Kelowna-Mission election debate puts spotlight on PST | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna-Mission election debate puts spotlight on PST

Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

One of the B.C. Liberals biggest election promises is to cancel the PST for a year and lower it during its second year in power.

A Kelowna Chamber of Commerce all-candidates forum for the Kelowna-Mission riding today, Oct. 20, cast two drastically different views on what that could mean for British Columbians.

“I didn’t pay PST for a week,” Green Party candidate Amanda Poon said. “There’s no PST on essential goods anyway. You’re shopping at the farmers markets. You’re buying used things. You’re buying locally made things, kids clothes, books, newspapers, bicycles. You don’t pay PST. My dishwasher just broke so I’ll pay PST on that, but you know, I can live with washing my dishes by hand. I’ve done that most of my life."

“We focus on the people who really need it. By improving the lives of those individuals we’re going to have less of the social problems that the whole community is really concerned about," she said.

Liberal candidate Renee Merrifield, on the other hand, said the PST cut will put $1,700 a year into the pockets of an average worker and $500 for a minimum wage earner.

That, plus opening up ICBC to competition and cutting small business taxes, she said, would lead the province to economic recovery and put more money in everyone’s pockets.

“A vote for me is a vote for our economy,” Merrifield said in her closing comments. “It’s a vote for a pathway forward. It’s a vote for lowering your cost of living and making sure you have enough money to afford the necessities of life."

“But, it’s also a vote for your business to make sure you can make it through this pandemic and make it forward into increased opportunity, increased hope, increased trade relationships and really, a better Okanagan and a greater Kelowna Mission riding," she said.

Poon said the Greens would make selective cuts to the PST to help things like the struggling aerospace industry.

There was no counter to either vision from the riding’s only other candidate, the NDP’s Krystal Smith.

Panel moderator Dan Rogers pointed out more than once that despite repeated efforts to modify the date, time and even the format to allow for remote access, the NDP “chose” not to attend.

That left it wide open to highlight the difference between the Liberals and Greens.

Rogers, the executive director of the chamber, said the average new home includes $94,000 in taxes from all three levels of government and asked what each party would do about that.

“Affordability is not going to be solved by hanging cheaper cabinets in a mansion in Kettle Valley,” Poon said, promoting coop housing instead.

“We do need to lower taxes,” Merrifield responded. “We need to lower the layering that taxation has had."

“I’m going to take exception to my colleague in the Green Party," she continued. "It’s not just the Kettle Valley resident that’s experiencing this. A subsidized housing unit has those $94,0000 in taxation from all levels of government, exactly the same as Kettle Valley resident would.”

When it came to transportation, Merrifield said one of the first things she would do, if elected, would be to restore the committee looking into a second crossing of Okanagan Lake that was disbanded by the NDP.

Poon, on the other hand, said new roads are not the solution. Instead, networks for transporting goods regionally have to be improved.

They even disagreed on which party closed the Riverview mental health institution that is blamed for the sizeable number of the homeless people with mental health issues.

Poon blamed the Liberals while Merrifield scolded the NDP.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 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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