South Okanagan West Kootenay candidates talk business at low-key candidates meeting | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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South Okanagan West Kootenay candidates talk business at low-key candidates meeting

South Okanagan West Kootenay federal election candidates squared off at the Penticton Seniors Centre yesterday evening, Oct. 10. From left, Liberal Connie Denesiuk, NDP Richard Cannings, Green Party Tara Howse, Peoples Party Sean Taylor, Independent Carolina Hopkins, and Conservative Helena Konanz.
October 11, 2019 - 1:30 PM

South Okanagan West Kootenay federal election candidates got down to business at yesterday’s all candidate’s meeting in Penticton.

Roughly 50 people turned out last night, Oct.10, for the Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce hosted event at the Penticton Seniors Centre.

Campaign fatigue was evident, especially for People’s Party candidate Sean Taylor, who had to pass on two questions during the panel session.

“It’s been a long day,” he said.

Conservative Helena Konanz derided the Liberals for what she said was four years of a lack of spending on infrastructure in the South Okanagan, especially roads. On rebuttal, Liberal Connie Denesiuk reminded the audience most highway spending comes from provincial, not federal coffers.

In answering a question related to improving the transport of goods and services through the riding, Green Party candidate Tara Howse suggested upgrading rail lines.

The only problem with that suggestion is the only remaining active rail line in the South Okanagan is a 10 kilometre stretch west of Summerland used for the Kettle Valley Railway tourist train.

Incumbent Richard Cannings said the most important transportation link in the riding was service out of Penticton Regional Airport. He said he’d been successful lobbying for more technologically advanced aircraft to fly Penticton routes, only to have the most important flight of the day for business travellers dropped from the schedule. He also promised the mostly business crowd in attendance to work at bringing back the bus routes recently abandoned by Greyhound.

Answering a question about how her party would help small and medium business grow, Konanz told the group her party would cut the carbon tax, red tape, and “claw back Employment Insurance and Canada Pension Plan.”

Incumbent Dick Cannings said his party would prioritize affordable housing units, saying employees can’t afford to relocate to the South Okanagan to find work due to housing costs.

The first half of the meeting included a “speed dating” format where the six candidates moved from table to table, speaking to constituents before assembling in a panel to answer questions put to them by the chamber.

Most of the panel questions put to the candidates had a business aspect to them, whether it was about the candidate’s party’s plans to reduce debt, to reducing interprovincial trade barriers.

In spite of being over two hours long, the candidates had limited time for questions during the panel portion of the meeting, due to their numbers.

Last night’s panel also included independent candidate Caroline Hopkins.

The meeting was a sedate, polite affair, with none of the candidates emerging a clear winner.

A third Penticton candidate's forum focussing on environmental issues is scheduled for Oct. 15 at the Penticton Lakeside Resort. The election takes place Monday, Oct. 21, 2019.

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