Chilliwack-Kent candidates, clockwise from top left, BC Liberal Laurie Throness, BC NDP Patti MacAhonic and BC Green Josie Bleuer.

Chilliwack-Kent candidates, clockwise from top left, BC Liberal Laurie Throness, BC NDP Patti MacAhonic and BC Green Josie Bleuer.

Q&A with Chilliwack and Chilliwack-Kent provincial election candidates

All seven in two ridings respond to questions on housing, education and their key local issue

  • May. 5, 2017 6:00 p.m.

With the provincial election just four days away, The Progress asked local candidates about the pressing issues of housing affordability and funding for public education.

The seven men and women running in the two local electoral districts of Chilliwack and Chilliwack-Kent were also asked to let voters know what they think is a particularly pressing issue for their riding, and the answers were diverse.

A more challenging question was also put to the candidates: Name a policy of the party you belong to that should be changed or tweaked. Here, the responses were mostly devotional or vague, save for BC Liberal Laurie Throness who stands by his opposition to harm reduction when it comes to substance abuse, a policy embraced by his own party.

(See below for the wording of the questions followed by the answers, in full, from all candidates.)

On how high real estate and housing affordability are hurting many in the Lower Mainland, and what their party would do to fix the situation, the BC Liberal incumbents stood pat on their party’s policy over the last decade and a half in power. Throness pointed to the 15 per cent Foreign Buyers Tax in Metro Vancouver as a successful measure, along with policies to help new buyers get into the market.

BC Liberal candidate for Chilliwack John Martin said the key is creating new supply, and in addition to policies to spur construction in the private sector, he pointed to funding for affordable housing recently announced in Chilliwack and provincewide.

“We have completed close to 24,000 new units of affordable housing,” Martin said. “And we provide financial assistance to more than 30,000 family and senior households renting in the private market.”

BC NDP candidate in Chilliwack Tracey O’Hara said her party aims to build 114,000 affordable homes over the next 10 years, while reducing other household costs such as MSP, ICBC and BC Hydro.

Chilliwack-Kent BC NDP candidate Patti MacAhonic said BC Liberal leader Christy Clark, as premier, has been working for “rich donors” not for citizens.

“We will impose a tax on property speculators who don’t pay income tax in the province, which will be more effective than a levy on foreign buyers introduced last year by the Liberal government,” MacAhonic said.

As for the BC Green Party candidates, Wayne Froese in Chilliwack and Josie Bleuer in Chilliwack-Kent said housing prices need to be cooled at the top with a sliding property transfer tax from zero per cent up to $200,000 up to 12 per cent for sales over $3 million. The party platform also includes spending $750 million per year to construct 4,000 new units of affordable housing annually.

On the question of what policy area needs special attention in Chilliwack and Chilliwack-Kent, the answers covered the spectrum. In Chilliwack, Martin focused on seniors’ care as did independent McKinnon, O’Hara hit the hot topic of housing affordability and Froese addressed the much-overlooked subject of First Nations relations.

“A critical part of our Chilliwack Green campaign team includes a First Nations advisory committee, and we have identified four key measures as starting points to address disparities and develop genuine nation-to-nation relationships,” Green candidate Froese said.

New Democrat O’Hara said housing affordability is the topic she has heard from voters most on doorsteps.

“The need to have this addressed has kept individuals and families in poverty and a new approach is long overdue,” she said. “One in five B.C. children live in poverty and 23 per cent of those kids are right here in Chilliwack.”

McKinnon said legislation is needed to lower gas and electricity rates for seniors.

On the subject of seniors, Martin said the BC Liberals plan is to invest $500 million over the next four years to improve care for seniors. He said since his time in office, things have improved with $3 billion invested in 2015/16 “almost double what was invested in 2001.”

In Chilliwack-Kent, Throness pointed to homelessness and the interrelated issues of crime, mental health and addictions.

“At last count there were only 221 homeless people [in Chilliwack], but they are very visible in our community,” he said. “More than a few are involved in crime, their living conditions are unsanitary, the needles they discard pose a risk to our citizens, and they contribute to a general atmosphere of disorder and unease.”

Long-term drug treatment is the solution, for Throness.

MacAhonic did not point to a specific policy area, rather she outlined her own biography and work experience. She also reiterated what she has called the “16 years of chronic underfunding of mental health and addictions,” and her party’s plan to create a new mental health and addictions ministry, as well as a poverty reduction plan.

Bleuer said she wants to be a voice for the “sandwich generation,” those still providing for kids while assisting aging parents.

“These people know every shortcoming of the education and healthcare system and are valuable sources of insight,” she said.

When asked if there was any policy in their party’s platform they disagreed with or thought needed tweaking, both Liberal Martin in Chilliwack and New Democrat MacAhonic in Chilliwack-Kent were unflinching in their support of their respective parties. The Green Party’s Froese, too, in Chilliwack said he had found nothing to quibble with adding, however, that he was not “whipped” and was in the only party that allowed MLAs to vote according to their conscience.

In Chilliwack the NDP’s O’Hara was less devotional than MacAhonic.

“I’ve chosen to focus my attentions on the issues of concern to the constituents of Chilliwack and that is more important then any minor differences between my personal beliefs and some platform points,” she said.

Bleuer said the Green Party platform is “a starting point which should be defined by the needs of the community.”

Throness offered the only real tidbit of difference, if an unsurprising one for anyone who has followed him during the campaign. The BC Liberals have elicited support for harm reduction and safe consumption sites for drug users, but Throness remains opposed. As Parliamentary Secretary for Corrections for the past four years, Throness says addictions fuel most crime in B.C.

“As I have already advocated publicly, the goal of our health ministry needs to change. Instead of ‘helping addicts live positive lives,’ I would have the health system strive to cure every addiction, just as we strive to cure every patient with cancer or any other disease,” he said.

Advanced voting continues Friday until 8 p.m. and again on Saturday, May 6 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Election day is May 9.

Questions asked of the candidates and their answers:

Question 1: High real estate and rental prices are hammering individuals and families across B.C. and particularly the Lower Mainland. Most agree the housing situation is in crisis. What’s the best thing you can do as an MLA to advocate to help the situation, specifically here in Chilliwack?

Chilliwack candidates (alphabetically by last name):

Wayne Froese – BC Green Party

The driving factor in the overheated real estate market is market speculation: residences being flipped for profit, largely by wealthy financiers (in many cases foreign).

The resulting escalation in housing prices from top down is placing affordability of homes out of reach for most young families, while simultaneously spilling over into rental costs. As people move down the housing scale, demand increases and places pressure on the housing level below. So we see the same unaffordability issue reflected in the rental market.

Two critical steps are needed:

1. Cool down housing prices, beginning at the top.

BC Greens Affordable Housing Platform includes the key measures: improve and expand the Property Transfer tax (PTT) to see a zero per cent rate on residential sales up to $200,000, sliding all the way up to 12 per cent on sales of $3 million or more; expand the foreign buyers tax across the province, and increase the rate to 30 per cent; work with the federal government to introduce measures to tax lifetime capital gains in excess of $750,000 – specifically for residences bought and sold within five years.

2. Increase the stock of Affordable Housing: invest up to $750 million per year to construct 4,000 new units annually; invest $100 million annually to retrofit and renovate older units; introduces incentives for the construction of and/or conversion of existing buildings for rental property.

John Martin – BC Liberal

Since 2001, our government has committed more than $6.3 billion to provide affordable housing for individuals, seniors and families. More than 104,000 households benefit from a diverse range of provincial housing programs and services. We have completed close to 24,000 new units of affordable housing. And we provide financial assistance to more than 30,000 family and senior households renting in the private market.

The key to improving affordability over the long term is creating new supply. Our government is acting to help the market respond to increasing demand for homes. We have committed an additional $855 million over the last year to ensure more British Columbians have access to some 5,300 units of new, affordable housing.

In 2015-16, the BC Liberal government invested more than $7 million to assist about 1,350 families, seniors and individuals in Chilliwack with their housing costs. This includes spaces at Ruth & Naomi’s Mission, the Creek and the Village. In February, we broke ground on the Urban Village, 80 units of housing for low-income families and youth at risk of homelessness. Our government is contributing $11 million to construct the project. And last Fall, we announced that our government is giving Ruth & Naomi’s Mission an additional $6 million toward a new housing project to help those in our community who need it most.

Should I be re-elected as MLA I will to do my upmost to ensure Chilliwack continues to receive its fair share of attention and funding from government housing initiatives.

Ryan McKinnon – Independent

Regarding the housing crisis, as an elected MLA I would look into securing more funding for multi-family dwellings which would be owned by the province. The profits from these units would be used to develop more housing projects each year. Land in the Chilliwack area is getting scarce and expensive, there will be many challenges in acquiring affordable housing.

Tracey O’Hara – BC NDP

Affordable and accessible housing in Chilliwack is one of the most urgent needs our community faces. Skyrocketing costs have crept up the valley and put strain on our residents, both young and old.

The NDP is committed to a number of measures that will help address this problem. We are taking two steps that can have immediate impact; providing relief in the form of a refundable renter’s rebate of $400 a year for each rental household and ensuring controls on rent increases are enforced, closing the “fixed-term lease” loophole. Looking beyond these immediate remedies, the NDP is committed to a 10-year plan to build 114,000 homes in our province. These will be built through partnerships and will provide new rental, social and co-op, and owner-purchase housing units. This remedy will take time, but as your MLA I would be committed to seeing the benefits of this investment right here in Chilliwack.

Finally, we will support the goal of home ownership by working to keep other household costs down. Increases to BC Hydro, ICBC and Medical Service Premiums are all forms of regressive taxation that undermine the ability of working families to get ahead. Please find more details here.

Chilliwack-Kent candidates (alphabetically by last name):

Josie Bleuer – BC Green Party

Affordable housing is not just a Chilliwack problem, its much more far-reaching. Lets face it, we live in a beautiful area. Fertile valleys, snow-capped peaks, lakes, rivers, and its all within our reach. Its attractive to a lot more than our sons and daughters, its attractive to the world. BC Greens has a detailed plan for affordable housing and cooling the residential real estate market. The detailed plans are at bcgreens.ca, look at 2017 platform.

We plan to work with the Federal Government to eliminate money laundering and international property speculation. One of the proposed measures is a sliding scale for the Property Transfer Tax. $750 million would be invested for up to 4,000 units of affordable housing per year. Partnering with First Nations, co-ops, and the private sector is anticipated to support planning and construction of low-income rental units.

Patti MacAhonic – BC NDP

As elected MLA I would be a strong voice for our community and work hand in hand with municipal government and local working groups to tackle the housing crisis which is rippling through our community from Metro Vancouver.

We will impose a tax on property speculators who don’t pay income tax in the province, which will be more effective than a levy on foreign buyers introduced last year by the Liberal government. Our plan on housing makes British Columbians the priority. On housing, Christy Clark has been working for her rich donors. We’ll be working for you.

• Absentee speculators — we will put a two-per-cent tax on homes of people whose tax returns indicate they pay little or no taxes in British Columbia. It would be implemented first in Metro Vancouver, where housing affordability has become a pressing concern.

• The tax will be based on assessed property values and proceeds would go to a housing affordability fund. This fund will support housing affordability initiatives for British Columbians.

• We will also establish a multi-agency task force to fight tax fraud and money laundering in the BC real estate marketplace.

• Our platform proposal echoes one made in January, 2016, by economists at the UBC’s Sauder School of Business, the Vancouver School of Economics and Simon Fraser University.

• We will review the existing foreign-buyers tax to ensure it would not apply to people who live, work and pay taxes in British Columbia.

Laurie Throness – BC Liberal

High real estate prices are indeed making life difficult for buyers and renters, just as they benefit owners and their families. In our small valley we are fortunate to enjoy a temperate climate, beautiful topography, and a prosperous stable democracy which place upward pressure on prices. However, we have helped to moderate them in the GVRD through our 15 per cent Foreign Buyers Tax.

We have also introduced a new Property Purchase Tax exemption for new homes, increased the Homeowner Grant Threshold, we will build more than 5,000 units of affordable housing, and help 42,000 British Columbians buy their first home through our Home Partnership program. This should free up thousands of rental units, placing some downward pressure on rents.

Providing more housing supply is the other answer. We will help to enable secondary suites by making them eligible for our Home Renovation Tax Credit, and we will work with municipalities to help them speed the approval process to build more homes. Vancouver area municipalities, for example, have 100,000 building permits awaiting approval.

Question 2: Paying for the public education system is expensive. Building schools is expensive. But elementary schools on the southside of Chilliwack were at 137 per cent of capacity at the start of the current school year, with the two high schools at 113 and 116 per cent. There is an undeniable need for more classroom space in the ever-growing community. If elected, what are you going to do about it and how will you pay for it?

Chilliwack candidates:

Wayne Froese – BC Green Party

Not only are classrooms over-capacity, they are stretched thin in meeting special needs. Yesterday I spoke to Chris, a teacher with 30 students in his class – including eight with IEP needs (not simply for language, but for learning). Dire straits for educator and students alike.

The new teacher hires announced in March by the government as mandated by the November 2016 court decision, is only a starting point. More hiring is needed not only for more teachers, but for critical support staff like teaching assistants and librarians. After witnessing 14 years of the Liberal government waging war on education in B.C., there is much pain to endure in bringing our schools back to effective capacity. Adequate staffing increases will demand expanded school facilities – some of which already languish in a kind of portable ghetto, and with parent-driven fundraising that has created a have and have-not schools disparity.

BC Greens Public Education platform pledges to increase public school funding by $220 million in 2017/2018, up to $1.46 billion in 2020/2021. This will be accomplished through a comprehensive budget plan that includes deficit spending in 2018 and then a balanced budget by 2021. A critical part of funding will come from a progressively-scaled Carbon Tax, seeing annual increases of $10 /metric tonne for four years and resulting in approx. $700 million in increased revenue.

John Martin – BC Liberal

As this particular question is specifically directed to a situation in the riding of Chilliwack-Kent, I will defer to my colleague, Laurie Throness, on this matter.

Ryan McKinnon – Independent

Education is one of the provinces most important responsibilities. We as a province have a responsibility to provide the very best education experience to the children of our province. If our schools are at overcapacity we have no choice but to expand infrastructure to safely accommodate and educate the children.

After restructuring the MCFD there will be sufficient dollars to pay for expansion in classrooms.

Tracey O’Hara – BC NDP

The BC NDP has a firm commitment to plan, build and upgrade our schools and I will work to see that promise realized in Chilliwack. We need to act on need immediately, whether it was promised 10 years ago or only stated and recognized in the last six months. Chilliwack has fallen behind due to the lack of leadership on this issue and students in public schools are paying the price.

We don’t need the Supreme Court to tell us to fund education properly and we can’t afford to wait.

I think Mr. Horgan did a very good job in clarifying how funds are allocated in his town hall earlier this week:

“The Governments capital budget is separated from their operating budget, so the expense incurred for portables we see on our school properties comes out of an operating budget, thereby starving this budget. When we should in fact be using capital funds and building permanent infrastructure which in turn would be saving the government’s operating budgets”

Link here.

It all boils down to allocating funds from the appropriate budgets in a responsible way, and the NDP is simply going to make different choices when it comes to the allocation of such funds than the current government.

Chilliwack-Kent candidates:

Josie Bleuer – BC Green Party

Education is paramount in the BC Greens platform.

“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest” – Benjamin Franklin.

“Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today”- Malcolm X.

It is our belief that schools have been historically underfunded. Teachers have continued to take the burden of budget cuts. There is essentially no better foundation to a society than a strong vibrant education system that prepares for the future, not reacts to the past.

The BC Greens plans on immediate investment in schools, $220 million on top of the $330 million already committed after the recent class size ruling. Incremental increases are planned after that. Remember, the Site C dam is a $9 billion project. $9 billion is a lot. An extra $220 million for schools suddenly seems feasible.

Patti MacAhonic – BC NDP

A BC NDP government will restore adequate funding, essential services, adequate bussing, while providing a meaningful voice for teachers and parents in this necessary restoration. Our children deserve nothing less. Vital public services like education cannot be placed in the hands of profit motivated corporations. Public services must stay public.

The fiscal pie or budget will be the same size for a BC NDP government but the slices will change in size; same pie, just more equitably distributed. Different spending priorities under an NDP government will result in funding that ensures our BC Public School System is as strong and effective as it needs to be. Investing in our future means investing in our children. Education is the foundation upon which we build everything needed for a strong economy and quality of life.

Spending priorities reveal a government’s values and our current government values big business and wealthy supporters. We on the other hand value the people of BC. Our people are our most valuable resource. Healthy educated British Columbians are essential for a strong, sustainable economy. An NDP government understands this and will ensure that funding is provided to support this basic belief. We don’t just talk about education being a first priority during an election, we mean it.

Laurie Throness – BC Liberal

Chilliwack is changing rapidly. I remember when Promontory, for example, was mostly forest; I don’t know if anyone could have predicted the growth in our area.

We have been well-served by our government in recent years. Our third high school, G.W. Graham, is just 11 years old. Between 2011 and 2013 alone, our government spent $98 million on just three schools in Chilliwack, Rosedale and Yarrow, with millions more in renovations to others. This spring we announced the $6 million construction of eight new classrooms at Promontory Heights Elementary, which will add much-needed space there.

The government has also asked School District 33 to submit a Project Development Report by September 29 detailing plans for a new South Side School. If elected I will work hard to make that new school a reality, within current funding envelopes.

Finally, over the past four years I have presented in many local schools in my riding. I have been impressed that, while our schools are tight for space, they are also excellently maintained, they are clean and orderly, our students are safe, they are happy, and each and every one is receiving a good education. That won’t change.

Question 3: Candidates in this campaign have talked about healthcare, education, the economy, the environment and other issues. As MLA you need to have your pulse on it all, but what policy area do you think needs special attention for riding. Why and what do you plan to do about it?

Chilliwack candidates:

Wayne Froese – BC Green Party

First Nations in the Chilliwack community hold a special place in my mind and are high priority for my campaign because : 1. there are nine bands in our district, and the indigenous population is disproportionately high (nine per cent) compared to B.C. overall (five per cent); 2. I count a number of them as close friends, many more that I’ve worked beside – the result being I have closer exposure and deeper insight than I would otherwise; 3. their plight remains dire, as colonialism continues to exist in our province.

A critical part of our Chilliwack Green campaign team includes a First Nations advisory committee, and we have identified four key measures as starting points to address disparities and develop genuine nation-to-nation relationships: 1. Adopt a policy of adding full duty to consult to the Local Government Act (not just for OCP – Official Community Plans), as a first step towards adopting consent as referenced in United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP);

2. Remove the extinguishment policy in Treaty negotiations as a first step in dismantling the colonial system of Indigenous control, and move towards honouring Indigenous rights to self-determination promoted in UNDRIP;

3. Implement UNDRIP in relevant BC Provincial Government policy;

4. (A) Place a moratorium on all new tenures for fish farming in B.C. marine waters; (B) Give open net fish farmers along the sockeye salmon migratory route 90-day notices that their permits will be revoked.

See more here.

John Martin – BC Liberal

No issue is more important in Chilliwack or worthy of the upmost priority than seniors’ care.

That’s why we are investing an additional $500m over the next four years to improve care for seniors in residential care, as well as home and community care.

This includes doubling the Home Renovation Tax Credit to $20,000 to make home improvements to accommodate seniors or family members with disabilities, introducing a Respite Tax Credit of up to $2,500 for people caring for seniors or family members with disabilities, doubling the number of hospice spaces in British Columbia by 2020, funding an additional 500 long-term care beds by 2022 and introducing an Active Seniors Tax Credit to support and promote seniors leading active healthy lifestyles.

In 2015/16, we invested almost $3B in home and community care – giving more seniors the option to live in their own home longer – and that’s almost double what was invested in 2001.

For those who need more care, BC has 32,000 publicly subsidized residential care, family care, and assisted living beds – an increase of 6,500 beds since 2001.

The wait for a residential care bed has gone from two years to less than 90 days.

Between 2001/02 and 2015/16 the number of clients receiving home health services increased by 36%, the number of clients receiving professional services like community nursing and rehabilitation increased by 63% and the average hours of home support services per client per year increased from 212 to 263 hours.

If re-elected I will continue to be a loud voice and persuasive advocate for seniors’ care and services.

Ryan McKinnon – Independent

I believe we need to make sure our seniors have safe and affordable housing.We should implement legislation to have lower gas and electricity rates for seniors as well.

Many seniors in Chilliwack cannot afford housing and basic necessities,so if elected I would table legislation to provide food and rent subsidies for seniors.

Tracey O’Hara – BC NDP

What I have heard most on the doorstep is the need to address housing and overall affordability in Chilliwack. The need to have this addressed has kept individuals and families in poverty and a new approach is long overdue. One in five BC children live in poverty and 23 per cent of those kids are right here in Chilliwack; we need a dedicated plan and strategy in place to reach fixed targets. Mr. Martin has suggested that the BC Liberal plan for poverty reduction is the ‘BC Jobs Plan’ but this isn’t good enough.

I have repeatedly stated that mental health is the most common root cause of the poverty, addiction and criminal activity that we are witnessing on the streets of Chilliwack and I am prepared to work with those organizations that have already done a lot of the groundwork in identifying possible strategies in addressing these issues. The BC NDP is committed to seeing our mental health system transformed and knows that early intervention and treatment is the key.

Chilliwack-Kent candidates:

Josie Bleuer – BC Green Party

I want to be a voice for the “sandwich generation.” Those people who are still providing for their children and find themselves assisting their parents as well. These people know every shortcoming of the education and healthcare system and are valuable sources of insight. They rarely complain because, quite simply, they don’t have time.

I am also very interested in working with the forestry sector. I think we have the ability to continue sustainable forest practices, but public consultations are very important. I look forward to further dialogue with both the tenure-holders and the community.

Patti MacAhonic – BC NDP

These are interrelated issues. I put myself through school while raising my children and working after being widowed, receiving an MBA. I have led the largest conservation organization in the province, the BC Wildlife Federation, worked for First Nations in economic development, been executive director of the Chilliwack Chamber where I worked with business while running a management consulting company that helps non profits to become financially sustainable. I am currently on leave from where I work as executive director of Ann Davis Society where we help over 3,600 of our most vulnerable a year. Having a strong economy does not mean you leave seniors, families and our millennials behind. I think my work and experience clearly demonstrates that a strong economy, a strong social safety net and healthy environment are not mutually exclusive as the Christy Clark Liberals try to make people believe. Factoring in people, planet and profits in governance creates vision and leadership.

After seeing the tragic effects in our community and across the province of 16 years of chronic underfunding of mental health and addictions I am especially pleased about the creation of a mental health and addictions ministry and a poverty reduction plan. The three pronged approach of BC NDP addressing affordability, access to services and good paying sustainable jobs means that we will be working for the people of this province and not just the top two per cent of the Christy Clark Liberal’s friends. This is a fiscally prudent approach to building a better BC.

Laurie Throness – BC Liberal

I find the issue of homelessness pervasive in our city. At last count there were only 221 homeless people, but they are very visible in our community. More than a few are involved in crime, their living conditions are unsanitary, the needles they discard pose a risk to our citizens, and they contribute to a general atmosphere of disorder and unease. Many feel unsafe in their own neighbourhoods.

A majority of homeless people suffer from mental health disorders and/or addictions, so I propose two things. First, in addition to the two projects of 115 low-income housing units already funded and underway, if re-elected I will support the significant projects lately submitted by the Salvation Army and Community Services so that we can provide more homes for some of the homeless. Second, over the past four years I have become increasingly convinced of the need for more long-term treatment to help people break free from addictions. Only then will they be able to return to some semblance of a normal life that actually contributes to our community. As MLA I will continue to pursue these twin objectives for the homeless: homes for some and long-term, recovery-based treatment for others.

Question 4: Each of you are citizens who happen to be representatives of a political party. Can you name one policy in your party’s platform you disagree with or that you would like to see tweaked, and please explain how and why?

Chilliwack candidates:

Wayne Froese – BC Green Party

As a candidate for the BC Greens in Chilliwack, I hold the exclusive distinction of not being a “whipped” prospective MLA – both BC Liberal and BC NDP parties whip their MLAs. (Read: forced to vote along party lines whenever mandated by the party, in legislative matters.) I am free to disagree with whatever voting or policy matter I find contradictory, or not in Chilliwack constituents’ best interests. Naturally I chose to stand as a candidate for BC Greens because of compatible values: sustainable decision-making, strengthening democracy, fiscal governance that prioritizes a strong economy for the long haul rather than short-term gains. And most recently, expansion of the BC Greens Indigenous Relations Policy that affirms the objectives I’ve already stated in question three.

Policy Platforms for each major Party are new or newly updated in the face of this election campaign, and I am progressively absorbing the finer details of ours. I’ve come across no policy that I disagree with, however as I’ve stated I have the liberty do to so. I have also found a receptive ear from BC Greens Policy Team, as suggestions I’ve made have already been addressed.

John Martin – BC Liberal

Our 2017 BC Liberal election platform is a fully costed, comprehensive document that will serve as the blueprint for a strong BC and bright future. I was heavily involved with the platform consultation and development process and I support our platform unreservedly.

Ryan McKinnon – Independent (Ed. note: as an independent candidate, McKinnon was told to answer this question any way he liked.)

As a citizen I strongly disagree with the past leadership of Christy Clark.On many occasions there have been recommendations to her leadership that the current children’s ministry is in shambles.

As an elected MLA I would table legislation to immediately restructure the MCFD. I have a sound plan and very knowledgeable people to make this happen. In the process we will save children’s lives and hundreds of millions of dollars yearly.

Tracey O’Hara – BC NDP

I’ve chosen to focus my attentions on the issues of concern to the constituents of Chilliwack and that is more important then any minor differences between my personal beliefs and some platform points.

Understanding how the concerns of the public are reflected in or differ from the party’s platform is the job that I took on as candidate and will remain my focus until May 9. Should I have the opportunity to serve as your MLA I’m committed to responding with action informed by the needs of our community and guided by their response.

See more here.

The commitment of an MLA is to put the concerns of constituents to government; to be their voice in the legislature, in caucus, and in our community. This commitment to be your voice is a guiding principle of our democracy and that is the commitment I have made if elected on May 9

Chilliwack-Kent candidates:

Josie Bleuer – BC Green Party

I believe a MLA should be a mirror of their community, and to take that reflection back to the Victoria. My party’s platform is a starting point which should be defined by the needs of the community. There are many very astute citizens who work tirelessly for the betterment of the environment and quality of living here. My job is to encompass their concerns, listen to the needs of the riding and to act accordingly.

Patti MacAhonic – BC NDP

I struggled with this question and reread our policy and platform thoroughly. I couldn’t find anything that I would take issue with. Our platform is comprehensive, strong and something I can proudly stand 100 per cent behind The BC NDP has a fully-costed platform based on the B.C. February budget. We will work for you and:

1. Make BC Affordable Again

• Build 114,000 new housing units. new student housing, renters grant of $400

• Phase in a$15 an hour minimum wage

• $10 a day childcare

• Freeze BC Hydro and ICBC rates for one year and review our crown corporations

• Get rid of the MSP

• Stop interest on student loans

2. Make sure that there are accessible services for when people need them

• build Community Care centres and new hospitals – improve access to family doctors

• reduce the cost of prescription drugs

• Create a Ministry of mental health and addictions – a priority

• Build new schools and hospitals

3. Create good paying sustainable jobs

• create 96,000 new construction jobs, build schools, roads, hospitals, housing and transit

• high tech and creative industries jobs

• Lead on climate change, creating jobs and lowering energy costs

• Have the BC Utilities Commission review the Site C Dam project

• Stop Kinder Morgan

Laurie Throness – BC Liberal

As Parliamentary Secretary for Corrections for the past four years, I have discovered that addictions to drugs and alcohol drive most crime in B.C. Addictions also contribute to mental illness, other health issues, poverty, accidents, family violence and breakup, homelessness, gang violence, much human suffering and hundreds of deaths (as the current fentanyl crisis demonstrates), and all at enormous public expense.

As I have already advocated publicly, the goal of our health ministry needs to change. Instead of “helping addicts live positive lives,” I would have the health system strive to cure every addiction, just as we strive to cure every patient with cancer or any other disease. If the government were to engage in this great societal project with the same energy and commitment we have devoted over decades to “stop smoking” campaigns, we would save more lives, restore more health, reunite more families, create more taxpayers, reduce more poverty, ease more mental illness, stop more crime and violence, and free up more public funds than any other policy I can think of. Following through on this simple health goal would benefit each and every British Columbian including, and especially, those addicted to alcohol or drugs.

Chilliwack Progress

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