Saanich North & the Islands Candidate Q&A

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The Driftwood asked the three candidates vying for the MLA’s job in Saanich North and the Islands a few questions leading up to the Oct. 24 provincial election. Their answers, which appeared in the Oct. 14 issue of the Driftwood newspaper, are posted below.

Saanich North and the Islands candidates, from left, Zeb King (NDP), Stephen P. Roberts (Liberal) and Adam Olsen (Green).

Adam Olsen – Green

Q. How do you think the government has handled the coronavirus pandemic challenge so far and what could a provincial government do better in the foreseeable future? 

A. British Columbia’s COVID-19 pandemic response from a public health emergency perspective has been widely recognized as one of the best worldwide. This is in large part due to the politicians stepping back and focusing on supporting our constituencies, while turning over the decision-making to an evidence-based approach driven by public health professionals.

British Columbia could have done much better with respect to the economic recovery. Although the three political parties unanimously supported the $5-billion economic package, the BC NDP government has taken far too long to roll the funds out to support struggling sectors of the economy such as tourism and hospitality. This is where the politics and interests of political parties, in particular the governing BC NDP rolling out the economic recovery funds as part of their snap election call, is so distasteful to many British Columbians. The government would have done much better to keep politics out of both the response and economic recovery.

Q. Describe two other B.C.-wide issues that are particularly important to you, and your party’s positions on them. 

A. Climate change. The BC Greens believe that climate action requires a robust plan. More importantly it requires honesty. We focused our effort on developing Clean BC because it offered an economic/environmental vision for how we can start building a more sustainable future, today. The provincial government must stop subsidizing the fossil fuels industry and finally be willing to have the courage to make difficult decisions and sit at the table honestly and in a good way. Neither the BC NDP nor the BC Liberals have shown that yet. They want to have it both ways and in the case of LNG Canada teamed up with each other to do it. 

Health Care. The forward momentum to build a team-based approach to longitudinal primary care is moving slowly. Unfortunately, the BC NDP have become distracted by creating urgent care facilities that are more about large clinics rather than the long-term care we need in communities across the province.

Q. Describe one issue of specific interest to Gulf Islanders that you would champion as our MLA. 

A. In recent months I have been working with the islands trustees, CRD directors, our Member of Parliament and First Nations leaders to develop a local forum, similar to The Howe Sound Forum, to address the jurisdictional issues that challenge us all. As the MLA I will continue to pursue that to see it come to fruition, however, I think organizing public policy on our coast needs to go further.

British Columbia is the only province without a Coastal Protection Act. As the province with the longest coastline and coastal economies dependent on all governments (local, provincial, federal and Indigenous) actively managing their jurisdictional responsibilities, it is long past time that British Columbia work with the other governments proactively to legislate those responsibilities and jurisdictions. This is critically important for the Gulf Islands communities that are surrounded by water and constantly navigating the murky waters of government jurisdiction.

Zeb King – NDP

Q. How do you think the government has handled the coronavirus pandemic challenge so far and what could a provincial government do better in the foreseeable future?

A. British Columbia has been a leader in the fight against COVID, but we must redouble our efforts in the months ahead. First and foremost, we need to continue listening to and following the advice of the Provincial Health Officer. As a government, we need to ensure that PPE is plentiful and readily-available, and that our testing system is accessible and effective. And as a community, we need to reach out to those who are isolated, including our elders and our kids.

In this election, you have the opportunity to choose who you want to lead British Columbia through the next stages of this pandemic. Our plan keeps British Columbia moving forward and ensures everyone is included in our recovery. It provides a one-time pandemic recovery benefit for families ($1,000) and individuals ($500); it improves public health care by training more doctors and nurses, as well as a 10-year cancer plan; and it helps families with kids by expanding $10-a-day childcare.

A lot of progress has been made over the past three and a half years to improve health care, create jobs and opportunities, and make life more affordable. Now more than ever we need to invest in people and keep moving our province forward.

Q. Describe two other B.C.-wide issues that are particularly important to you, and your party’s positions on them.

A. Protecting people and our planet from the perils of climate change has long been a top priority for me. Over my five terms on Central Saanich Council, I successfully championed our first climate change plan despite much resistance, and later helped accelerate the plan and led local efforts to declare a climate emergency. As part of John Horgan’s team, I want to help move ambitiously forward with the next stages of our CleanBC climate change strategy and our plan to accelerate targets to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

Another issue I’m passionate about is affordable housing. Everyone deserves an affordable home to call their own — but under the BC Liberals, housing costs skyrocketed and people were left behind. As a firm supporter of Housing First policies, I’m proud of the NDP’s focus on building a range of options, with more housing built in the last three years than the Liberals did in 16, including new homes for families and seniors on Salt Spring. We can’t fix 16 years of BC Liberal bad choices overnight. But whether you rent or own, John Horgan’s BC NDP government is working hard every day to make housing more affordable for everyone who lives here.

These are just two of the many issues I’m passionate about and committed to achieving. Learn more at www.facebook.com/ZebKingBCNDP

Q. Describe one issue of specific interest to Gulf Islanders that you would champion as our MLA.

Gulf Islanders know the importance of affordable, reliable ferry service. Over the past three years, the BC NDP has reduced fares and increased service. We are committed to making BC Ferries more accountable to the people it serves and resetting its priorities around you. As our MLA, I will advocate for the unique priorities of the Gulf Islands and bring your voices to the table.

Stephen P. Roberts – Liberal

Q. How do you think the government has handled the coronavirus pandemic challenge so far and what could a provincial government do better in the foreseeable future?
A. From a medical and epidemiological viewpoint, the government of British Columbia did the right thing in leaving our pandemic response in the hands of Dr. Bonnie Henry and her team. I’m sure that in the months and years to come, there will be plenty of retrospectives that may use the benefit of hindsight to critique specific actions and those will be dealt with on arrival. Following this election, the pandemic will still be in our midst and Dr. Henry’s team will still be a primary source of medical advice.
On the economic front, however, the current government failed to plan and failed to act. While all three parties came together and agreed to spend $5 billion in March, the NDP failed to release a plan until one week before their snap election call. As a result, small businesses, families and farmers aren’t getting the support they need and were promised. Further, they likely won’t receive it until December or January, since the reckless election call has placed the government in stasis until a new cabinet is in place. 

Q. Describe two other B.C.-wide issues that are particularly important to you, and your party’s positions on them.
A. The pandemic has highlighted some concerning gaps in how we take care of each other in our final years. The BC Liberal party will provide a new Senior’s Home Care Tax Credit to enable more seniors to live for longer in their own homes if they so wish. We will also implement a $1-billion five-year long-term care home plan to replace and upgrade outdated long-term care homes and assisted living residences to ensure every senior who wants a private residence can have one.
The other issue is how to help small business and local families recover from the pandemic’s complex impacts. The BC Liberals will also immediately cut the provincial sales tax to zero for a year and to three per cent for a second year to stimulate the economy and help small business. A family of four earning $60,000 per parent will save an estimated $1,700 in the first year and an additional $979 in the second, which is money you can spend the way you want on your priorities, not those of the government in Victoria.  

Q. Describe one issue of specific interest to Gulf Islanders that you would champion as our MLA.
A. Recent years have seen an increase in the number of islanders experiencing homelessness, often alongside mental health challenges or substance-use disorders. The perception of safety for many on the islands has degraded as a result. As MLA, I will work with local leaders, health professionals and the RCMP to ensure that we find solutions that will result in homes for those that want them, complete with desired support services. At the same time, I will bolster efforts to ensure that police have the necessary tools to help regain our sense of community safety.

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