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Notes from the Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo all-candidates forum

All seven candidates in the federal election met on Sept. 13 to take part in an all-candidates debate organized by KTW, Radio NL and the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce.
election debate 2021
Behind the scenes at the Sept. 13, 2021 all-candidates meeting, which was broadcast on the Facebook pages of KTW and the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce and on Radio NL.

All seven candidates in the federal election met on Sept. 13 to take part in an all-candidates debate organized by KTW, Radio NL and the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce.

Participating were Wayne Allan (Independent), Frank Caputo (Conservative), Iain Currie (Green), Corally Delwo (People’s Party), Jesse McCormick (Liberal), Bob O’Brien (Independent) and Bill Sundhu (NDP).

Moderated by Radio NL’s Brett Mineer, the forum was held in the GK Sounds studio in Southgate and broadcast on the Facebook pages of KTW and the chamber and on Radio NL.

The entire two-hour forum can be viewed by clicking here.

Some highlights from the event:

What role does the federal government have in addressing the homelessness issue?

Sundhu called housing a human right and said 30 to 40 years of “trickle-down economics” have led to the current situation, arguing the Conservatives and Liberals are in the pockets of developers. He said the NDP has a plan to build social housing and housing for young people that is affordable.

Currie said there needs to investment in the non-profit and co-operative sectors, noting the three main parties — Liberals, Conservatives and New Democrats — have had decades to address the problem, to no avail.

Caputo said there is more to homelessness than building more homes, pointing out that for some people, there is much more that leads to homelessness, such as trauma and addictions. He cited his party’s plan to spend $1 billion on substance-abuse and mental-health issues amongst the Indigenous population and to build one-million homes in the next three years, using 15 per cent of the federal government’s land portfolio.

O’Brien said people on the street and seniors need to be helped with rentals, while working families who cannot afford to buy a home need to aided in that endeavour by the CMHC.

Allan said there needs to be co-operative and/or communal housing created to help people get off the streets.

McCormick cited the Liberal government’s Canadian child benefit in bringing 435,000 kids out of poverty and the $1.89-billion homelessness partnering strategy. He added that local non-profits need to be supported.

Delwo said the issue is multi-faceted and needs to be tackled at different levels — addressing issues connected to homelessness. She added that affordable housing is connected to a strong economy with well-paying jobs. She said immigration needs to be reduced to address the supply and demand issue.

Do you support B.C.’s vaccine card program and are you vaccinated against COVID-19?

Delwo said she is opposed to the program, adding she chooses to not to answer questions about personal health issues.

McCormick is vaccinated and said he is a strong supporter of the vaccine card program.

RELATED: Forum a mostly cordial affair

Allan said he is not vaccinated and is “deadly against” the program.

O’Brien said he is vaccinated because he cares for elderly relatives, but added he is opposed to the program.

Caputo said he is vaccinated, but did not answer the question as to whether he supports the vaccine card program, noting it is a provincial jurisdiction.

Currie was succinct in his reply — “yes and yes” — while Sundhu was equally brief in his comments, saying he is vaccinated and supports the program.

What plan will you commit to in order to restore accountability in the justice system?

Caputo, a Crown prosecutor who was also a parole officer, said he has seen the impacts of crime downtown. He said he would bring all parties into a room — businesses, RCMP, city, province and federal government — and ask what each and every one of them is willing to do. Caputo said the underlying issues of crime need to be addressed.

McCormick said criminal law is part of the process, but added there needs to investment in programs and strategies to help get people past their criminality.

Currie, a former Crown prosecutor, said neither Caputo, nor the federal Liberal government, nor himself as MP are responsible for there way the criminal justice system works. He offered a reminder that the courts are a “completely separate level of government” over which an MP has no power to direct it to take a different stance. Punitive sentences have not proven to work, Currie said, arguing the need to deal with the root causes of criminality.

Sundhu, a former judge and Crown prosecutor, said Canada has been engaged in a “war on the poor” under previous Conservative governments. He said the focus needs to be on alleviating poverty, constructing proper housing and decriminalizing simple possession of drugs, creating a safe drug supply and developing recovery programs.

Delwo said people need to come together to work on addressing the issues that create crime, including homelessness, addictions and mental-health challenges.

Allan echoed Delwo, saying people would have no need to commit crime if their needs, such as housing, were addressed.

O’Brien said he would, as MP, meet with the mayor and MLAs and start the conversation there. He said people with addictions should be placed in a rural area for treatment and rehabilitation.

What are we doing to address the climate change concerns as outlined in the recent International Panel CC’s report?

Currie said the climate change crisis is the core of the Green Party platform and the reason is is running, to do what he can to preserve the world for his children. He said there is an urgent need for action, noting successive federal governments have not taken to steps to meet any of the greenhouse gas emission reduction targets set.

Sundhu said we are in an “existential crisis” — which can be seen in the B.V. Interior in three of the past five summers — noting federal government emissions targets have yet to be hit. He said there are economic opportunities in the “green new deal,” noting it is a question of will.

Delwo said Canada is following “laws and rules and dictation” from countries with dubious environmental policies. She said Canada needs to stop purchasing from countries that contribute the most to greenhouse gas emissions, citing China, India, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Delwo said Canada contributes 1.7 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions totals, arguing other countries should be following our lead, which should also include a revamp of replanting policy in the forests, with fewer ‘for-profit trees” and a better diversity of species, including deciduous, that would be more resistant to wildfires.

Caputo said the Conservatives have a plan to get to the 2030 targets of the Paris Accord, a plan that involves $5-billion in carbon-capture technology and 30 per cent of vehicles built being electric by 2030.

Allan said Canada should leave the Paris Accord and set its own standard with respect to greenhouse gas emissions, while working on being self-sustaining with its energy.

O’Brien said the issue needs to be looked at on a global scale, noting 53 per cent of global emissions come from three countries — China, the United States and India all of which are major trading partners of Canada. He said Canadians need to worry about emissions here and from those countries, adding he supports a move to have manufacture label proceed using carbon emissions standards. Labelling and marketing would rive consumers to buy goods from manufacturers using carib-neutral processing.

McCormick noted he was the director of policy and Indigenous relations for the federal minster of environment and climate change, adding he is the lone local candidature to be endorsed by GreenPAC as an environment leader. He pointed out the Conservative membership voted “against recognizing that climate change is real” and argued the NDP has ambition targets, “but no plan to get us there.”

What steps will your party take to speed up Indigenous reconciliation?

Sundhu said there has to be a nation to nation relationship that recognizes Indigenous rights and Indigenous leadership. He said the NDP is committed to adopting and accelerating all 94 calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He said the NDP is also committed to UNDRIP (United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples), which, he noted, was opposed by the Conservatives. New Democrats, Sundhu added, have also pledged $30 billion over the next five years to address clean water and housing on First Nations reserves. He also pointed out that NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was the only federal political party leader to visit Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc after the discovery in May of about 200 probable graves on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.

Caputo said reconciliation is important to him, noting three members of his wife’s family were sort of the ‘60s Scoop. He said the Conservatives created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, adding that he has seen, via his work in court,”the long-term effects and what has not happened in terms of reconciliation.” Noting he has spoken to local elders, Caputo said the government needs to look at reconciliation and restoration and prosperity — a “by Indigenous, for Indigenous strategy,” as emphasized in calls to action 71 to 76 in the TRC report.

McCormick said reconciliation is an “enormous part” of his life, noting he grew up in the home of a residential school survivor, his father was a First Nations advocate and politician and his mother worked to educate First Nations people. He added that he has worked with First Nations across Canada as a lawyer, advising on environmental protection in relation to major infrastructure projects, while also working at the United Nations as a senior Indigenous fellow. McCormick said he is most proud of his work in getting UNDRIP passed into law in June of this year. The most important part of UNDRIP, he said, is Article 3, the right to self-determination, “the idea that Indigenous peoples are best placed to provide solutions to the challenges facing Indigenous peoples” — the project McCormick wants to undertake as MP.

Allan noted he is Indigenous and said Indigenous people who live off reserves are left out of the reconciliation process.

Delwo said the People’s Party would repeal “the paternalistic Indian Act” and promote individual property rights on reserves. She added that federal spending must be reviewed to ensure communities most in need get the help they need.