Have the B.C. Liberals bitten off more than they can chew or has the B.C. NDP under-delivered when it comes to local campaign promises in the provincial election campaign?
It’s a question undecided voters may have to ask at the polls on Saturday, Oct. 24.
The city’s two Liberal candidates — both incumbent MLAs — have been busy on the campaign trail announcing a slew of commitments, all which they vow to complete within a four-year mandate should the party return to power.
A youth foundry centre, a cancer clinic, $106 million on area highway improvements, $85 million for new schools and $250,000 to expand the Car 40 mental-health program have been announced for Kamloops in the Liberals’ $8-billion platform.
The NDP meanwhile, has committed to build new cancer centres in Kamloops and Nanaimo as part of a 10-year cancer action plan.
“I find it astounding, frankly, that there has been no discussion, especially from the NDP candidates in this riding, throughout this whole campaign of any commitments of any kind for Kamloops and the Thompson Valleys,” Kamloops-North Thompson Liberal candidate Peter Milobar said this week.
He noted the New Democrats’ cancer care announcement came a day after the Liberals announced their own.
Kamloops-North Thompson NDP candidate Sadie Hunter said she is concerned the Liberals “seem to be throwing everything at the wall to see what will stick,” noting polls indicate the party won’t win the election.
Hunter said she won’t commit to a project before knowing it can become a reality.
“I would love to bring everything that Kamloops needs all at once and say I can. I won’t until I’m at least able to base that on a solid commitment,” she said.
Asked about commitments from the NDP to building new schools in Kamloops, Hunter said she couldn’t speak to that, but noted she had looked into the possibility of a foundry centre and is committed to working on bringing one to Kamloops.
Asked if the NDP would also commit $250,000 to Car 40, Hunter said the NDP will look into a solution and she will continue to advocate for the program.
“If Sadie is trying to say that building elementary schools, a cancer clinic, a foundry centre and doing some highway work is an overreach for a four-year window, that’s pretty scary to think what she considers advocating for our community,” Milobar told KTW.
Milobar said it’s clear there is no money for Kamloops in the NDP’s platform, given the lack of local press conferences their candidates have held compared to he and Stone.
Hunter pointed to the NDP government’s record as evidence the party hasn’t neglected Kamloops — having moved ahead with the patient-care tower expansion and urgent primary care centre at Royal Inland Hospital and adding a number of new affordable housing projects and child-care spaces during their last mandate.
“We’re not going to see the NDP committing to anything they can’t follow through on,” Hunter said.
She said under a re-elected NDP government Kamloops will continue to benefit from affordable housing projects, $10-a-day child care and a commitment to train more than 7,000 care-aides across the province, including in Kamloops.
Milobar said the Liberals’ track record demonstrates the party can accomplish, within the next four years, all that it has promised, noting expansions at TRU and securing funding for the $417-milllion patient-care tower at RIH on that resume.
He said party leader Andrew Wilkinson spoke with him, Stone and other local candidates to submit local priorities so they are firm in the party’s $8-billion infrastructure capital plan.
“All of these projects that Todd and I have talked about in this campaign are actually in our B.C. Liberal platform,” Milobar said. “They are not just some theoretical piece of if a program gets approved, then we are fighting with the rest of the province for these types of projects.”