doing is finding justice for these people that were abused and murdered in the residential schools. These people are still alive. What we need to be doing instead of talking about hoop dancing, which i
s beautiful, we need to be talking about oh, you know, aren’t they swell at these certain things. We need to be honouring our commitments to these people, we need to deal with them nation to nation and if an MP can’t see that, should they be an MP? What we need to be do doing is honouring our commitments to our cousins.”

Hewkin: “I was saying earlier that the residential school thing is terrible. But it is something that did happen quite a long time ago and I think it’s suspicious that the liberals pulled that one out of their hat as a diversion from what they were up to. I’m not saying it doesn’t need addressing. But how we address it, I think is very important. And I would really like to see the Catholic Church stand up. Because holding the current generation responsible for the harms that were done all those years ago, is disgusting. My kids aren’t responsible for that. My generation is not responsible for what happened to them. It just isn’t. So it’s high time the Catholic Church and the evangelists and whoever was involved in that abuse. They were contracted and they were responsible  and need to buck up now.”

Zimmer: “I think what I’ve discovered over many meetings, many visits with many First Nations across the riding, is it starts off with first of all respect, and then to listen. And that’s what I value highly as being friends, and the communication process where we talk, but ultimately, it really starts with respect and that everybody is created equal. And when I when I have talked with First Nation leaders it’s been great. Again just a foundation of respect.”