A virtual all candidates meeting hosted by the South Surrey and White Rock Chamber of Commerce on Oct. 15 underlined predictable divisions among local hopefuls on topics such as like dealing with COVID-19 recovery, including providing economic stimuli, ensuring health and elder care, and creating more affordable housing.

A virtual all candidates meeting hosted by the South Surrey and White Rock Chamber of Commerce on Oct. 15 underlined predictable divisions among local hopefuls on topics such as like dealing with COVID-19 recovery, including providing economic stimuli, ensuring health and elder care, and creating more affordable housing.

BC VOTES 2020

Eight provincial candidates go head-to-head on screen in virtual debate

Chamber of Commerce hosts Surrey South and White Rock hopefuls

The presenters may have been different, but the song remained largely the same for Surrey South and Surrey-White Rock provincial election candidates in their most recent virtual campaign forum, held Thursday, Oct. 15.

The morning all-candidates, meeting was hosted online by the South Surrey White Rock Chamber of Commerce, sponsored by CARP, the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board and the White Rock BIA.

Moderated by multi-media journalist (and former Miss White Rock) Hayley Woodin, the meeting differed from the Oct. 8 online forum hosted by the Surrey Board of Trade in that it included all of the candidates from the two southernmost Surrey ridings – not just those from the largest parties.

READ ALSO: Candidates stick to party line in virtual Surrey debate

But in many other ways it hewed to what has become a standard pattern in this election in the answers given to questions that ranged from the need to improve elder care, to best steps to ensure economic recovery during and after COVID-19, transportation and infrastructure issues, addressing affordable housing and systemic racism and the importance of transparency in the proposed transition from Surrey RCMP to a municipal force.

NDP candidates (Pauline Greaves for Surrey South, Bryn Smith for Surrey-White Rock) insisted that the wisest choice, in pandemic times, is to stay the course with the John Horgan government, and that three years in office has not been enough to overcome what they allege is decades of prior neglect by the B.C. Liberals.

The BC Liberals, however (represented by incumbent Stephanie Cadieux in Surrey South and Trevor Halford in Surrey-White Rock), said the NDP had broken faith with the electorate and that their policies did not have the fiscal accountability necessary to stage a proper economic recovery.

Candidates for the BC Green Party (Tim Ibbotson in Surrey South, Beverley ‘Pixie’ Hobby in Surrey-White Rock) – which has played a key role in bolstering the NDP minority government for the past three years – predictably took pot shots at the record of both the Liberals and the NDP, while noting that it is time for B.C. to institute significant and sweeping changes in policy to address such issues as climate change and sustainable recovery.

But some of the strongest statements against the status quo came from two Surrey White Rock candidates, Libertarian Jason Bax and independent Megan Knight, who has previously claimed that her initial bid to run on the B.C. Liberal ticket in this election was derailed by insider party politics.

Knight said she is running as an independent because she is “committed to the Surrey-White Rock community” as a 41-year resident and business owner.

“I understand what voters want from their elected officials. They don’t want secret backroom dealings where Liberal insiders decide who is on your ballot…the BC Liberal Party has taken the voters of this riding for granted for far too long.”

Bax repeatedly argued – in response to multiple question topics – that supporting businesses is not the job of government, and that it should “get out of the way” of recovery efforts.

Rather than continuing to tax voters to pay for more programs, he said, they should remove liquor taxes, carbon taxes and fuel taxes “to put money back in the hands of the citizens, that they can spend in the local businesses, including restaurants, bars and tourism.”

“Government does not understand business,” he added. “If they did they wouldn’t lose money on ICBC, they wouldn’t lose money on marijuana.”

Smith, while noting that the NDP will continue a “targeted” approach to tax cuts and other business incentives, took aim at the BC Liberal record, particularly in the Surrey South and Surrey-White Rock ridings and their earlier incarnations.

“Surrey-White Rock and South Surrey get the short end of the stick, every single time,” Smith said.

“Our schools are overcrowded, care homes are cut and Peace Arch Hospital has too much strain, because there is a third Surrey hospital, that was supposed to be built, but wasn’t. We are dealing with this historic deficit and for the last 30 years we have voted in Liberal representatives – in exchange for nothing.”

Responding to a question on what measures should be taken to fast-track affordable housing Greaves said, “it is one of the biggest issues that affect all of us, whether we are renting or we own.”

“(The NDP) has developed a 10-year plan that will allow for us to fix up B.C. existing stock and also put additional units in play,” she said.

“It’s about freezing (rents) until the end of 2021, but it’s also about reducing construction costs to make homes more affordable, by bringing down costs for the developers. We’ve also developed the single-window permit process and would work with communities to streamline the approval process at the local level.”

Cadieux fired back that “the BC NDP has got a big plan – unfortunately, they haven’t been able to deliver on it.”

“Only five per cent of the units that they’ve got delivered, or under construction, are affordable housing. The rest is supported housing, all of which is necessary, but it’s not talking to that home buyer or renter…There’s a lot of work to be done in this area, but with a good, solid plan, like we have, we can get it done.”

In a later summary of her position, Cadieux noted that B.C. “didn’t ask for an election.”

“People are struggling to manage their way through the pandemic. John Horgan broke a lot of promises to get us to today. Now (the NDP is) recycling unmet promises from 2017.”

Both Cadieux and Halford noted the BC Liberal plan to reduce the PST to zero for one year, and three per cent in the following year as a way to get money back into the hands of B.C. residents and provide a stimulus to the economy.

“We are in unprecedented times,” Halford said. “In those times you have to do some unprecedented measures.”

Halford said a PST cut would be beneficial to all.

“It doesn’t matter what income bracket you’re in – it is that people are going out, whether they’re going out for dinner, or buying hockey equipment or whether they’re buying their child a car…at the end of the day, a cut in PST is giving families more money, and in these times I think everybody can use a little more.”

READ ALSO: Meet the candidates: Five in the running for Surrey-White Rock riding

READ ALSO: Meet the candidates: Three in the running for Surrey South riding

In concluding comments, Ibbotson took both the BC Liberals and the NDP to task, the Liberals for proposed tax cuts and the NDP for what he described as ‘broken promises’.

“Time’s over for the Liberals,” he said. “Taking the debt from $44 million to $46 billion, I can only imagine what you’ll do with the pandemic, if you guys take us into that kind of debt (for) when there’s no pandemic.

“The NDP in government lost a whole bunch of their votes by going back on their word about oil and gas (projects); just blatantly lying to people and then having every single member of your party vote for oil and gas,” he added.

“There’s a whole bunch of people in B.C., and especially in Surrey South, that are no longer just going to vote for tax breaks for the wealthy – they actually care about the planet.”

Green candidates said, however, that there can be hope for the future, even with current challenges.

Hobby said that while the pandemic has people worried about their health and safety, their children, their jobs and economic security, “in all of this, there’s an opportunity, by making deliberate, strategic choices now, and in how we navigate COVID, we can seize new opportunities.

“We can build a more inclusive economy with secure jobs – we can establish B.C. as a world-leading, low-carbon economy, exporting ideas and the technology that the world needs to solve the climate crisis.”



alex.browne@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

BC politicsBC Votes 2020

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

Sven Spichiger, Washington State Department of Agriculture managing entomologist, displays a canister of Asian giant hornets vacuumed from a nest in a tree behind him Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. Scientists in Washington state discovered the first nest earlier in the week of so-called murder hornets in the United States and worked to wipe it out Saturday morning to protect native honeybees. Workers with the state Agriculture Department spent weeks searching, trapping and using dental floss to tie tracking devices to Asian giant hornets, which can deliver painful stings to people and spit venom but are the biggest threat to honeybees that farmers depend on to pollinate crops. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Crews vacuum ‘murder hornets’ out of Washington nest, first-ever in U.S.

The nest found in the city of Blaine near the Canadian border is about the size of a basketball

A reminder to students at Surrey’s Strawberry Hill Elementary to physically distance during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Five Surrey schools reporting COVID-19 exposures, including another at Panorama Ridge

INTERACTIVE TABLE: Search for schools, organize by exposure dates

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Staff members at Surrey Pretrial test positive for COVID-19

Ministry of Public Safety says employees tested positive between Oct. 18 and 23

(Image by Ulrike Leone from Pixabay)
QUIZ: A celebration of colour

Fall in British Columbia is a time to enjoy a spectrum of vivid colours

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

BC Hydro map showing where power has been knocked out is dotted with over a dozen outages. (BC Hydro map screenshot)
Thousands without power in Lower Mainland on election day

One outage in Langley and Surrey is affecting over 4,000 customers

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

file
One dead after fiery crash near Agassiz

Agassiz RCMP report a 56-year-old man died Friday night

The possibility of the Canadian Premier League expanding to the Fraser Valley has been floated online. (Facebook photo)
Canadian Premier League possibly eyeing Fraser Valley expansion

Soccer league looking to add ninth team to the mix, B.C. markets potentially rumoured

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Most Read