Hundreds packed community centre for South Surrey-White Rock debate

Hundreds packed community centre for South Surrey-White Rock debate

Byelection to take place Monday

Hundreds packed the White Rock Community Centre Tuesday evening to hear from the seven federal candidates who are vying to fill the South Surrey-White Rock seat left vacant by the resignation of former MP Dianne Watts.

With the byelection just days away, eager voters lined up early – organizers say some arrived an hour ahead of the scheduled 7 p.m. start – to hear Larry Colero (Green); Kerry-Lynne Findlay (Conservative); Gordie Hogg (Liberal); Michael Huenefeld (Progressive Canadian); Jonathan Silveira (NDP); Rod Taylor (Christian Heritage Party) and Donald Wilson (Libertarian).

The interest prompted South Surrey & White Rock Chamber of Commerce officials to start the meeting early. Candidate introductions got underway 10 minutes ahead of time; a total of 14 pre-selected questions were posed over the course of the debate, moderated by Peace Arch News columnist Frank Bucholtz.

Topics ranged from relocation of the waterfront train tracks and the upcoming legalization of recreational marijuana, to why some candidates have “parachuted” from other ridings; the recently announced national housing strategy; and, if candidates would support amendments to Canada’s Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, to protect workers from losing pensions when businesses close down.

While the “parachute” question did not reference specific candidates, noting only that “two of three” had been defeated in previous elections, four candidates – Wilson, Huenefeld, Taylor and Findlay – responded.

Wilson, a New Westminster resident, said he “saw an opportunity to get the (Libertarian) message out… I’m not going to be aware of local issues, but the federal mandate affects us all.”

Taylor, a northern B.C. resident who is national leader of the CHP, said he wanted to bring the “universal principles” of his party to the riding, noting that, if elected, he and his wife would move to the community “in a heartbeat.”

Findlay – prefacing her response with, “I don’t know if I’m one of the people” – said her roots in the community date back to the ’80s. That history, she said, includes seven years visiting her father in extended care at Peace Arch Hospital, three nights at her brother’s side in palliative care and being a young widow with two kids living in Amblegreene.

“We’ve been here for a while. We love it. I know this community,” said Findlay, who, earlier in the day, told PAN she moved to White Rock “in the summer.”

Huenefeld, noting he lives in Vancouver, said it shouldn’t matter where candidates live.

“We are all Canadians, we are all British Columbians. What unites us is greater than geographical differences,” he said.

Regarding the new housing strategy, Hogg described it as “the first time we’ve seen a new and positive strategy for housing.” Findlay questioned what was being done now, noting the strategy won’t be fully in place until 2028; Colero said it doesn’t address demand; Silveira said it will create an entire generation of “equityless” Canadians; Taylor said it “takes more than four walls and a roof” to address homelessness; and Wilson rejected it outright, describing the notion that government can fix the problem with taxes, fees and policies as “a fallacy from top to bottom.”

Throughout the debate, a number of candidates took opportunities to criticize the governing Liberals, citing broken promises, inaction and bad decisions.

Taylor described the move to legalize recreational marijuana as “a terrible idea for this government,” criticizing a component that he and Findlay said will enable children as young as age 12 to carry up to five grams.

“You have to wonder what he’s been smoking,” Taylor said of Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to laughter.

Hogg rejected the 12-year-old reference, noting the age limit in B.C. is to be 19.

“Kids on the street have access to it right now, ” Hogg said.

Hogg and Colero agreed government control would reduce crime and the number of drug deaths; Colero questioned if all drugs should be legalized.

Candidates were largely in agreement that amendments were needed to the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. Wilson, however, said proposed legislation is “interfering with contractual agreements.”

“We’re casually talking about using force to rearrange those arrangements,” Wilson said. “We don’t need forced restrictions, we need new ideas.”

Candidates were asked if there should be a minister dedicated to seniors.

Huenefeld said he would support a ministry for gender equality, as well as for arts and culture, but questioned if more bureaucracy would benefit seniors. Findlay called it an “extremely important” issue. Hogg pointed to the existing seniors advocate, a position he said was created to help gain insight and respond to issues facing seniors.

Comments Findlay made last weekend to a TV news crew regarding refugees “just walking over from the United States,” and the “reintegration of ISIS fighters” into Canada, with a plan that includes reading poetry, inspired a question regarding just how many such refugees and fighters had entered Canada.

She said “at least” 60 ISIS fighters had returned to Canada, and reiterated her stance that the reintegration is “a really, really serious issue.” To applause, she described the ease of refugees walking across the border as “not acceptable.”

Hogg expressed confidence in the expertise of those dealing with the issues, including CSIS and the RCMP, but noted resources and co-ordination are lacking. Poetry-reading, he added, was “part of a whole range of things” planned in the reintegration process.

Huenefeld said he disagreed with the Conservatives’ “fear-based approach”; Taylor said CHP supports legal immigration and “people we can help and who want to help Canada.”

On the question of the waterfront train tracks – which included if there was support for converting the area into a park – Wilson said he was “unfamiliar with the details”; Hogg, Colero and Findlay supported relocation; Silveira said talks of a new expressway, with White Rock the first point of entry, could be “a real economic opportunity for small business in White Rock.”

Other question topics included autism treatment, how to increase government revenues without raising taxes, veterans’ pensions and if it was more important to close tax holes or go after the “super-rich.”

Many in the crowd were visibly there in support of the Liberal and Conservative candidates, adorned with campaign buttons and responding to their candidates’ answers with enthusiastic applause.

All seven candidates received varied responses to their answers, from light to raucous applause, and from goodhearted laughter to chortles of disbelief.

Constituents will mark their choice for the riding’s next MP on Monday (Dec. 11).

According to Elections Canada, 6,457 voters in the riding have already marked their ballots, in advance polling that took place Dec. 1-4.

The number is just over half the 12,154 votes cast in advance polls for the 2015 election.

In four ridings across the country holding a byelection Dec. 11, South Surrey-White Rock accounted for nearly half of a total 13,762 votes cast in advance polls.

Highlights of Tuesday’s all-candidates meeting are online at www.cpac.ca (go to 1:34:10) Thursday evening as part of Cable Public Affairs Channel’s PrimeTime Politics show.

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

 

Hundreds packed community centre for South Surrey-White Rock debate

Hundreds packed community centre for South Surrey-White Rock debate

Just Posted

(Photo: Now-Leader).
Surrey Schools seeking community input for 2021-22 budget

Majority of it is pre-allocated, but room to address priorities in the community

An example of a Surrey Police cruiser, showcased at Mayor Doug McCallum’s State of the City Address at Civic Hotel in May of 2019. (File photo: Amy Reid)
Surrey Police Service hires first three inspectors as ‘next layer of leadership’

Three men have more than 80 years of combined experience

Whalley Chiefs general manager Paul Hargreaves in the stands at the club's diamond at Whalley Athletic Park. (Photo: Tom Zillich)
Surrey baseball clubs prep for spring games as COVID threatens another season

‘I’m really excited about this year, because we have the troops in place,’ Whalley Chiefs GM says

Scales of Justice
Court awards woman $167K after vehicle was struck by White Rock taxi in 2016

Plaintiff’s knee injuries and resulting chronic pain disability are genuine, judge rules

TEASER - SAGAís Gift Shop Manager Barbie Warwick wearing The Summons while sketching in Facing Time exhibit. Photo by Pardeep Singh.jpg
‘The Summons’ face masks created as fundraiser for Surrey Art Gallery Association

Image of magnolia flower and poetry printed on specially designed mask

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Burnaby Mounties responded to 56 complaints and issued 10 tickets to people flouting COVID-19 restrictions in February. (Patrick Davies/100 Mile Free Press)
COVID denier fined $2,300 for hosting gathering in her home: Burnaby RCMP

The woman told Mounties she does not believe the pandemic is real

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

RCMP members responded to calls of a man-down at Landsdowne mall in Richmond Wednesday afternoon. The 40-year-old was suffering from stab wounds. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man in critical condition following afternoon attack outside Richmond mall: RCMP

The Vancouver resident was found lying injured outside Richmond’s Lansdowne Centre

Most Read