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B.C. ELECTION 2017: Kelowna-Mission candidates take questions from local business leaders

Candidates running in Kelowna-Mission were at the Ramada Hotel Wednesday, April 26, 2017 for a Chamber of Commerce luncheon and forum.
April 26, 2017 - 5:06 PM

KELOWNA – The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce hosted a luncheon and forum today to give their members a chance to meet the four candidates running in Kelowna-Mission.

Incumbent and B.C. Liberal candidate Steve Thompson was joined by Shelley Cooke of the B.C. NDP, Charles Hardy representing the B.C. Conservatives and Rainer Wilkins for the B.C. Green Party at the Ramada Hotel in Kelowna today, April 26.

Most of the questions were given to the candidates ahead of time with some from Chamber members and others from the public. Topics ranged from softwood lumber, jobs, taxes for people with high incomes and marijuana regulation.

Candidates representing the major parties stayed close to party platforms, with Thompson and Cook appearing the most prepared.

All four candidates supported raising taxes for high income earners and marijuana regulation at the municipal level.

Incumbent and B.C. Liberal candidate Steve Thompson was joined by Shelley Cooke of the B.C. NDP, Charles Hardy representing the B.C. Conservative Party and Rainer Wilkins for the B.C. Green Party at the Chamber of Commerce candidates forum, Wednesday, April 26, 2017.
Incumbent and B.C. Liberal candidate Steve Thompson was joined by Shelley Cooke of the B.C. NDP, Charles Hardy representing the B.C. Conservative Party and Rainer Wilkins for the B.C. Green Party at the Chamber of Commerce candidates forum, Wednesday, April 26, 2017.

Cook says her party has been studying models used in American states that have decriminalized cannabis and talked about the “unique cannabis culture in B.C.” All four candidates stressed the importance of ensuring marijuana is not used by children.

Wilkins, who works in the wine industry, said “Unlike Bill Clinton, in my youth, I did inhale" and added rather than opening the door to big business he would prefer to see “a craft marijuana industry” in Kelowna.

Near the end of the forum, the candidates were asked which Kelowna infrastructure projects are most important over the next five years.

Public transit featured prominently with all four in favour of increased spending. Wilkins talked about the Upper Mission’s famous “snake” of traffic that crawls down Lakeshore Road every morning.

“I sit there for 20 minutes in traffic,” he said.

Both Thompson and Cook called replacing the aging Rutland Middle School a priority.

All four expressed support more affordable housing and the implementation of nurse practitioners or physician extenders to help ease the doctor shortage.

The provincial election is on May 9.


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