The economy and environment were hot topics at the Nanaimo-Cowichan all-candidates meeting held at Georgia Avenue Elementary School Tuesday.
The debate attracted a crowd of 50-75 people. The candidates agreed government needs to implement programs that create jobs to help Canadians climb out of the recession.
Incumbent NDP MP Jean Crowder said jobs can’t be created at the expense of the environment, instead government needs to encourage the creation of green jobs and growth in the renewable energy sector.
“A job has no value on a dead planet,” said Crowder.
She said the government needs to stop subsidizing the fossil fuel industry and instead take that money and invest it into green initiatives.
Liberal candidate Brian Fillmore said there is high unemployment in the riding and he also supports incentives to create growth in the green job sector.
“It’s the green economy that is going to create the jobs of the future,” said Fillmore.
Communities need to start creating eco-friendly jobs and reduce the reliance on good shipped from overseas, said Green candidate Anne Marie Benoit. She said farmers need support and more people need to create community gardens and grow renewable resources such as hemp.
Conservative candidate John Koury said Canada emerged from the recession with one of the strongest economies in the world. He said the conservative government will continue its economic action plan to help continue making Canada’s economy strong.
Crowder’s main issues were creating jobs, improving health care and investing in initiatives for affordable housing. Crowder said she has a proven track record of listening to the concerns of constituents in her riding and fighting for those issues. She said the NDP has committed to a balanced budget by 2015.
The Conservative government needs a strong majority to continue focusing on the economy and creating jobs, said Koury.
“We need a strong national majority and we are going to continue what we are doing right,” he said, adding the Conservatives will continue to invest in infrastructure projects and has created tax credits for people to save money and stimulate the economy.
Fillmore said his main concerns are the economy and the environment. He also said the country needs to more toward proportional representation to give a voice to all Canadians and the issues they want addressed. He said a more proportional system may encourage more youth to come out and vote.
While Benoit says green jobs, health care and affordable housing are on the top of her list to address when elected, she said Canada needs a universal pharmacare program and coverage needs to be expanded to include alternative health practitioners.
She added there needs to be more tax incentives for people to build affordable housing.