Meeting moderator Corisa Bell, former city councillor in Maple Ridge. (Neil Corbett/THE NEWS)

Meeting moderator Corisa Bell, former city councillor in Maple Ridge. (Neil Corbett/THE NEWS)

MP candidates clash in Maple Ridge

Face questions about the economy, debt, immigration and house prices

Six candidates running for the seat in Parliament representing the riding of Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge met in an all-candidates meeting on Wednesday night at Fraserview Village Hall.

They didn’t exactly lock horns, as the rules for decorum at the event dictated no direct slamming of an individual or party. However, the candidates sometimes found ways to get their points across directly, and the biggest cheer of the night went to Green Party Candidate Ariane Jaschke when she said “Instead of voting for the lesser of two evils, you can vote them both out by voting green.”

The crowd was still showing its appreciation when Conservative candidate Marc Dalton, the next speaker, jokingly tried to steal the applause, standing up and saying “Thank you, thank you.”

There were virtually no so-called “gotcha” moments, but incumbent Dan Ruimy talked about the value in a discussion of policy. He said the “terrible” televised leaders debate on Monday was a reflection of a parties not wanting to talk policy.

“They want to sling mud and assassinate character,” he said, adding he didn’t get involved in politics to play the petty partisan game, but look for “transformational programs” that help people, using good ideas from all parties.

There was a difference in the way each party viewed Canada’s debt.

Dalton said the cost of debt is too high, and the amount of interest the country pays to service its current debt is more than Canada spends on nationadefence.

“It was initially 2040 that we would be out of debt, but now there is no plan at all to ever having a balanced budget,” said Dalton. “That is really bad for your kids, and for us…

“Today’s deficits are tomorrow’s taxes,” he said, to a round of applause.

Ruimy said the government is spending money wisely on services, such as new seniors housing.

“Over the last four years Canada has had the best economy in the G7,” said Ruimy, adding the debt-to-GDP ratio is trending downward, which is a positive sign for the economy.

NDP Candidate John Mogk several times mentionned his party’s plan to start putting up affordable housing.

“We’re going to crate 500,000 units of energy efficient affordable housing withing the first 10 years. Half of that will be done within the first five years, and invest $5 billion in additional funding in the first year and a half,” said Mogk.

He said the NDP would also re-introduce 30-year mortgage terms, and tax incentives for affordable housing.

Independent candidate Steve Ranta said policies should reduce land prices, and there should be increased taxes on speculation. Mortgage terms should be reduced, and should be harder to qualify for to keep people from getting in over their heads. He wants incentives given to developers to build affordable housing.

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“We’ve got lots of condos in the sky, with big glass windows, and some of them are even empty,” said Ranta. “We’ve got to find a way to use our private sector, and give incentives to house people in affordable housing.”

People’s Party of Canada Candidate Bryton Cherrier said pension plans for seniors should be strengthened by cutting spending such as government subsidies.

“We need to re-direct a lot of these funds that I consider waste, and actually (put them) toward our Canadians,” he said.


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