The Gabriola Ratepayers and Residents Association hosted an all-candidates meeting for the Nanaimo-Ladysmith riding on Oct. 5. Among topics discussed, the economy, reconciliation and anchorages. (KARL YU/News Bulletin)

Immigration, abortion among topics at Gabriola all-candidates’ meeting

Eight of the nine Nanaimo-Ladysmith candidates were on Gabriola Island for a debate Saturday

Abortion, immigration and anchorages were among topics of debate at a meeting of prospective Nanaimo-Ladysmith candidates on Gabriola Island on Saturday.

Gabriola Ratepayers and Residents Association hosted an all-candidates meeting at Gabriola Community Hall, with Bob Chamberlin (NDP), James Chumsa (Communist Party of Canada), Jennifer Clarke (People’s Party of Canada), Michelle Corfield (Liberal Party of Canada), Paul Manly (Green Party of Canada), Brian Marlatt (Progressive Canadian Party), Geoff Stoneman (independent) and Echo White (independent) participating.

When asked what the NDP would do about reconciliation and indigenous relations, Chamberlin, a former Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs vice-president, pointed out that the Liberals failed to implement the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Romeo Saganash, NDP MP in Quebec, tabled an independent private member’s bill, but the Liberal government didn’t make it a priority and it was “shot down by the Conservatives” in the Senate, Chamberlin said.

“This is about human rights,” said Chamberlin. “This is about the proper place and being consistent with the Supreme Court of Canada rulings, which is supposed to be guiding the government. The NDP will implement the [declaration]. It’s only been enacted once in Canada. I was the chief negotiator. We got fish farms out of the water.”

RELATED: Nanaimo-Ladysmith candidates keep climate at forefront of debate

Clarke and Stoneman both fielded a question related to their economic platforms, with Clarke stating her party would eliminate all corporate welfare.

“We’re getting rid of it all and that means corporate subsidies, so we’re not going to pick the winners and the losers anymore,” said Clarke. “We’re going to let the free market decide who the winners and losers are. The taxpayers are not going to be subsidizing that. We’re lowering taxes to a flat tax of 10 per cent for businesses and we’re going to make sure that the inter-provincial trade barriers are removed so we can trade freely between our own provinces … we’re going to make sure that CRTC is going to be de-regulated. Your cellphone costs are going to come down, internet costs are going to come down, all telecommunication costs will come down.”

RELATED: Candidates joust over access to health care and economy

Stoneman said he had no intention to reduce taxes.

“When it comes to taxes, I know that on average 42 and 44 per cent of our income goes to taxes in one form or another,” said Stoneman. “As a Canadian who really, really likes our social programs, I like our health care program, my [wife] right now is on maternity leave, I have friends that occasionally end up on EI being in the trades business, I’m not going to cut taxes. I have no interest in cutting taxes. I think Canadian life is about as good as life is going to get anywhere in the world right now.”

Manly tackled a question related to abortion and some of his party members’ views on it.

“As I stated at the start, we sign up to a policy book and we sign a contract with the Green Party and the [policy] on a women’s right to choose is to oppose any possible government movement to move to diminish the right of a woman to a safe, legal abortion,” said Manly. “We fully support a woman’s right to choose. We will also expand programs and reproductive rights and education to avoid unwanted pregnancies and expand supports for low-income mothers. So I am unequivocal about a women’s right to choose. Elizabeth May is unequivocal about a women’s right to choose. What [May] does not have is the power to whip or silence MPs, like other party leaders do.”

Clarke addressed her party’s views on immigration.

“All the other parties are for open borders, particularly the Green Party,” said Clarke. “They want 450,000 UN-vetted immigrants coming into Canada … Right now, we have open borders where people are fleeing upstate New York and as you know, the United States is not a Third World country and it is not a place where there is severe persecution happening.

“Every refugee family is costing us Canadians $60,000 a year and that is putting pressure on our dental system, our medical system, our social services in many ways. There’s an absolute cognitive dissonance between the fact there are people that are just walking across the borders and pushing the true refugees down on the waitlist seven to eight years. People that are in persecuted nations, that are in impoverished nations are not actually able to come here, the true refugees. So we’re going to make sure we bring things down to 150,000 per year, properly vetted.”

Clarke also said her party would increase economic immigrants to 50 per cent so there are doctors, lawyers and engineers to help fulfill what is needed in Canada.

When candidates were asked a question related to anchorages, Corfield, a Nanaimo Port Authority director, said Transportation Minister Marc Garneau and his ministry are aware of the matter.

“He and the [ministry] are working towards this, it’s just taking time,” said Corfield. “I need people to be patient. You have to collect the data, so we know, so we can move forward and I think that’s one of the best steps. Have the data, have the monitoring.”

John Hirst, Conservative Party of Canada candidate, was not in attendance.

The election is Oct. 21.

RELATED: Vancouver Island NDP candidates concerned about freighter anchorages

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