Candidates in the Langford-Juan de Fuca all candidates forum on Oct. 16 focused on issues that have been top of mind for area residents this year — mental health, housing, transportation, climate change, Indigenous peoples relations and building back the economy.
Moderated by Sooke mayor, Maja Tait, the Zoom forum was structured around six topics that were determined through a survey sent to constituents. Each candidate had three minutes to address each topic.
B.C. Green party candidate Gord Baird, focused on the party’s plan to implement a liveable basic income, support small businesses through COVID-19 and transition housing, transportation and the economy to align with environmental goals.
Having sold his car 18 months ago and switched to an electric bike, Baird said he knows first hand that transportation in small communities is lacking.
Speaking on relations with Indigenous peoples, Baird said the “biggest roadblock is fearfulness to engage in meaningful and collaborative dialogue.” He said there is a need to collaborate and co-govern.
Owner of Seriously Creative, a marketing agency, Liberal candidate Kelly Darwin put a big focus on economic recovery for small businesses through COVID-19. He emphasized the Liberal party’s commitment to remove PST for their first year in office and only bring it back at three per cent.
“Small business is the fabric of the economy,” he said. “A lot of us are a paycheque, a project or a gig away from going under.”
The biggest suggestions for change throughout the forum came from the Communist Party of B.C. candidate, Tyson Strandlund, who called for the establishment of a permanent, safe and legal supply of drugs, substantially defunding the police and doubling disability and social assistance rates.
Strandlund, who is Métis, also called for full recognition of Indigenous title to traditional territories and condemned John Horgan’s government for its approach to the Wet’suwet’en conflict.
NDP leader Horgan was unable to take part in the Zoom forum, but had NDP MLA for Esquimalt-Metchosin, Mitzi Dean, fill in for him.
Dean said their party “will continue on a pathway of hope,” expanding mental health and addictions treatment, supporting municipalities to create housing strategies and thinking up alternative ways to address transportation in the West Shore.
She and Darwin suggested creating more office space in the West Shore so fewer people have to commute into Victoria each day.
Looking ahead, Dean said the NDP would continue to focus on the environment by phasing out single use plastics and focus on Indigenous relations by revitalizing Indigenous languages and expanding support for Aboriginal Friendship Centres.
Advanced voting for Langford-Juan de Fuca runs from Oct. 15-21 at Luxton Community Hall, Millstream Village – Unit C and SEAPARC Leisure Centre.
Voting polls will also be open on election day, Oct. 24, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
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