First Kamloops federal election forum highlights climate change, Ajax mine, drug crisis - InfoNews

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First Kamloops federal election forum highlights climate change, Ajax mine, drug crisis

Communist Party of Canada candidate Peter Kerek at the all-candidate forum on Sept. 28, 2019.
September 28, 2019 - 2:47 PM

KAMLOOPS - Kamloops residents had a chance to meet with six out of the seven federal candidates at the first election forum today.

They faced several questions ranging from climate change, drug use, the Trans Mountain Pipeline, the Ajax mine project, affordable housing, healthcare, and tuition costs during a roughly two-hour period. All candidates except for Conservative candidate and incumbent Cathy McLeod were present for the forum that took place at the Kamloops Farmers’ Market Saturday, Sept. 28.

Candidates were given five minutes to introduce themselves and their platform before a question period began. Questions were gathered from customers and vendors at the market.

The aspiring MPs were asked their stance on the Kamloops Ajax mine project, which was down-voted in 2017 and recently brought back to the spotlight by a statement from a minority stakeholder. Liberal candidate Terry Lake was firm with his response, stating he would not be supporting an open-pit mine in south Kamloops unless it was at least ten kilometres away or an underground type of mine such as New Gold mine.

Liberal candidate Terry Lake on Sept. 28, 2019.
Liberal candidate Terry Lake on Sept. 28, 2019.

“The issue of the Ajax mine is one that caused quite a lot of division in our community,” Lake said. “I would not be in favour of bringing back the same proposal…we went through the process, it was a good process, a decision was made and I think we should really put that issue to bed for the City of Kamloops.”

Candidates were also asked what features that would make universal basic income more successful. New Democratic Party candidate Cynthia Egli, who recently put her name forward to represent the party, was caught off guard with the question.

New Democratic Party candidate Cynthia Egli on Sept. 28, 2019.
New Democratic Party candidate Cynthia Egli on Sept. 28, 2019.

“This is day six for me. I’m not sure I’ve heard this actual term before, universal basic income. I can speak about universal health care which I truly believe has been around forever... I truly believe and that’s the reason I am standing here in front of you today that everyone has a right to afford their medications and their drugs they need,” she said. 

Candidates were also asked how they view the war on drugs and if they would consider adopting the Portugal model, in which the country decriminalized all drugs in 2001, according to a report published by TIME.

“More people die from alcohol poisoning and long substance abuse than of many other substances, including heroin,” Peter Kerek of the Communist Party of Canada said. “We believe the Portugal model clearly works… that allows people to also seek help because they're not going to be criminalized by the process. Drug addiction and substance use has actually decreased in Portugal. It’s the perfect model.”

Several candidates agreed on this topic.

“I’m rushing to agreement with my Communist friend. The war on drugs has never worked. The Liberal party does not have an official policy on decriminalization, it doesn’t,” Lake said. “But I’m here to tell you that if I’m elected I’m going to work very hard to have our government look at the Portugal model.”

As some candidates showed their expertise on certain topics, others distracted from the main point to shift the focus of their response to unrelated topics, such as the fashion choice of their fellow opponents. 

People's Party of Canada candidate Ken Finlayson, who left before the forum was finished due to other commitments, was asked about how his party lead by Maxime Bernier plans to address climate change. His answer included addressing Animal Protection Party of Canada candidate Kira Cheeseborough’s choice of shoes.

People's Party of Canada candidate, Ken Finlayson, on Sept. 28, 2019.
People's Party of Canada candidate, Ken Finlayson, on Sept. 28, 2019.

“We believe in climate change and the question kind of presupposes we're going to do something about it. But we don’t think we have that capacity – before I go any further though, I have to compliment the young lady with the animal rights party on her beautiful leather boots,” Finlayson said.

Green party candidate Iain Currie responded to the question about climate change, stating unity between different levels of governments is the key to addressing environmental issues.

“It begins with a plan across governments - not just the federal government, but bringing together the provincial government, indigenous governments, and municipalities on an all hands on deck plan to concentrate our collective efforts on combatting a crisis, a real emergency we have," he said. 

A crowd of roughly 40 people gathered at the forum hosted by the Council of Canadians to listen to candidates’ responses. The audience dwindled to about a dozen people near the end.

The turnout at the first all-candidate election forum on Sept. 28, 2019.
The turnout at the first all-candidate election forum on Sept. 28, 2019.

So far, two more all-candidate forums are planned for early October.

Green Party of Canada candidate, Iain Currie on Sept. 28, 2019.
Green Party of Canada candidate, Iain Currie on Sept. 28, 2019.

Animal Protection of Canada candidate, Kira Cheeseborough, on Sept. 28, 2019.
Animal Protection of Canada candidate, Kira Cheeseborough, on Sept. 28, 2019.

For information on the election forum on Oct. 3, click here, and for the Oct. 8 forum, click here. 

For more information on the Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo election, click here. 


To contact a reporter for this story, email Karen Edwards or call (250) 819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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