September 27, 2015 - 11:39 AM
WEST KELOWNA - Conservative incumbent Dan Albas was on the defensive at a Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola all candidates meeting in West Kelowna yesterday, Sept. 26, facing tough questions about his government’s record on the CBC, environmental protection and dealings with First Nations.
The three challengers to his left (figuratively) took turns receiving applause from arts supporters for their pledges to restore and increase funding for the CBC, hold a national inquiry on missing and murdered indigenous women, restoring environmental protection for navigable waters and recognizing native languages — nearly all questions challenging actions and decisions by his government.
Questions were prepared by the Suk'wtemsqilxw West Kelowna Arts Council and sent to the candidates before the event which drew roughly 65 people to The Heritage Retirement Residence, many wearing name tags and temporary tattoos from participation in other Culture Days events. Albas, at times a little red-faced, used the opportunity to express his party’s approach to arts, culture, respect for First Nations and the CBC, which seemed the touch point throughout the 90 minute event.
He put responsibility for CBC cuts on previous Liberal governments and pledged his party’s support for a strong CBC but acknowledged the public broadcaster faces challenges reaching its mandate in the age of Netflix, downloading and streaming.
“They are given about a billion dollars a year. We expect them to be able to provide quality programming as is their mandate. We also expect that they are going to be able to produce programming that people want to watch,” he said. "Be under no misconception — this is a stressful time for the whole industry not just for the CBC."
Albas, Green Party candidate Robert Mellalieu, NDP candidate Angelique Wood and Liberal candidate Karley Scott offered personal stories of the role culture and arts play in their own lives before taking turns answering the questions. Mellalieu got the most laughs and Wood seemed well supported but Scott, a Metis indian who has been called to the bar, was on the offensive. She suggested Conservative changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act was to appease oil interests and called Conservative omnibus bills “an affront to democracy.”
Then she attacked Albas's defence of his government’s option to create a ‘national strategy’ recommendation from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission instead of hold a national inquiry on missing and murdered indigenous women.
“You don’t grow up in an indigenous community as an indigenous woman and not be affected by this issue,” she said. "The reason a public inquiry versus a national strategy is important is because that is what indigenous people are telling us we need to do. So we need to listen."
— This story was corrected at 10:35 a.m. Sept. 25. Karley Scott is Metis and has been called to the bar.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015